PARIS - Tonight Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale realised an overall total of ˆ19,759,050 /$25,891,271 /£16,777,651 (est. ˆ14,584,200–20,831,800/$19,154,305-27,359,653/ £12,412,069-17,729,169), the second-highest total in this category at Sotheby’s Paris. The top lot of the sale was Pablo Picasso’s Femme Assise en Robe Grise which exceeded pre-sale expectations and sold for ˆ3,793,500/ $4,970,813/ £3,221,107 (est. ˆ2.5-3.5m/ $3.2-4.5m). The work was offered from the personal collection of his granddaughter Marina Picasso. A record price at auction in France was established for Alberto Giacometti with the sale of one of the artist’s earliest painted bronzes, Figurine, which fetched ˆ2,673,500/ $3,503,221/ £2,270,102 (est. ˆ1-1.5m /$1,312,000-1,968,000). The sale was 73.3% sold by lot and 90.4% sold by value, with five works selling for over ˆ1million.
Thomas Bompard, Head of Sotheby’s Paris Impressionist & Modern Art Department said, “Tonight’s sale featured exemplary works by Picasso, Giacometti, Léger, Kandinsky, de Chirico and Miró in La Galerie Charpentier. Sotheby’s offered the best, and the sale results were even better! Of all the major auctions that have taken place in Paris this summer season, tonight’s Impressionist & Modern Art sale stands out as one in which as many as four of the top lots were hammered down at sums that exceeded expectations, thanks to those discerning collectors who have shown their confidence in Sotheby’s France.”
WORKS FROM THE COLLECTION OF MARINA PICASSO
This evening’s sale offered the very first opportunity for collectors to bid for two works by Pablo Picasso that formed part of the collection of the artist’s granddaughter, raising a combined total of ˆ5,187,000/ $6,796,785/ £4,404,435. The Sale will fund the noble causes supported by Marina Picasso to benefit children and adolescents in difficulty in Vietnam, France and Switzerland.
The works date from 1938 and 1943 and reflect Picasso’s new, combative aesthetic approach and militant engagement during years of war. Palette et Tête de Taureau was sought after by x bidders, on the phone, in the room and online and after prolonged bidding sold above the high estimate for ˆ1,393,500/ $1,825,973/ £1,183,238 (est. ˆ1-1.5m/$1.3-1.9m). Painted in 1938 just a year after Guernica, the dramatic tension is still apparent. The work exudes a malaise and terror through its strong black lines on a grisaille ground.
The second powerful work, Femme Assise en Robe Grise, also attracted competitive bidding, and finally fetched ˆ3,793,500/ $4,970,813/ £3,221,107 (est. ˆ2.5-3.5m/$3.2-4.5m). The painting shows Dora Maar with dark rings around her eyes, portrayed as a sort of black sphinx in an Elizabethan dress that resembles a suit of armour.
Marina Picasso believes that ‘helping to look after orphaned children or suffering adolescents and surrounding them with affection has been a constant aim of my life. The sale of these two paintings will enable me to support various organizations involved in these fields.’
THE COLLECTION OF COMTESSE VIVIANE DE WITT
Following Sotheby’s Paris sale of Contemporary Art last night, the works offered in tonight’s auction performed extremely well, bringing a combined total of ˆ3,272,000/ $4,287,465/ £2,778,295 (combined pre-sale est. ˆ1.3- 1.95m/ $1.7-2.6 /£1.1-1.65m). This brings the total for works from The Collection of Comtesse Viviane de Witt sold at Sotheby’s Paris this week to ˆ13,378,900/ $15,118,157/£11,372,065 (est. ˆ9,049,200-12,792,800/ $10,225,596-14,455,864/ £7,691,820-10,873,880).
A highlight of the works offered from the collection, and appearing on the market for the first time since the 1980s, was one of Alberto Giacometti’s earliest painted bronzes, Figurine, which dates from the early 1950s. Giacometti gave it as a gift to his friend, the painter Balthus. Following extended bidding from five bidders, the work sold well above the high estimate for ˆ2,673,500/ $3,503,221/ £2,270,102 (est. ˆ1-1.5m/ $1,312,000-1,968,000) establishing a record auction price in France for the artist.
Viviane de Witt is married to Jérôme de Witt – a descendant of Napoleon's brother Jérôme, King of Westphalia – and became one of France's first female auctioneers in 1978, swiftly making her mark on the country's male-dominated auction world.
THE COLLECTION OF ALEX & ELISABETH LEWYT
Eminent American art patrons, Alex & Elisabeth Lewyt assembled one of the most famous collections of late 19th/ early 20th century European art. Following last night’s sale of Contemporary works from the Collection, tonight’s sale brings the combined Paris sales total of works from the collection to ˆ2,824,625/ $3,191,826/ £2,400,931 (pre-sale est. for the group of works ˆ2,156,000-3,216,000/ $2,436,280-$3,634,080/£1,832,600-£2,733,600). Previously Sotheby’s New York sales in May 2013 of selected works from the Collection brought a total of ˆ79.4m/ $104.2m/ £67.1m/, bringing the global Sotheby’s total to date to ˆ82.2m/$107.4m/ £69.9m.
Befitting Mr and Mrs Lewyt’s deep devotion to philanthropy, proceeds from the sale of their collection will benefit a charitable foundation to be established in their name. The foundation will support the causes that they both were passionate about, especially those concerned with animal welfare.
FURTHER SALE HIGHLIGHTS
Wassily Kandinsky’s 1925 Blauer Kreis no. 2 (Blue Circle II) embodies the artist’s philosophical reflection on the celestial beauty of the circle. With its explosion of incandescent reds and pinks, this is one of the most intense paintings conceived by Kandinsky during his Bauhaus period. It was acquired by its current owner at the legendary Bourdon Sale in Paris in 1990 ˆ1,676,700/ $2,197,046/ £1,423,706 (est. ˆ1-1.5m/$1,312,000-1,968,000).
A monumental 1930 triptych by Fernand Léger, Queues de Comète sur Fond Noir (Comet Tails on a Black Ground), fetched ˆ1,777,500/ $2,329,147/ £1,509,297 (est. ˆ1 -1.5m/ $1,312,000-1,968,000). The work evokes the interwar glamour of the Riviera. It was commissioned by the famous American couple Sara and Gerald Murphy – immortalized by F. Scott Fitzgerald as Dick and Nicole Diver in Tender Is The Night – for their legendary Villa America in Cap d’Antibes.
Alberto Giacometti’s Torse, conceived in 1925 and cast during the sculptor’s lifetime, is often considered his first modern statue. Tonight the work commanded ˆ697,500/ $913,969/£592,256 (est. ˆ600,000-800,000/$787,000-1,050,000).
Among the spectacular array of Surrealist works offered in tonight’s sale, a particular highlight was Giorgio de Chirico’s L'Enigme du Départ (c.1925) which sold for ˆ841,500/ $1,102,660/£714,528 (est. ˆ700,000-1,000,000/$919,000-1,312,000). The work integrates all the iconic elements of his most admired ‘metaphysical’ period – paintings from which are increasingly rare on the international market.
Marcel Duchamp was well represented in tonight’s sale, in particular with the sale of his Monte Carlo Bond (No.27) of 1924 which fetched ˆ337,500/ $442,243/ £286,575 (est. ˆ200,000-300,000/ $256,000-384,000).
Three works from different periods in Francis Picabia’s career performed well tonight: Transparence (Portrait of Madame Picabia) from 1925-28 fetched ˆ493,500/ $646,658/ £419,037 (est. ˆ350,000-500,000/$459,000-656,000); Femme au Masque (c.1938), continuing on from Picabia’s famous ‘Monster’ series begun in the mid-1920s, sold for ˆ157,500/$206,380/ £206,380 (est. ˆ150,000-200,000/$197,000-262,000); and Sans Titre, a composition from his abstract period, from the collection of Welsh artist Barry Flanagan, reached ˆ217,500/ $285,001/ £184,682 (est. ˆ200,000-300,000/$262,000-394,000).
RECORD PRICES ACHIEVED TONIGHT
• Léon Spilliaert’s work Digue d’Ostende aux Réverbères exceeded expectations, fetching ˆ361,500/ $473,692/ £306,954 sum twice its pre-sale estimate of ˆ100,000-150,000/$128,192,000 and a world record price at auction for the artist.
• Alberto Giacometti’s Figurine, which dates from the early 1950s, sold well above the high estimate for ˆ2,673,500/ $3,503,221/ £2,270,102 (est. ˆ1-1.5m /$1,312,000-1,968,000) establishing a record price at auction in France for the artist.
• Dorothea Tanning’s The Young Student of 1946 fetched ˆ145,500/ $190,656/ £123,546 (est. ˆ120,000-180,000/ $154,000-231,000), a record price at auction for the artist in France.
• A world record price at auction for a work in ceramic by Joan Miró was established with the sale of Grand Vase for ˆ601,500/ $788,176/ £510,741 (est. ˆ150,000-200,000/$192,000-256,000).