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Pablo Picasso painting of Notre-Dame to highlight Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art auction
Pablo Picasso, Notre-Dame de Paris. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Alongside the beautiful Jeune fille aux cheveux noirs by Amedeo Modigliani (£700,000-1,000,000), Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art auction on 7th February 2012 at 101 New Bond Street, London, includes an exciting selection of works by artists including Pablo Picasso, Raoul Dufy, Marc Chagall, Candido Portinari and Carlos Nadal.

A stunning painting of Notre Dame de Paris by Pablo Picasso is a highlight. Here Picasso has taken a subject he knows well, via his walks to, and the view from, his studio, but he chooses to challenge the truth in order to explore artistic aims other than realism. He toys with the artistic conventions of perspective and scale to leave the viewer separated from reality and immersed instead into Picasso's own pictorial truth. Dated 1954, it is one of his later landscapes, but it shows the influence of his earlier experiments with Cubism. By October 1954, when it was completed, the artist was falling in love with a woman who would later become his wife - Jacqueline Roque. At the time of painting Notre Dame de Paris, they were in the springtime of their passion, and Picasso's happiness at the time of working on this painting is evident. The vibrancy and impasto on the surface of the paint suggests Picasso's joy and positivity. It is a painting depicting one day - marked '25.10.54' in the lower right of the painting - and as such, is a moment captured. It is as if it is a summer's day rather than a day in late October, and Picasso's new found love of Jacqueline and rediscovered love of Paris communicates beyond the picture plane. It is estimated to sell for £700,000-1,000,000.

Also featured is Jeune fille aux cheveux noirs by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. This offering follows on from Bonhams’ successful sale of another Modigliani portrait – Portrait de Femme, which fetched £1,812,000 on 21st June 2011. Modigliani is renowned for his enigmatic portraits of women with their elongated features and deep gazes. They have been described as ‘the works by which the artist has earned his place in the history of art’ and this fine example, estimated at £700,000-1,000,000, is no exception. It comes to the market from the Laurence S. Rockefeller Fund.

Atelier de la rue Jeanne-d'Arc, nu couché au passant (1942) by the French artist Raoul Dufy (1877-1953) is also expected to attract much interest from bidders. Known for his studies of the pleasurable pastimes of the leisure classes (horse-racing and yachting regattas particularly), Dufy was regarded as a painter of the modern world by the influential French writer and critic, Charles Baudelaire: 'He has everywhere sought after the fugitive, fleeting beauty of present-day life, the distinguishing character of that quality which...we have called 'modernity'...'. However, some of Dufy's most critically important works are studies of interiors, whose windows show us a modern world beyond that of the race-course or marina. These works serve as a kind of self-portrait of the artist at the point at which they were produced and, as a case in point, Atelier is highly reflective of Dufy's artistic concerns in 1942. Whilst focussing on a realist subject matter (the nude in the artist's studio) within modern living (the paintings in the background of the composition are vigorously progressive in style), the present-day life that Dufy shows in this work is not a general external reality, but rather 'his' reality. And the way that he expressed his Fauvist, Modern reality was via colour theory and threads of neo-classicism. The two key colours of blue and orange used in this painting reflect Dufy's understanding of colour theory – they are complementary colours and create harmony and an impression of 'brightness'. It is estimated to sell for £250,000-350,000.

With their bright colours and sunny scenes, works by Carlos Nadal (1917-1998) often prove popular at auction. He has been described as ‘the last wild expressionist of Spain’ and the influence of the Fauvist painters is evident in his paintings. Le Salon rouge (1972) offered in this sale is a fine example of his vivid and vibrant style and has attracted a pre-sale estimate of £15,000-20,000. There are six Nadal works in this sale, also including Mer du Nord (£20,000-30,000), La plage à Nice (£15,000-20,000) and Bodegón (£10,000-150,000).

Futher highlights of the auction include La musique au village (£60,000-80,000) by Marc Chagall (1887-1995), Guitare (£60,000-80,000) by Jean Metzinger (1883-1956) and Futebol (£120,000-180,000) by Candido Portinari (1903-1962).

Deborah Allan, of Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art Department, comments, “We were thrilled with the success of our previous sale which sold 98% by lot and 99% by value and look forward to offering another excellent selection of works by some of the most pre-eminent artists of the 20th Century.”

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