The 73-lot sale of Impressionist & Modern Art to be held at Sothebys
Paris on Thursday 8th December (6pm) will be highly selective, paying tribute to some of the 20th century's most outstanding artists including Ernst, Matta, Lam, Metzinger and Miró and featuring numerous works which have a remarkable provenance or which are fresh to the market.
After the recent Impressionist & Modern Art sales in New York, where his works were targeted by bidders from around the globe, Max Ernst will again be a focus of attention in Paris, thanks to an exceptional ensemble of market-fresh works.
The highlight will be La Carmagnole (1927), consigned from the collection of a major connoisseur, and the most important Ernst painting of the 1920s to appear at auction for many years. The painting's violence, with its fearsome apparitions produced by frottage, harks back to the Middle Age and the Danse Macabre, while simultaneously anticipating the cataclysmic events to come in 1930s Europe (est. 1,500,0001,800,000 / $2,070,000-2,480,000).
Fleurs exotiques (1928) comes from Ernst's Flower-Shell series, which saw him explore the pictorial possibilities of the frottage technique he had perfected in 1925. This sophisticated painting reflects Ernst's technical mastery and readiness to adapt to the varied possibilities opened up by frottage (est. 400,000600,000 / $555,000-830,000).
Nature à laurore (1937), from the former Joe Bousquet collection, is one of the finest Forest paintings in Ernst's oeuvre. The forest here is a hostile, enigmatic world imbued with mysterious and menacing forces, yet remains an imaginary space essential to Ernst's development, and a superb setting for his Surrealist idiom (est. 300,000400,000 / $414,000-555,000).
Matta & Wifredo Lam
To mark the centenary of Roberto Matta's birth and coinciding with the opening of the exhibition Matta: Centennial Celebration at the Pace Gallery in New York Sothebys presents his masterful work Le Pendu. It has never appeared at auction, having belonged to New York's Museum of Modern Art before entering a European private collection 40 years ago, where it has remained ever since. It was painted in 1942, the year Matta first achieved artistic fulfilment and public acclaim, and belongs to the series of mythical paintings which demonstrate Matta's mastery of automatism (est. 1,000,0001,500,000 / $1,380,000-2,070,000).
Wifredo Lam is represented by LArbre aux miroirs, a key work from his 1940s Jungle series, and owned by an American private collector since 1984. Here, Lam rouses and summons forth from a tropical rainforest a galaxy of divinities, demons and metaphysical forces from Afro-Cuban mythology (est. 700,0001,000,000 / $965,000-1,380,000).
Sothebys have the privilege of offering at auction a trio of works by Jean Metzinger which chart the stylistic development of this important French artist.
Falaises de Longues-sur-Mer (c.1906), depicting jagged cliffs along the Normandy coast, belongs to a limited group of compositions in which Metzinger combined a Divisionist 'mosaic' technique with Fauve colouring. The vibrancy of this large landscape, and the rigorous placement of its tiny coloured cubes, presage Metzinger's Cubist aspirations (est. 450,000650,000 / $620,000-900,000).
Maisons cubistes au bord de leau (1916), which dates from a decade later, typifies the strict, Constructivist arrangement that underpins Metzinger's Cubist works of 1914 to 20. Here, he succeeds in reconciling a sensuous palette with formal Cubist rhythm (est. 200,000300,000 / $276,000-414,000).
Landscape, from 1924, reflects in turn the simplified approach which characterizes Metzingers post-Cubist works from 1922 to 30, in which he simplifies the form of his compositions, lending them a refined, geometric feel in line with Art Deco aesthetics. The work was acquired from Léonce Rosenberg in 1925, before being transmitted to its current owners by descent (est. 150,000200,000 / $207,000-276,000).
Three highly representative works by Joan Miró constitute another highlight of this sale.
Painting of 1931, a delicate collage on metal, shows Miró's willingness to experiment with new techniques and materials (notably metal, aluminium, wood and sand-paper) in the early 1930s. This work was acquired from Georges Hugnet by the current owner (est. 200,000300,000 / $276,000-414,000).
In Femme, Oiseau, Étoiles, a large gouache on paper dated January 1943, the deliberately exaggerated proportions of the figure's nose recall Picasso's Marie-Thérèse portraits (est. 500,000700,000 / $690,000-965,000).
Miró's solar imagination was the inspiration for Personnage, an extraordinary, brightly coloured bronze sculpture from 1967 (see photo), involving a metal bar, rake and sheet metal. Similar versions of this Surrealist work can be found at the Fondation Maeght in the south of France and the Fundació Joan Miró in Barcelona (est. 600,000800,000 / $830,000-1,110,000).