LONDON - On 8th February 2012, Sotheby’s London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale will offer a selection of works of exceptional quality and importance. Highlights include Joan Miró’s monumental Peinture of 1933, estimated at £7-10 million, Gustav Klimt’s recently rediscovered landscape Seeufer mit Birken (est. £6 - 8 million), which has not been seen in public in over a century, and a rare and atmospheric winter scene by Claude Monet, L’entrée de Giverny en hiver (est. £4.5 - 6.5 million). The auction features a particularly strong Surrealist group, with works by Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Yves Tanguy and René Magritte, as well as an outstanding group of paintings by German artists including Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Emil Nolde, Lyonel Feininger and Otto Dix. The sale is estimated to realise in excess of £78 million.
Helena Newman, Chairman, Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art, Europe, said: “We are delighted to present a wonderfully rich and varied sale to collectors, with many works of museum quality from every key period in the Impressionist to Modern canon. Many of the works are appearing at auction for the first time or returning to the market after many decades in private collections.”
Peinture, a monumental masterpiece by visionary Modernist Joan Miró, estimated at £7 - 10 million is one of the strongest and most refined works of a series of paintings considered to hold a vital position at the pinnacle of Modern Art. It is one of the few works from this series that is not currently housed in a major museum. Executed in Paris in 1933, it was during this intensely creative period that Miró first broke away from any discernable influences and created wholly unique works. Miró saw these works as a personal breakthrough and referred to them in a letter to Matisse as ‘a great success that might mark a red letter day in my career’. The critical reception of these paintings was unprecedented for Miró, signifying a major turning point in his career.
In the same family collection since 1924, Claude Monet’s previously unseen L’entrée de Giverny en hiver (est. £4.5 - 6.5 million) depicts the snow-covered road leading into the town on the outskirts of Paris which would become synonymous with the artist’s most innovative compositions. Monet and his family moved to Giverny in 1883 and the present work, painted in 1885, is one of the artist’s first significant depictions of his new surroundings. Monet’s pictures from this era exemplified his interest in the transformative power of the elements on the natural world, in particular the unique properties of winter light which presented temporal and tonal challenges that appealed to Monet’s most profound sensibilities as a landscape painter. For most of its history, the painting has been in the famed collection formed in the 1920s by Parisian pharmacist and industrialist Henri Canonne.
Following Sotheby’s recent sale of Gustav Klimt’s Litzlberg am Attersee (Litzlberg on the Attersee) for the remarkable sum of $40.4 million (est. in excess of $25 million) in the November Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York, a major highlight of the February London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale is Gustav Klimt’s recently rediscovered masterpiece of 1901 Seeufer mit Birken (Lakeshore with Birches). The painting has not been seen in public for over a century and is estimated to fetch £6 - 8 million. Coming to auction in the year of the 150th birthday of the painter, it is a work of haunting beauty that stands at the very axis of Klimt’s modernism. Acquired in 1902 from an exhibition in Dusseldorf by distinguished collectors Richard and Klara Koenigs-Bunge, Seeufer mit Birken has remained in the same family for over a century.
Recognised as one of Edouard Vuillard’s masterworks, Les Couturières is estimated at £3 - 5 million. Vuillard painted this work in 1890 at the start of his involvement with the Nabis painters who, following the example of Gauguin, eschewed traditional representation to develop their own pictorial language. Vuillard was fascinated by the rich ambiguities of the domestic space and the figures in the work are likely to have been his mother and sister, who were his constant muses. His predilection for domestic interiors finds clear lineage in the works of the Dutch and French Old Masters, and the artist sought similar intimacy in his domestic scenes, though using entirely different means. The vibrant colour palette of the present painting is characteristic of Vuillard’s work of this period and with its historical motif and formal eloquence, it offers a rare glimpse into the artist’s revolutionary work at the end of the 19th century.
Offered for sale for the first time in a generation, Georges Braque’s L’Oliveraie (est. £2 – 3 million) provides - with unprecedented force - a rare glimpse into the Fauve revolution at the beginning of the 20th century and Braque’s seminal contribution to the movement. Braque was inspired by the unrestrained colour and spontaneous brushstrokes of his contemporaries, including Matisse and Derain, though chose to depict the rich terrain of the Provençal landscape as opposed to the port towns of the South of France. Braque’s explosive Fauve period ended quickly when he turned to the Cubist idiom, and the rarity of his Fauve canvases make them all the more valuable to these early moments of Modernism.
Following on from the successful prices achieved by Sotheby’s for Surrealist works in recent sales, the auction includes An outstanding selection of Surrealist works .
Salvador Dalí’s iconic oil, Oasis, estimated at £4 - 6 million, holds a vital position in the Surrealist canon and was created at the height of his successful years in New York. With a sophisticated manipulation of form and imagery that distinguishes the artist's most successful compositions, Oasis presents a dreamscape with the inimitable sense of mystery particular to the artist’s mature works. Dalí described the composition as ‘The visible lovers. At the approach to the oasis, Apollo and Venus materialize in empty space. By grace of the desert flower, they rise into view from the aridity of the rock.’
Yves Tanguy’s Deux fois du noir (est. £2 - 3 million) exemplifies the refined and personal language with which Tanguy transformed the boundaries of Modernist painting. In this oil on canvas, painted in 1941, Tanguy presents a brilliant hyper-reality that embodies the aims of the Surrealist movement. He had been invited to become a member of the Surrealist group in 1925 by André Breton and went on to demonstrate his accomplishment in the oeuvre with his complete command of a new personal Surrealist language. By the 1940s his work had entered a new maturity, as his forms became more complex in their refinement and the horizon lines which had supported his earlier works gave way to atmospheric perspective.
With its richly complex interaction of fantastical figures and potent landscape, La Comédie de la soif (est. £1.2 - 1.8 million) is a masterpiece of Max Ernst’s wartime oeuvre. The work was executed in 1941 - shortly after his arrival in New York with a sense of revelatory determination - and exemplifies the sense of excitement and possibility that the artist felt in his early years in the city. Here Ernst incorporates recognizable figures amid textured explosions of colour in a painting that demonstrates the artist’s profound power of expression and novelty of technique.
A STRONG OFFERING OF WORKS BY GERMAN ARTISTS
Ernest Ludwig Kirchner’s monumental Das Boskett: Albertplatz in Dresden (est. £5 – 7 million) of 1911 is a highly sophisticated blend of Brücke boldness allied with cosmopolitan allure, and its unique rendering of the cityscape secured Kirchner’s position as the most influential of all the Brücke artists. Executed in the same year that Kirchner and the Brücke group moved from Dresden to Berlin, the painting was one of the artist’s last canvases to depict the topography of Dresden - a recurrent theme in his oeuvre and the city where he came of age as an artist and as a man. The idiosyncratic colour palette renders the painting emblematic of Kirchner’s new-found voice and his confidence in the Expressionistic idiom. The present work represents a powerful precursor of the extraordinarily daring cityscapes which would follow in Berlin.
Emil Nolde’s Blumengarten, ohne Figur (est. £2 – 3 million) is an outstanding example of the artist’s important early flower and garden paintings and belongs amongst his most compelling works. His technique of using thick impasto to build an almost relief-like surface marked him out to his younger contemporaries, including Kirchner and Heckel, as a truly innovative artist whose style greatly influenced their formative careers. In 1903 Nolde moved to a village on the island of Alsen, where he rented a fisherman’s cottage and cultivated a garden which would become the subject of some of his most important works. A fruitful, intensive phase of creativity saw Nolde adopt a new, powerful use of colour, shown in its maturity in this work of 1908.
Offered for sale for the first time, Lyonel Feininger’s Mühle mit rotem Mann (est. £2 – 3 million) comes to auction from the Estate of the artist’s son T. Lux Feininger. Painted circa 1917, the work is an exceptional painting that highlights the artist’s individuality. Through the use of perspective and figural distortions, as well as eccentricities of colour, Feininger transforms the scene into a world where the strange and the familiar are inextricably linked to exquisite effect.
Further German artists featured in the sale include Otto Dix, Alexej von Jawlensky and Max Liebermann.