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20th century emblem of love to highlight Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale
Claude Monet, Nymphéas avec reflets de hautes herbes, 1914-17. Oil on canvas, 130 x 200cm. Estimate: 12,000,000-18,000,000 GBP. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby's London forthcoming Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on Tuesday 5th February 2013 will be led by a monumental 1932 portrait of Picasso’s ‘golden muse’ Marie-Therese Walter (est. £25-35 million). Featuring an exceptional group of works from eminent collections, the sale will also offer Claude Monet’s monumental Nymphéas avec reflets de Hautes Herbes of 1914-17 (est. £12-18 million) from the artist’s most celebrated series of works, and an outstanding example of Miró’s important post-war paintings, Femme revant de l’evasion of 1945 (est. £8-12 million) that comes to auction for the first time in 50 years from the Wallach Collection. One of the most important group of works on paper by Egon Schiele to come to auction will be offered from the Leopold Museum in Vienna (combined est. £9-12 million), and further highlights include a selection of works from a rare English collection of Impressionist art, the Collection of the Late Earl of Jersey, two remarkable pastels by Edgar Degas and a strong offering of German Expressionist Art. The sale is estimated to fetch in excess of £103 million. *

Helena Newman, Chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department Europe, said: “We are delighted to present a sale this February that includes such important and hugely appealing works that span right across the Impressionist & Modern Art field, spearheaded by Picasso’s 1932 work Femme assise près d’une fenêtre. In recent years in particular we have witnessed the remarkable allure of Picasso’s portraits of Marie-Thérèse to collectors, with La Lecture selling for £25 million - double its pre-sale estimate - in Sotheby’s February 2011 sale, and Nature morte aux tulipes selling in Sotheby’s November 2012 sale for $41.5 million. This particular portrait is a striking and notably modern-looking work from one of the artist’s most celebrated periods.”

Picasso’s stunning and monumental depiction of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Femme assise près d’une fenêtre of 1932 is one of the artist’s most iconic images and part of the defining series which introduced his ‘golden muse’ to the public eye. The story of Picasso’s first encounter with Marie-Thérèse – in 1927 when she was seventeen years old - and their subsequent love affair, is among the most compelling in 20th - century art history. Picasso’s young lover Marie-Thérèse became a primary emblem of love, sex and desire in 20th century art. At first her presence in Picasso’s works was veiled or coded as the artist was at the time married to Olga Kholklova, but when portraits of Marie-Thérèse hung – for the first time – alongside Cubist and Surrealist works in the major Picasso retrospective of 1932 at Galerie Georges Petit in Paris and at the Kunsthaus in Zurich, Picasso’s secret came out. Upon seeing Picasso’s numerous references to a specific face that was clearly not her own, Olga Khokhlova was suddenly alerted to the presence of a new woman in her husband’s life.

Claude Monet’s monumental Nymphéas avec reflets de hautes herbes (est. £12-18 million), which dates from 1914-17, is a powerful testament to the artist’s enduring vision and creativity in his mature years. Possibly one of the most iconic images of the Impressionist movement, the significance of the theme of waterlilies in the development of modern art is now fully recognised. This painting led to the celebrated Grandes decorations, now in the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris, which are according to renowned dealer and scholar Daniel Wildenstein, ‘the crowning glory of Monet’s career, in which all his work seemed to culminate’.

Sotheby’s will be offering a group of works from the renowned Collection of Miriam and Ira D. Wallach, a highlight of which is Femme revant de l’evasion (est. £8-12 million), an outstanding painting by Miró which now comes to the market for the first time in over 50 years. The appearance of this work at auction follows the record price achieved for a Surrealist work of art, and a work by Joan Miró at Sotheby’s London Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in June 2012.** Femme revant de l’evasion is a large-scale work executed in 1945 at a time at which the artist was at the height of his international acclaim. The painting depicts the figure of a woman against a light background and uses the vocabulary of signs developed by Miró in his celebrated Constellations series a few years earlier. The large-format image is rendered with a precision and elegance characteristic of Miró’s best works. It is the only work that remains in private hands from an exceptional series of oils produced between late January and late February of 1945, and was acquired by the Wallach family just a year after it was executed directly from Miró’s dealer Pierre Matisse. The other paintings in the series are held in major international museums worldwide, including at the Solomon R. Guggenheim in New York.

Further works to be offered in this sale from the Wallach Collection include Joan Miró’s Peinture of 1953 (est. £800,000-1.2 million), Paul Klee’s Kinder und hund (Children and dog) of 1920 (est. £120,000-180,000), Joan Miró’s L’aube 11/11 of 1959 (est. £500,000-700,000), and Wassily Kandinsky’s superlative composition created while at the Bauhaus in Dessau, Berhührung (Contact) of 1926 (est.£600,000-900,000).

From the Leopold Museum in Vienna, Sotheby’s will offer one of the most important groups of work on paper by Egon Schiele ever to come to the market. The three works carry a combined estimate of £9-12 million and are led by the exceptional Liebespaar (Selbstdarstellung mit Wally) / Lovers (Self-Portrait with Wally), 1914 (est. £6.5-8.5 million). Executed in gouache and pencil, this transfixing double portrait of the artist with Wally - his model and lover - ranks among the finest works on paper by Schiele ever to have come to the market. With its lavish colours and bold confrontational manner, it takes the viewer to the heart of the emotional turmoil involved in the ending of a long and intense relationship. Also to be offered is the self-portrait Selbstdarstellung in grunem Hemd mit geschlossenen Augen / Self Portrait in Green Shirt with Eyes Closed (est. £1.8-2.5 million) and Am Rucken Liegendes Madchen mit uberkreutzten Amren und Beinen / Girl Lying on her Back with Crossed Arms and Legs (est. £700,000-1,000,000) – a semi-nude female line drawing.

Vor dem Ball (Zwei Frauen mit Katze) by Max Beckmann (est. £5-8 million) is an intensely evocative work painted in 1949 during the first year of the artist’s living in New York, where his arrival made a profound impact upon the burgeoning artists of the time. Whereas Beckmann’s pre-war Frankfurt works remark on the hardships of Weimar Germany, Beckmann’s American paintings are celebrations of liberty. Inspired by its multi-strata society, Beckmann sought out the city’s most iniquitous spots, populating his work with the cast of characters he encountered there. Here, the mysterious intensity of the two women appears to derive from the uncertain propriety of their setting. Relating to their counterparts in the artist’s monumental triptychs - actors, dancers and clowns – they express Beckmann’s dramatic vision of the modern metropolis.

Painted in 1912, Oberstdorf (Gebirge) (est. £800,000-1.2 million) dates from the height of Jawlensky’s Expressionist style. The range of intense blue, yellow and orange tones is typical of Jawlensky’s Expressionist palette of the period. The work comes from the collection of the remarkable German painter, art collector and dealer Hanna Bekker von Rath. A passionate connoisseur who personally knew Jawlensky, she facilitated secret exhibitions for persecuted artists during the Second World War. In 1929 she founded the Alexej von Jawlesnky Society in order to provide financial support for the artist who, in turn, would thank her with gifts of his paintings, many of which are now in the Wiesbaden museum.

Danseuse Rajustant son chausson of 1887 by Edgar Degas (est £3-5 million) exhibits a composition that derives from one of the most dynamic and remarkable poses to figure in the artist’s work. It symbolises much of what attracted the artist to depicting the dance and frequently features as the focus of his finest compositions. The work’s depiction of a dancer lent forward over her shoe is a feature of seminal works from the 1880s, such as L’Attente and Danseuses au Foyer, housed in the Getty and The Metropolitan Museum of Art respectively.

Après le bain, femme s’essuyant, c.1882-85 (est £2.5-3.5 million) is a remarkable pastel on one of Degas’ favourite themes is. The extraordinary energy and modern quality are derived from the highly abstracted treatment of the surface, blending the fabric of the wall-paper, curtain, screen, floor, robe and towel into a continuous decorative pattern. The work remained in the artist’s collection until his death in 1917, and was included in the first of the auctions of Degas’ studio contents the following year. It was acquired by Roger. G Gompel, whose notable Degas acquisitions now grace the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Art Institute of Chicago, among others.

Among the selection of works to be offer in the Evening sale from the distinguished collection of George, 9th Earl of Jersey is Claude Monet’s magnificent snow scene Le Givre à Giverny (est. £4-6 million). Grandy Jersey possessed an outstanding eye for quality and - going against the grain of traditional English taste at the time by creating a rare English aristocratic collection of French Impressionist and Modern painting – bought outstanding examples of works by Monet, Sisley, Pissarro, Gauguin, Boudin and Dufy, among others.

Le Givre a Giverny, which depicts the frost-covered trees at Giverny, the town on the Parisian outskirts which would become synonymous with Monet’s most innovative compositions, was on offer to the National Gallery of Ireland when Grandy Jersey snapped it up, with the help of eminent dealer Dudley Tooth, with a cash payment before the museum’s committee were able to convene to secure it. The painting is one of Monet’s first significant depictions of his new surroundings, belonging to an important series of early 1885. Monet’s progression towards a more radicalised depiction of the natural world is keenly felt in the dynamic handling of paint – a sensory montage of colours and textures.

The selection of sculptures to be offered is highlighted by Working Model for Reclining Woman: Elbow by Henry Moore (est. £1.2-1.8 million), which was executed in 1981 in preparation for the monumental Reclining Woman: Elbow of the same year – the work that was chosen by Moore for display at the entrance of the Moore Sculpture Gallery in Leeds on its inauguration by Queen Elizabeth II in 1982. The single most iconic image in Henry Moore’s oeuvre, the reclining figure subject has been described as ‘a kind of vessel into which Moore poured his most important poetic, compositional, formal and spatial discoveries.’

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