A Christie's employee poses with an artwork, titled Pommiers a Eragny, by French artist Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) during an auction preview in London. The painting, which forms part of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, is estimated to fetch betweeen 900,000-1.2 million GBP at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art sale on 07 February. EPA/KERIM OKTEN.
LONDON - The Impressionist and Modern Art and The Art of the Surreal Evening Auctions will take place on 7 February 2012 at 7pm with a pre-sale estimate of £86,205,000 -127,090,000 (corresponding estimate in 2011: £73.8-109 million). Combined with the Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist works which will be offered in Living with Art – A Private European Collection, the total value of art offered in the Evening Sales between 7 and 9 February is £97,761,000-145,090,000.
Heralding the final portion of The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor landmark series of sales, a formidable group of 38 pictures from the iconic actress’ collection will be offered between 7 and 8 February led by Vue de l’asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy, 1889, by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890). This historic painting encapsulates the artist’s original and unique vision and is estimated to realise between £5-7 million.
The leading highlight of the sales is Le livre, an important Cubist still life painted by Juan Gris (1887-1927) between 1914 and 1915, a key date in the artist’s oeuvre (estimate: £12-18 million). This work was exhibited in the major post-war exhibition Cubisme at Galerie de France, Paris, in 1945.The Art of the Surreal is led by an extremely rare early work Painting-Poem (“le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil”), 1925, which is the most significant Surrealist painting by Joan Miró (1893-1983) to be offered at auction in the last decade (estimate: £6-9 million).
Giovanna Bertazzoni, International Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s: The market is price-aware and continues to be hungry for the best and rarest market-fresh works of Impressionist and Modern art. This year’s auction meets this demand and provides international collectors and institutions with strong works and notable provenance, presenting rare and exciting opportunities.”
Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale
The Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale will feature 51 lots with a combined pre-sale value of £66,560,000-97,960,000 and featuring seven named private collections - including The Hubertus Wald Charitable Foundation Collection and The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor . The top lot of the sale is Juan Gris’ historic Le livre, 1914-1915, (estimate: £12-18 million). The auction will also include significant works by other leading artists of the category from Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Degas and Paul Signac to Henry Moore and Robert Delaunay among others.
* Le livre by Juan Gris (1887-1927) was executed in Paris between the end of 1914 and the start of 1915 and marks the artist’s change of stylistic approach to working from an abstract compositional armature towards its subject matter (estimate: £12-18 million). This development moved in harmony with the shift of emphasis in modernism in the second decade of the 20th century from representation to abstraction and to an assertion of the autonomy of the painting as object. A key transitional work for Gris, who did not fully complete this change of direction until 1919, this turn-of-the-year painting made a break with his earlier work and opened his pictorial thinking to the future, resulting in an elegant and challenging picture. First shown at the major post-war Cubisme exhibition at the Galerie de France, Paris, in 1945 and subsequently shown throughout Europe and America in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, it was then unseen for 30 years until the 2005 retrospective in Madrid.
* The leading highlight of the paintings offered from The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, Vue de l’asile et de la Chapelle de Saint-Rémy, 1889, by Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) is a luminous painting which was included in several of the most important early exhibitions of the artist’s work (estimate: £5-7 million). These groundbreaking shows, such as the 1905 retrospective at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, were instrumental in the formation of his posthumous reputation. Acquired in 1963 on behalf of Elizabeth Taylor by her father - the dealer and prominent art market figure Francis Taylor - the picture breathes with autumnal atmosphere. It has not been on public view for over 20 years. Elsewhere in the sale, from the property of a distinguished private collector, is a forceful and highly emotional image in watercolour of a Pollard Willow, 1882, by Van Gogh, which the artist himself wrote to his brother Theo that “it has turned out the best of the watercolours” (estimate: £1.2-1.6 million).
The pictures from The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor comprise some of the biggest names of the 19th and 20th centuries, placing Vincent Van Gogh alongside Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) with the luminosity, abundant foliage and richly textured surface of his masterful Pommiers à Éragny, 1894 (estimate:£900,000-1.2 million) and Edgar Degas (1834-1917) in his skillful and sensitive Autoportrait, circa 1857-1858 (estimate: £350,000-450,000).
Elsewhere in the sale, other major Impressionist and Post-Impressionist works include:
* Danseuse rajustant ses epaulettes, circa 1896-1899, by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) is one of his celebrated images of ballet dancers (estimate: £3-4 million). This exquisite pastel, filled with glowing colour and depicting a typically intimate moment in the dancer’s life, was cited in the Degas catalogue raisonné by Lemoisne as a study for or after one of the artist’s most acclaimed masterpieces, his large scale painting En attendant l’entrée en scène, also known as Quatre danseuses, in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. This pastel is offered for the first time in over half a century from the Estate of Mrs Monique Uzielli, whose multi-faceted collection spanned geographies, fields and periods, from 19th century oils to exquisite modern works on paper.
* La Corne d’Or, Constantinople, 1907, by Paul Signac (1863-1935) is the largest and one of the most impressive of Signac’s views of Istanbul, as the Turkish city is now known (estimate: £4-6 million). Measuring 35⅛ x 45¾ in. (89.2 x 116.3cm.) and blazing with colour, the quality and importance of this dynamic work are reflected in its impressive exhibition history and provenance. Having passed through the hands of distinguished dealers such as Bernheim-Jeune and Paul Vallotton, it went on to be bought at auction by the artist’s daughter, Ginette, in 1937, two years after Signac’s death. It remained in the family for over half a century, having last been exhibited in 1957.
* Reclining Figure: Festival by Henry Moore (1898-1986) was conceived in 1951 and cast in an edition of five plus one artist’s proof (estimate: £3.5-5.5 million). In 1949, the year after Moore was awarded the international prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale, he was commissioned by the Arts Council to create a sculpture for the Festival of Britain which was to be held in 1951 – the present lot is the work he executed. Its importance lies not only in the significance of the commission itself but also it functions as a ‘key’ to this period of Moore’s work. He introduced a new working method, progressing from a maquette to working model and then to the large scale work; with stylistic innovations such as raised tracery-lines upon the surface of the sculpture. Moore noted ‘I was simply concerned with making sculpture in the round’, a process which was recorded by John Read in his groundbreaking documentary which was the first documentary film about a living artist for British television and which cemented Moore’s reputation as the greatest living sculptor in Britain.
The Art of the Surreal
The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale will immediately follow the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Auction, and will offer 39 lots with a total pre-sale value of £19,645,000 - 29,130,000 - the most valuable pre-sale estimate for any auction of Surrealist and Dada art.
Christie’s have dedicated a section of the February evening sale to the Art of the Surreal since 2001. The Surrealist movement was founded in France in 1924 with the publication of the Manifeste du Surréalisme by André Breton, its founder and chief spokesman. He stated that the central idea was ‘to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality.’ Major artists associated with the Surrealist movement include Joan Miró, Jean Arp, René Magritte, Salvador Dalí, Max Ernst, Giorgio de Chirico, Paul Delvaux and Francis Picabia, all of whom are represented in the sale.
Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s: “This pioneering movement of 20th century art now commands the attention of the global art market, with Christie’s annual sales attracting new collectors each year from around the world and from other collecting areas, notably Contemporary art. In February 2011 we realised a record total for the category. This year we continue to build on this success with a very fine selection of works, led by the most significant Surrealist painting by Joan Miró to be offered at auction in the last decade and a strong addition of 10 works from the Hubertus Wald Charitable Foundation Collection.”
* Painting-Poem (“le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil”) by Joan Miró (1893-1983) was painted in 1925 (estimate: £6-9 million). Offered from a private New York collection, it is the most important Surrealist work by Miró to be offered at auction in the last decade. Part abstract void, part lyrical free-form painting and part hand-written stream-of-consciousness poetry, Le corps de ma brune… is one of the finest and best-known of an extraordinary group of paintings made by the artist in 1925, in which he successfully pushed beyond the conventional boundaries of painting and the picture-plane to create a radical new mental space; fusing word image and painterly form into a new free-form of expression conveying an hallucinatory or dream-like state of consciousness. The artist’s friend and biographer, Jacques Dupin noted that ‘the most famous of (these poem-paintings) is undoubtedly “Le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil” ’ (the present lot).
* L’automobile fossile du Cap Creus, 1936, is an important painting by Salvador Dalí (1904-1989) depicting an hallucinatory image of spectral fishermen and a car materializing from the Cape Creus rocks near the artist’s home on the Spanish coast (estimate: £1.4-1.8 million). Formerly in the collection of the eccentric Englishman Edward James – the legendary Surrealist collector and friend of Salvador Dalí – it is one of a significant series of paintings which Dalí made in the mid-1930s in which he was consciously developing the dualistic imagery of what he famously called his ‘paranoiac-critical’ technique, which first emerged in his semi-autobiographical works on the theme of William Tell in the early 1930s. It is offered for the first time in 30 years since it was purchased at the famous Edward James auction at Christie’s in 1981 by the present owner.
* Le nu et le mannequin, 1947, is a large and extraordinary erotic painting by Paul Delvaux (1897-1994) depicting a strange encounter between a sensual reclining nude and a dark mannequin draped in a white bridal-like shawl (estimate: £2-3million).
* La parade is one of only 15 paintings which René Magritte executed during the turbulent year of 1940, when Belgium was invaded during the Second World War (estimate: £700,000-1 million). It was acquired directly from the artist by his friend Paul Eluard, the Surrealist poet and a member of the French Resistance. The deceptive simplicity of the picture’s composition, with its near-desert landscape, a tree and a curtain, lends it a forceful immediacy and a great mystery. The image is easy to read, yet more complex to decipher. Magritte throws various conventions of artistic tradition into question through the curtain and the tree: the contrast between interior and exterior; the idea of concealment and revelation. Magritte reveals his awe at the world around us, encouraging the viewer to see it afresh.
* Surrealism and Dada are prominently represented in the Hubertus Wald Collection by a group of outstanding works, led by a mysterious and distinctly natural landscape, Fleur coquille et tête d'animal sur fond rouge et noir (1928) by Max Ernst (1891-1976) (estimate: £700,000-1 million). A very large, colourful and highly painterly combination of flat abstract geometric forms and grattage scrapings of paint form a strangely organic structure reminiscent of shells, flowers and geological rock formations, whilst also suggesting the mysterious presence of an animal.
Christiane Gräfin zu Rantzau, Chairman Christie’s Germany: “The importance of Hubertus Wald for Hamburg cannot be overestimated both in life and now by way of his incredible legacy. One of the great figures of Hamburg society, his wish was to establish a Foundation in his name to benefit Hamburg, and to sell his art collection to facilitate this intention. He was an inspiration for Hamburg’s cultural life as one of its greatest patrons and moreover his is an admirable example of generosity and philanthropy.”
Overall the sale offers 10 works by Max Ernst, an artist for whose work the market has recently shown a powerful hunger. Christie’s achieved two new consecutive record prices for the artist at auction in 2011, in London and New York, culminating last November when The Stolen Mirror, 1941, sold for $16,322,500 (£10,283,175).
The Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale and the auction of Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper will take place on 8 February and will offer 296 lots with a combined pre-sale value of £17,151,400 - 25,119,100.