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  • Impressionist and Modern Art Totals $57.5 Million
    June 22, 2005 LONDON, ENGLAND.

    Amedeo Modigliani, Portrait de Jeanne Hébuterne (detail). signed 'Modigliani' (upper right). oil on canvas. 21 5/8 x 15 in. (55 x 38 cm.) Painted in 1919.

    Christie’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art realised £31,573,600 ($57,527,099 ˆ47,328,826) tonight. The sale was 73% sold by lot and 83% sold by value with 92% of the works sold tonight achieving prices within or above estimate. Seventeen works sold for over $1 million.

    “Another strong evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art took place at Christie’s in London tonight. The market continues to be steady and strong with truly international participation, and we saw particularly strong bidding and buying from clients in America and Asia as well as from European collectors”, said Jussi Pylkkänen, President of Christie’s Europe and the evening’s auctioneer. “The renowned teamwork of the Christie’s department meant we had a large number of major consignments from private collections and that the sale was particularly strong in masterpieces from the early part of the 20th century, with virtually every great avant-garde movement represented by works of superb quality that had not been seen on the market for many years.”

    Amedeo Modigliani’s Portrait de Jeanne Hébuterne, 1919, (estimate: £1,500,000-2,500,000) sold for £3,256,000 ($5,932,432). It had never been offered on the open market, and exhibited rarely in the 85 years since it was painted. The artist’s wild child days were curtailed when he met Jeanne Hébuterne at drawing classes. Within a short time the pair were living together, and only a little later, had a child together. The impact of fatherhood on Modigliani was immediate and intense, and a new serenity entered his art. This brief period of industry and happiness in Modigliani’s life did not last. His health deteriorated rapidly in 1920, and he died before Jeanne could give birth, only months after this picture was painted. Distraught at his death, the pregnant Jeanne threw herself from a window.

    A private collection of five works by Alexander Archipenko, offered by the heirs of Erich Goeritz, realised £2.2 million with Woman, 1918, achieving £1,464,000 ($2,667,408), a new auction world record price for the artist. Bridging sculpture and painting, and linking Cubism, Futurism and Constructivism, his extraordinarily dynamic, complex and rare ‘sculpto-paintings’ are highly sought after by collectors, and even more so for the fact that these pieces seldom appear on the market. Among the most prized are those pieces that belonged to Erich Goeritz, whose legendary collection was largely donated to the Tel Aviv Museum seventy years ago. This collection of five major works, including two ‘sculpto-paintings’, was formerly on loan to the museum, along with a fascinating body of notes and correspondence, and remains one of the most important Archipenko archives in the world.

    A further world record price was established for the artist Karl Schmidt-Rottluff’s In der Dämmerung when it sold for £2,472,000 ($4,503,984) (estimate: £1,200,000-1,600,000). It was arguably the most important work by the artist to appear at auction in recent art market history and led an impressive group of German and Austrian Art. Painted in 1912, In der Dämmerung, dates from the pinnacle of the Brücke movement’s experiment with colour and near abstraction. Schmidt-Rottluff moved away from landscape painting in this year and concentrated on the figurative and still life. The work was offered from the collection of Dr. Victor and Hedda Peters, early patrons of Schmidt-Rottluff, and had not been seen on the market for more than 50 years.

    Works by Kees van Dongen were well received and all three of the canvases offered sold within or above pre-sale expectations. La danse de Carpeaux (Le bal masqué à l’Opéra), an exciting recent discovery, offered from a private Brazilian collection, sold for £926,400 ($1,687,901) (estimate: £450,000-650,000); La dormeuse, Mika nue sur un divan, 1908 (estimate: £600,000-900,000), offered from a private American collection, realised £1,296,000 ($2,361,321) and Egyptienne au collier de perles realised £848,000 ($1,545,056)(estimate: £600,000-900,000).

    Paul Delvaux’s La Vénus endormie (estimate: £600,000-900,000) sold for £1,128,000 ($2,361,312). A wonderful painting from his best years, the price reflects the depth of the market for important Surrealist works. A familiar subject in Paul Delvaux's art, this 1943 version of La Vénus endormie depicts a semi-naked muse asleep amidst a strangely deserted classical city, its surreal air blurring the boundary between the dreamer and her dream.

    The sales continue tomorrow as follows:

    Impressionist and Modern Art (day sale), Wednesday, 22 June
    Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper, Thursday, 23 June
    Post War and Contemporary (evening sale), Thursday, 23 June
    Post War and Contemporary (day sale), Friday, 24 June.