LONDON - A "musketeer" painted by Pablo Picasso was one of the big attractions at an auction of impressionist and modern art at Christie's held in London, where it sold for 5.7 million pounds ($9.3 million).
The 1969 work, "Homme a l'Epee," was the second most expensive lot of the session, after Monet's "Au Parc Monceau," that went for 6.3 million pounds ($10.3 million).
Painted on canvas, the Picasso work shows an exhuberant and colorful swordsman in a scene that mixes thick brush strokes in which red and yellow predominate.
Just by chance the rival auction house Sotheby's is offering this Wednesday to the highest bidder another musketeer - this one painted on wood - by Picasso, executed on July 25, 1969, one day before the one sold at Christie's.
Both works figured in the famous 1970 exhibition at the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France, together with other musketeers, lovers and gentlemen, all charged with energy and a contagious humor.
Another important Spanish artist, Joan Miro (1893-1983), led the bidding Tuesday at Christie's, where his "Peinture (Femme se poudrant)" sold for 3.9 million pounds ($6.4 million).
Giovanna Bertazzoni, Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s London: “During the last 6 months, our auctions of Impressionist and Modern Art in London, Paris and New York have produced consistently solid results and this evening’s sale confirms that collectors, both new and established, have confidence buying works by established artists in this category. We see consistent demand throughout and overall the prices of individual works remain stable. At the top end of the market we continue to see strong interest and bidding as collectors seize opportunities to acquire rare and beautiful works of art.”
The top price was paid for Au Parc Monceau, 1878, by Claude Monet (1840-1926), an important painting from the vintage years of Impressionism which realised Ł6,313,250 / $10,284,284 / ˆ7,392,816. It had been sold at auction only once before when it realised Ł3.7 million in June 2001 in London. At this evening’s auction, 2 works of art sold for over Ł5 million / 9 for over Ł1 million. Buyers (by lot / by origin) were 83% UK and Europe, 14% Americas and 3% Asia.
Further leading highlights of the sale included:
· Painting, 1949, by Joan Miró (1893-1983), one of an outstanding group of pictures described as being among the most important of the artist’s career which sold for Ł3,961,250 / $6,452,876 / ˆ4,638,624 against a pre-sale estimate of Ł2.2 million to Ł2.8 million.
· Two large, bold works from the 1960s by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973); Homme ŕ l'épée, 1969, which was last sold at Christie’s London in February 2005 for Ł2.7 million, and which realised Ł5,753,250 / $9,372,044 / ˆ6,737,056 at this evening’s auction (estimate: Ł5 million to Ł7 million), and Nu assis et joueur de flűte, 1967, which realised Ł3,401,250 / $5,540,636 / ˆ3,982,864 (estimate: Ł3 million to Ł4 million).
· Springende Pferde, 1910, by Franz Marc (1880-1916), an exciting breakthrough painting in which the artist embraces the influences of the avant gardes of the period, which was offered at auction for the first time and which sold for Ł3,737,250 / $6,087,980 / ˆ4,376,320 (estimate: Ł3 million to Ł4 million).
Elsewhere in the sale, Hélčne by Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941) sold for Ł1,721,250 / $2,803,916 / ˆ2,015,584; Mohn by Emil Nolde (1867-1956) realized Ł1,273,250 / $2,074,124 / ˆ1,490,976, and Composition by Fernand Léger (1881-1955) sold for Ł1,217,250 / $1,982,900 / ˆ1,425,400.
Further highlights included Buste de Diego sur tige, a bronze by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966) which sold for Ł1,026,850 / $1,672,739 / ˆ1,202,441 (estimate: Ł750,000 to Ł950,000) and Mont-roig, le pont, an important early landscape by Joan Miró (1893-1983) which was painted in 1917 near his family home in Catalonia and which sold for Ł541,250 / $881,696 / ˆ633,804 (estimate: Ł400,000 to Ł600,000).