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Impressionist & Modern Art

Christie's New York

7 P.M., May 4, 2011

Sale 2437

Monet Poplars

 

Lot 16, "Les Peupliers," by Claude Monet, 45 3/4 by 28 1/2 inches, oil on canvas, 1891

By Carter B. Horsley

This 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 by Vlaminck.

The 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."

According to the catalogue, the trees were "located on communal oprperty near the village of Limetz, about two kilometers upstream from Monet's home at Giverny.  Not long after Monet began work on the series, the town announced that the trees were to be auctioned in early August: they had been planted as a cash crop and had now reached an appropriate height for harvest.  On 28 July, just a few days before the intended sale, Monet lameted that there remained 'quantities of new canvases I must finish'.....When his entreaties to the mayor of Limetz to dealy the sale were unsuccessful, Monet resort to purchasing the trees himself in partnership with a local wood merchant, who agreed to leave them standing for several more months."

The poplar series is much better than the wheatstacks series and would be soon followed by his series, the best, on the front of the Rouen cathedral.

This lot, which had sold at Christie's in 2000 for $7,000,000, has an modest estimate of $20,000,000 to $30,000,000.  It sold for $22,282,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

Of the 57 offered lots in the auction, 47 sold for $155,995,500.  The percentage sold, 82 percent was significantly better than Sotheby's auction the night before, although the sales total was a bit lower.  The pre-sale estimate was $162,300,000 to $231,800,000.

Christopher Burge, the auctioneer, said after the auction that "generally the activity was very consistent...and was spread across the whole spectrum."

Monet lily

Lot 40, "Iris mauves," by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 78 1/4 by 39 1/2 inches, 1914-7

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.

The 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."

According to an article in The Wall Street Journal, the painting sold for $3.9 million in 1997.  It now has an estimate of $15,000,000 to $20,000,000.  It was passed at $12.5 million.

Picasso baby

Lot 24, "Les enfants et les jouets," by Pablo Picasso, oil on board, 20 1/4 by 26 imches, 1901

Lot 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."

Picasso algiers

Lot 32, "Les femmes d'Algers," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 51 by 38 1/4 inches, 1955

Lot 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 past master.

"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."

The lot has an estimate of $20,000,000 to $30,000,000.   It sold for $21,362,500.  

Mr. Burge described the painting as "quite esoteric."

Picasso man sculpture

Lot 9, "Homme au mouton," by Pablo Picasso, steel cutout with black crayon, 21 1/4 inches high, 1961, unique

Lot 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."

Vlaminck beach

Lot 25, "Paysage de banlieue," by Maurice de Vlaminck, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 32 inches, 1905

One 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.

Vlaminck beach detail

Detail of Lot 25

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The 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...."

Matisse window

Lot 29, "Le fenetre ouverte," by Henri Matisse, oil over pencil on canvas, 29  5/8 by 23 3/4 inches, 1911

Lot 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."

Bonnard table

Lot 22, "Le petit dejeuner," by Pierre Bonnard, oil on canvas, 25 1/8 by 37 1/2 inches, 1936

The 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.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"By 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."

The painting has a modest estimate of $6,000,000 to $9,000,000.  It sold for $6,242,500.

Bonnard window

Lot 42, "Apres le dejeuner" or "Le Dejeuner," by Pierre Bonnard, oil on canvas, 29 3/8 by 46 inches, circa 1920

Lot 42 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 decided private."

The lot has a modest estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000.  It was passed at $3,500,000.

Matisse woman sculpture

Lot 31, "Nu couché III," by Henri Matisse, bronze, 18 inches long, cast in 1930

Lot 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.

The 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."

Gonzalez reclining woman

Lot 2, "Le Couple," by Julio Gonzalez, forged iron, 7 1/2 inches long, executed circa 1927-9, unique

Lot 2 is a very fine, unique forged iron sculpture of a couple by Julio Gonzalez (1876-1942).  It is ony 7 1/2 inches long and was executed circa 1927-9.  It has been widely exhibited.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Alongside Brancusi, Picasso andGiacometti, Julio Gonzalez is widely acclaimed as one of the foremost innovators of modern sculpture.  During the last fifteen years of his life, the Barcelona native - a decorative metalsmith and consummate craftsman by training - pioneering the direct working of metal as a medium for sculpture, creating a revolutionary series of forged and welded iron compositions."

The delightful piece has a modest estimate of $350,000 to $450,000.  It sold for $782,500.

Leger still life 1

Lot 45, "Le compotier (Nature Morte)," by Fernand Leger, oil on canvas, 23 3/4 by 36 inches, 1925

Lot 45 is a nice still life by Fernand Leger (1881-1955) that is an oil on canvas that measures 23 3/4 by 36 inches.  It was painted in 1925 and has an estimate of $3,500,000 to $4,500,000.  It was passed at $1,500,000.

Boldini portrait

Lot 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.


See The City Review article on the Spring 2011 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's New York

See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Christie's


See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's


See The City Review article on the Fall 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's


See The City Review article on the Spring 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2009 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2008 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2007 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2007 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2006 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2006 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2005 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's November 2, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern evening sale at Sotheby's in the Spring, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction in the Fall, November, 2005

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's November 5, 2004

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's May 4, 2004

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's May 5, 2004

See The City Review article on the May 5, 2004 evening auction at Sotheby's of Property of the Greentree Foundation from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney

See The City Review article on the Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's May 6, 2004

See The City Review article on the Spring 2004 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2003 Impressionist & Modern Art Part 2 day auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Fall 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art evening auction at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist & Modern Art day auction at Christie's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist Art evening auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Spring 2002 Impressionist Art Part Two day auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on the Nov. 5, 2001 auction of the Smooke Collection at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on the Nov. 5, 2001 auction of the Hoener Collection at Phillips de Pury & Luxembourg

See The City Review article on Phillips May 7, 2001 Impressionist & Modern Art auction

See The City Review article on the November 9, 2001 Impressionist & Modern Art auction at Sotheby's

See The City Review article on Phillips Fall 2000 Impressionist & Modern Art auction

 



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