NEW YORK, N.Y.- Sothebys
Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 3 May 2011 in New York will feature Jeune tahitienne, an exquisite sculpture carved during Paul Gauguins first trip to Tahiti between 1890 and 1893 (est. $10/15 million*). As the only fully-worked bust portrait that Gauguin is known to have created, it is unique within his oeuvre, and numbers among the artists finest sculptures in private hands. Jeune tahitienne will be on view this April at Sothebys Hong Kong and London galleries, marking the first time the work has been seen by the public in 50 years, having been purchased by the current owner in 1961 at Sothebys London. The work will return to New York for the full sale exhibition on 29 April**.
As in Gauguins greatest paintings, this serene young woman captures the mystery, allure and exoticism of the South Pacific, enhanced by the use of various local materials: the main figure was carved from tamanu wood; the earrings were made of boxwood; and the coral and shells of the delicate necklaces were collected and strung by the artist himselfwho personally considered his sculptures to be his greatest artistic achievement.
The history of Jeune tahitienne is equally exquisite: months after returning to Paris in 1894, Gauguin presented this sculpture to Jeanne Fournier, the 10-year-old daughter of critic and collector Jean Dolent, having promised to bring her a gift from the tropics. In 1961, Fournier entrusted its sale to Father Celas Rzewuski, a member of the Dominican Order, who in turn consigned it to Sothebys in London, where it was purchased by the present owner.
This historic auction will coincide with the exhibition Gauguin: Maker of Myth, the most important Gauguin show in the United States for over 20 years, on view through June of this year at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. The sale also comes at a time when the market has demonstrated exceptional demand for masterpieces of sculpture, most notably in the sale of Alberto Giacomettis Walking Man I for a record- breaking $104.3 million at Sothebys London in 2010.
1 -- 5 April: Hong Kong Convention & Expo Center
14 -- 18 April: Sothebys London
29 April -- 3 May: Sothebys New York
*Estimate does not include buyers premium