16, "Les Peupliers," by Claude Monet, 45 3/4 by 28 1/2 inches, oil on
Carter B. Horsley
May 4, 2011 evening sale at Christie's New York of Impressionist and
Modern Art is highlighted by a great example of Monet's poplar tree
series, two great and very luminous "interiors" paintings by Bonnard,
a delightful early Picasso of children and toys and an
impressive later Picasso abstraction, a superb Matisse, two nice Leger
abstractions, a fabulous Boldini portrait and a great Fauve landscape
auction's top item is Lot 16, "Les Peupliers," by Claude Monet
(1840-1926), an 1891 oilon canvas that measures 45 3/4 by 28 1/2
inches. It is the cover illustration of the auction's
catalogue and it is the largest of 24 views of the trees on
the bank of the river Epte that the artist painted in 1891.
"The series became Monet's principal working mode with the
twenty-five paintings of wheatstacks in the countryside near
Giverny that he completed in February 1891" the catalogue noted, adding
that he began the poplar series in the spring of that year, "even
before the exhibition of the Wheatstack paintings at the Galerie
Durand-Ruel had opened."
40, "Iris mauves," by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 78 1/4 by 39 1/2
Lot 40, "Iris mauves," is a
large oil on canvas by Monet that measures 78 1/4 by 39 1/2 inches and
was executed in 1914-17. It once belonged to John and Frances
L. Loeb of New York.
catalogue notes that "the most ambitious undertaking ofthe artist's
career was the Grandes decorations, an ensemble of twenty-two
mural-sized canvases totalling more than ninety meters in length, which
Monet completed just a month before his death and donated to
the French state (Musée de l'Orangerie, Paris)....The present canvas,
one of twenty views that Monet painted of irises on the banks of the
lily pond, dates to his first concerted campaign of work on the Grandes
decorations in 1914-17. It boasts the same monumental scale
and free, daring handling as the final murals and may well have been
conceived as part of the decorative ensemble, which underwent repeated
revisions during the decade that Monet worked on it."
24, "Les enfants et les jouets," by Pablo Picasso, oil on board, 20 1/4
by 26 imches, 1901
24 is a charming and bright painting by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) of
two girls and their toys. Executed in 1901, it is an oil on
board that measures 20 1/4 by 26 inches. It has an estimate
of $5,500,000 to $7,500,000. It passed at $4,400,000. The catalogue notes that "the
sidelong glare of the child in red toward her little friend, whose own
determined expression Picasso has imbued with a peculiar
intensity reveals a most extraordinary understanding of human
nature in its earliest formative states."
32, "Les femmes d'Algers," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 51 by 38
1/4 inches, 1955
32 is a grisaille picture from Picasso's series on "The Women of
Algers," and was executed in 1955. An oil on canvas, it
measures 51 by 38 1/4 inches. It is one of 15 variations the
artist did between December 13, 1954 and February 14, 1955 on Les Femmes
d'Alger, a 1834 work by Eugene Delacroix and this was the first
extended series that Picasso created after a renowned painting by a
"Among the monochrome variations, the present Verion 'L' is truly
magisterial. She is not simply an odalisque enjoying her narghile
(water-ipe), she is the goddess Astarte enthroned in her temple, seated
en majesté, but also spinx-like, inscrutable, a mythic image of
sexually powerful and fertile womanhood brought foward from the distant
past to be approached with deference and awe. Astarte was
also a war deity. This seated odalisque wears her mid-century cubism if
it were body armor, hammered from reflective metals.
In no other version does she possess this
overwhelming, domineering demeanor, the sense of an unbending
will, the implication of absolute power. She is actually
bitonal, not monochrome in her shading," the entry remarked.
"The fifteen versions of Les Femmes d'Alger
were first exhibited during June-October 1955 at the Musée des Art
Décoratifs in Paris, where they were installed together as Picasso's
most recent paintings in a important retrospective of works dating from
1900 to1955. When it came time to offer the paintings for sale,
Kahnweiller stipulated to prospective buyers that the fifteen
paintings must be purchased as a group, ostensibly on Picasso's demand,
which the artist later flatly denied. Victor and Sally Ganz of
New York had purchased during the late 1940s and early 1950s some of
Picasso's most challenging pictures, including wartime works.
They agreed to Kahnweiller's condition, and acquired the
whole series in June 1956 for 80 million francs (nearly
$213,000)....The Ganzes had spent more than they could actually afford
at the time. Working through the dealers Eleanore and Daniel
Saidenburg, and with Paul Rosenberg, they soon sold ten versions to
various collectors and museums in America."
9, "Homme au mouton," by Pablo Picasso, steel cutout with black crayon,
21 1/4 inches high, 1961, unique
9 is a wonderful steel cutout with black crayon by Pablo Picasso entitled "Homme
au mouton." It was created in Cannes in 1961 and is 21 1/4
inches high. It has been widely exhibited and has an estimate
of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $7,138,500. Mr. Burge described the statue as "beautiful."
25, "Paysage de banlieue," by Maurice de Vlaminck, oil on canvas, 25
1/2 by 32 inches, 1905
of the highlights of the auction is Lot 25, "Paysage de banlieue," a
1905 oil on canvas by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958).
It measures 25 1/2 by 32 inches and has an estimate of
$18,000,000 to $25,000,000. It once belonged to Albert
Skira, the famous publisher of lavish art books and was consigned to
this auction by Steven A. Cohen, a hedge-funder. It
sold for $22,282,500 to Acquavella LLC, setting a new world auction
record for the artist. The painting had sold at Christie's in
1994 for $6,800,000.
of Lot 25
catalogue provides the following commentary:
present painting ranks among the very greatest of Maurice de Vlaminck's
fauve landscapes painting during 1905, the most celebrated and
innovative year of his career Fauvism was the first
real revolution in the development of twentieth-century art,
and Vlaminck, whom the poet Guillaume Apollinaire admiringly called
'the wildest of the Favues,' was one of its leaders, along with Henri
Matisse and Andre Derain. Vlaiminck and Derain met in 1900
when their commuter train from Paris derailed en route to Chatou, a
suburban town about nine miles northwest of the capital where they both
lived. The two painters decided to share a studio at Chatou,
and in 1901 Detain introduced Vlaminck to Matisse at an exhibition of
Van Gogh's work at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris.
Matisse recalled this meeting: "One day I went to
the Van Gogh exhibition at Bernheim's in the rue Lafitte. I
saw Derain in the company of an enormous young fellow who proclaimed
his enthusiasm in a voice of authority. He said, 'You see,
you've got to paint with
pure cobalts, pure
vermilions, pure veronese...."
29, "Le fenetre ouverte," by Henri Matisse, oil over pencil on canvas,
29 5/8 by 23 3/4 inches, 1911
29 is a very fine albeit pale interior painting by Henri Matisse
(1869-1954) that is entitled "le fenetre ouverte."
An oil over pencil on canvas, it measures 29 5/8 by 23 3/4
inches and was painted in 1911. It has a modest estimate of
$8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It was once in the collections of
Pierre Bonnard and Emil George Buhrle of Zurich. It sold for $15,762,500, which Mr. Burge said was "a great price."
22, "Le petit dejeuner," by Pierre Bonnard, oil on canvas, 25 1/8 by 37
1/2 inches, 1936
auction has two fabulous works by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947).
The first is Lot 22, "Le petit dejeuner," an oil on canvas
from 1936 that measures 25 1/8 by 37 1/2 inches It has been
widely exhibited and published and is from the collection of
Evelyn Annenberg Jaffe Hall.
time time that he painted the present canvas, Bonard's treatment of
space (like that of Matisse, his close friend and frequent
corresondent) had became imcreasingly experimental. Nicohlas
Watkins has written 'Both artists shared an ambition in the 1930's to
break open the walls of the domestic interior, distort form,
and construct through color an association with light, an expanding
reading of pictorial space.''....The spatial field in
the present painting is much wider tthan what the human eye
could take in at a single glance."
painting has a modest estimate of $6,000,000 to $9,000,000. It sold for $6,242,500.
Lot 42, "Apres le dejeuner" or
"Le Dejeuner," by Pierre Bonnard, oil on canvas, 29 3/8 by 46 inches,
is a very appealing painting by Bonnard entitled "Apres le dejeuner" or
"Le Dejeuner." An oil on canvas, it measures 39 3/8 by 46
inches and was painted circa 1920. "In Bonnard's many
paintings on the theme of the open door or window...., he
strove to express the lure of the outdoors versus the urge toward the
organization of private life inside; here,these two different realms of
experience have been united in a single scene. The two
figures, both pushed to the very periphery of the canvas, gaze past one
another, each sunken in her own silent reverie. Although the
plentiful still life of pears and grapes in the foregound beckons the
viewer to approach the table, the overall mood of the scene remains
has a modest estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It was passed at $3,500,000.
31, "Nu couché III," by Henri Matisse, bronze, 18 inches long, cast in
31 is a very fine reclining bronze nude of a female by Henri Matisse.
It is 18 inches long and was cast in 1930. It has a
modest estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000. It was passed at $2,400,000.
catalogue entry observes that the sculpture "emerges as perhaps being
the essential, most viable and prescient work that Matisse created at
the end of the 1920's - Janus-like, it reflects on the decade
that has passed, while at the same time it looks forward to the shape
of works to come during the 1930s."
2, "Le Couple," by Julio Gonzalez, forged iron, 7 1/2 inches long,
executed circa 1927-9, unique
45, "Le compotier (Nature Morte)," by Fernand Leger, oil on canvas, 23
3/4 by 36 inches, 1925
19, "Ritratto di Madame Eugene Doyen," by Giovanni Boldini, oilon
canvas, 88 1/4 by 44 1/4 inches, 1910
Lot 19 is a great portrait of
Madame Eugene Doyen by Giovanni Boldini (1842-1931). Painted
in 1910, itis an oil on canvas that measures 88 1/4 by 44 1/4 inches.
It has been widely published and has an estimate of
$2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $1,762,500. The
sitter is the wife of a famous surgeon in Paris and the painter's
flamboyant flourishes and style are wonderfully exemplified here.