Lampley, the head of the Impressionist & Modern Art Department
at Christie's, in front of Lot 5, "Joueur de cartes," by Paul Cézanne,
watercolor on laid paper, 18 1/4 by 12 inches, 1892-6
By Carter B. Horsley
The May 1, 2012 Impressionist
and Modern Art evening auction at Christie's New York has 32
lots, the smallest number in recent years but one that was
many observers exhausted by recent lengthy auctions.
If the auction is
"tight," it is also filled with many very fine works including Lot 5,
"Joueur de cartes," by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906). It is one of
seven watercolor studies for the artist's very famous series known as
"The Card Players." There are five versions of the oil
painting and the auction's catalogue remarks that the series has "long
been recognized as being among the most important and very finest works
he ever created," adding that "they have furthermore been
counted among the greatest art works in the Western canon."
Nancy Ireson and
Barnaby Wright, the curators of the Cézanne's Card Players
exhibition organized by The Courtauld Gallery, London, in 2010, speak
securely for the modern consensus when they state:
"The group has
a distintcive place within Cézanne's oeuvre. The
Card Player paintings are his only significant engagement with what
would conventionally be called a genre subject His
considerable involvement in this theme, combined with the fact that two
of the canvases are among the largest he ever painted, suggest that he
considered the project to be a major artistic statement. In
this regard, the Card Players are compared to his Bathers
series from the same decade....This series has often been celebrated as
being at the pinnacle of his achievements....Just as importantly, the
paintings have long played a role in shaping Cezanne's posthumous
reputation....Less than two decades after the painter's death, the
works had become iconic."
Of the five oil
paintings, only one remains in private hands, the catalogue noted,
adding that "Seven drawings and watercolors are known to exist - three
of them are in private ollections. Among these works
on paper is thepresent Jouer de cartes, whose offering in this
sale catalogue is the next noteworthy chapter in what has became a
remarkable and propitious sequence of Cézanne Card Players events that
have taken place since the opening of the Courtauld Gallery exhibition
in Octoer 2010. This impressive watercolor, a key work among
the studies, has been in the collection of the same family for seventy
years, and has not been seen in a public exhibition since
At the auction's
press preview, Brooke Lampley, the head of the Impressionist &
Modern Art Department at Christie's siad that the watercolor is "truly
outstanding" with its vivid colors and amazing condition." It
measures 18 1/4 by 12 inches and was executed between 1892 and1896.
It has an estimate of $15,000,000 to $20,000,000.
It sold for $19,122,500
including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this
It is property of the Dr. Heinz F. Eichenwald Collection that
got it by descent from Mr. and Mrs. Ernst Eichenwald of Berlin and New
sale was successful with 28 of the 31 offered lots selling for
$117,086,00. The pre-sale high estimate was about $135
One lot was withdrawn, 22, a large bronze head of Diego, the
brother of the sculptor Alberto Giacometti. It had an
$8,000,000 to $12,000,000.At the
news conference after the auction, Ms. Lampley said
that Christie's was "thrilled with the results."
Lot 6 is another
Cézanne from the same collection. It is entitled "L'amour en
Platre" and is an oil on canvas that measures 22 1/2 by 9 3/4 inches
and was painted in 1894-5. It has a modest estimate of
$500,000 to $700,000. It
sold for $1,538,500. It is a study for a painting in the
Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and is featured in no fewer than five oils,
five watercolors and eleven drawings by Cézanne. The plump
statuette is still preserved in his last studio in Les Lauves.
16, "L'arete rouge transperce les plumes bleues de l'oiseau au pale
bec," by Joan Miró, oil on canvas, 18 by 14 3/4 inches, 1951
of the auction's finest works is Lot 16, "L'arete rouge transperce les
plumes bleues de l'oiseau au pale bec (The red fishbone pierces the
blue feathers of the bird with a pale beak)," by Joan Miró (1893-1983).
An oil on canvas, it measures 18 by 14 3/4 inches and was
painted in 1951. It once belonged to Mark Goodson.
The catalogue notes that Miró
was quite taken with titles and provides the following quotation by the
"When I give it a title, it becomes even more alive I find my
titles in the process of working, as one thing leads to another on my
canvas When I have found the title, I live in its atmosphere.
The title then becomes completely real for me, in the same
way that a model, a reclining woman, for example can become real for
another painter. For me, the title is a very precise reality."
The catalogue entry notes that for Miró
the title was a musical poem: "the artist's language recalls the
synaesthetic. scented Symbolist verse of Verlaine, Laforgue, Mallarme
and Rimbaud, tinged moreover with a suggestion of violence...that one
may associate with the convulsive imagery of surrealist poetry."
has suffused this otherworldly environment with an exquisite
rosy pink aura, againsgt which he flashes of primary and
binery color - yellow, red and green - radiate with
heightened intensity," the entry continued.
It has an estimate of $4,500,000 to $6,500,000. It sold for $4,338,500. The
pink outline around the central black subject is especially effective
and Conor Jordan, deputy chairman of Christie's Department of
Impressionist and Modern Art, said in an interview that it was
painted first and the black was pushed to the edges.
13, "Les Pivoines," by Henri Matisse, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 21 1/4
The cover illustration of the auction's catalogue is Lot 13, "Les
Pivoines," by Henri Matisse (1869-1954), an ravishing oil on canvas
that measures 25 1/2 by 21 1/4 inches and was painted in 1907.
It has a modest estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It sold for $19,122,500 to a
European private collector.
Lot 3, "Le
Repos (Marie-Thérèse Walter)," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 10 1/4
by 18 1/4 inches, 1932
beautiful painting in the auction is Lot 3, "Le Repos (Marie-Thérèse
Walter)," by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), an oil on canvas from 1932 that
measures 10 1/4 by 18 1/4 inches. It was sold at Christie's
November 6, 2002 for $3,089,500 when it had an estimate of $2,500,000
to $3,500,000. This time it has an estimate of $5,000,000 to
$7,000,000 and is the backcover illustration of the catalogue.
It sold for
$9,882,500 to an American private collector.
The catalogue notes that "Of all of these outstanding portraits, Le
Repos, with its innovative landscape composition is among the most
intimate. A fluid and deeply personal work, the simple lines
and fields of color translate the great tranquility of her sleep.
Marie-Thérèse was not merely a model but a true inspiration
and the portraits Picasso painted of her during the spring of 1932 are
visual declarations of his love The splendor of these
paintings was most recently heralded again in the acclaimed Gagosian
Gallery exhibition Picasso and Marie-Thérèse: L'Amour Fou, which
focused on the relationship between the two lovers and the incredible
string of works elicited by their raptuours affair....It is exclusively
a lover's view, seen with a lover's proximity. The face fills
the composition, creating an intense impression of the intimacy between
artist and sitter: it reads as a pillow-side view of Marie-Thérèse with
her features so near and all context absent other than a portion of the
surface where her head rests."
"Femme dans l'atelier," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 28 1/4 by 36
1/4 inches, 1956
and lyrical Picasso is Lot 20, "Femme dans l'atelier," an oil on canvas
that measures 28 1/4 by 36 1/4 inches. It was
painted in 1956. It has an estimate of $3,000,000 to $5,000,000.
It sold for $4,114,500 to an
American dealer. The woman depicted is the
Jacqueline Roque, looking a painting of La Californie, a villa they
shared overlooking Cannes and the Mediterranean.
"Mousequetaire et nu assis," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 39 1/4 by
31 3/4 inches, 1967
Lot 23 is a
lively "Mousequetaire et nu assis" by Picasso. A 1967 oil on
canvas, it measures 39 1/4 by 31 3/4 inches. It has an
estimate of $5,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $4,226,500 to an
American dealer. The catalogue entry
includes a quotation from D. Hart's 2000 exhibition catalogue of
"Picasso Mousequeteros: the Late Works, 1962-1972" at the Gagosian
Gallery in New York: "Behind the screen of droping swords, avidly
smoked pipes, tipily riased glasses, fondled nudes, and other
sublimations of impotency - drinking, smoking, making music, and
canoodling - they represent a fictional universe Picasso developed to
exppore his credo: Life not Death, Peace not War.'"
Lot 17, "Deux
nus couché," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 76 3/4 by 51 1/4 inches,
Lot 17 is a very large oil on
canvas of two nudes by Pablo Picasso. Painted in 1968, it
measures 76 3/4 by 51 1/4 inches. It has an estimate of
$8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It
sold for $8,818,500 to a foreign dealer.
"Portrait du peintre Rouveyre," by Amedeo Modigliani, oil on canvas 25
1/4 by 16 1/4 inches, 1915
Lot 29 is a very
strong and fine portrait of André Rouveyre, a painter, by Amedeo
Modigliani (1884-1920). An oil on canvas, it measures 25 1/4
by 16 1/4 inches and was painted in 1915. The sitter was
"well-known in Modigliani's circle as a fierce parodist of upper crust
social manners, in both satirical writings and witty
caricatures," according to the catalogue, and he was also painted by
Matisse.with whom he exhanged some twelve hundred letters.
The catalogue notes that the first owner of the painter was
Paul Guillaume, a tireless promoter of African and Oceanic art in
Paris, as well as one of the most prominent dealers in modern
art duing the first World War. The painting has a
very modest estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000, reflecting the fact
that the market prefers his portraits of women. according to Mr. Jordan. It sold for $2,770,500.
Lot 11, "Les
Demoiselles de Giverny," by Claude Monet, oil on canvas, 25 1/2 by 39
1/4 inches, 1894
In 1894, Claude
Monet (1840-1926) decided to return to painting the haystacks near his
property in Giverny, France. A series of such paintings he
did in 1890 had met with great success and in 1894 he did three more.
This large oil, which measures 25 1/2 by 39 1/4 inches, was
titled "Les Demoiselles de Giverny," and Mr. Jordan remarked that the
artist felt the haystacks were "dancing." The lot has an
estimate of $9,000,000 to $12,000,000. It sold for $9.602,500
to an American collector.
Lampley of Christie's disussing "Buste de Diego" by Alberto Giacometti
at press preview
Lot 22, "Buste
de Diego," by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) is an impressive, 24-inch
high bronze portrait of the artist's brother, Diego. It was
conceived in 1957 and cast the next year and is number 6/6.
It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. The lot was withdrawn at the
Lot 32, "Two
Piece Sculpture," by Henry Moore, polished bronze, 37 inches long,
Lot 32 is a
superb polished bronze sculpture in two parts by Henry Moore
(1898-1986). It is 37 inches long and was created in 1966.
It has a modest estimate of $700,000 to $900,000.
It sold for
This work is number 3 of an edition of 9 and one
of the other
casts is in the Tate Gallery in London.
"Petites Bretonnes devant la mer (II)," by Paul Gauguin, pastel on
board, 29 1/8 by 20 inches, 1889
Lot 29 is a very
nice pastel of two small Breton girls by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903).
It measures 29 1/8 by 20 inches and was executed in 1889.
It has a conservative estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000. It sold for $2,770,500.
Detail of Lot
29 showing two words separated by a line in center of pastel
A more vibrant
and larger oil painting depicting the same girls in similar poses is in
the collection of the National Museum of Western Art, Matsukata
Collection, in Tokyo.
auction was conducted by Jussi Pylkkanen, the president of Christie's
in Europe, who elicited bids with patience and grace. On
lots in the middle of the auction, Mr. Pylkkanen refused to take bid
increments of just $100,000 when the bids were already in the seven
figures, although toward the very end he relented and permitted a
couple of such minor increments on lesser lots. His firmness
refusing the "half bids" was praiseworthy as they unnecessarily prolong
the bidding process and everyone in the auction room knows the bidding
Lampley said that Christopher Burge, the honorary chairman, Americas,
of Christie's and its long-time, famous auctioneer will be back in the
rostrum next week at the Contemporary Art evening auction.
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