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A rich selection of museum-quality landscapes: Sotheby's announces auction of Swiss art
Ferdinand Hodler, Thunersee mit Stockhornkette im Winter. Estimate: CHF 2-4 million / EUR 1,730,000 – 3,460,000. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

ZURICH.- Sotheby’s unveiled the highlights of its upcoming sale Swiss Art / Swiss Made, to be held on 5 December in Zurich. The auction will feature museum-quality masterworks by seminal artists including Ferdinand Hodler, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Giovanni Giacometti, Félix Vallotton and Ernest Biéler. Since their launch, Sotheby’s themed sales, Swiss Art / Swiss Made, have resonated with collectors both in Switzerland and internationally, and in addition to the German painter Kirchner, this season’s auction will present works with a Swiss connection by internationally-renowned artists Christo and Balthus.

Looking ahead to the sale, Stephanie Schleining and Urs Lanter, Co-Heads of Sotheby’s Swiss Art Department, commented: “It is a great honour for us to be able to present several museum-quality pieces representing the work of Switzerland’s iconic artists. It is rare to see assembled together such a broad and fine selection of paintings, which should appeal to Swiss collectors and the international market alike.”


FERDINAND HODLER : Thunersee mit Stockhornkette im Winter

Sotheby's will launch the international market the celebrations of the centenary of Ferdinand Hodler’s death, which will be commemorated with exhibitions and events around the world in 2018. The emblematic Swiss painter completed this museum-quality piece on the shores of Lake Thun, depicting the Stockhornkette mountain range blanketed in winter colours. The painting will be offered with an estimate of CHF 2-4 million / EUR 1,730,000 – 3,460,000) (lot 35).

This stunning work, which is being offered for the very first time at auction, showcases many of the stylistic elements characteristic of Hodler's work during this period. Tending towards abstraction, the composition is remarkable for its muted palette of wintery hues and the parallel horizontal lines which divide the canvas. Hodler explores the theme of transcendence, a recurring motif in his work.

Never before seen on the market and only rarely exhibited in public, this work is an exciting discovery in the field of Swiss Art.

ERNST LUDWIG KIRCHNER: Schneeberge mit Skiläufern
Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s powerful expressionist winter landscape, Schneeberge mit Skiläufern is an outstanding example of 20th-century avant-garde painting.

Realised in the countryside surrounding the Swiss mountain town of Davos, where Kirchner settled in 1917, the work is characterised by a high degree of abstraction: alongside the range of intense colour and the flat planes of the composition, the effects of light and shadow capture the atmosphere of sunset in the expressionist painter’s distinctive style. This masterpiece is being offered for the very first time at auction, with an estimate of CHF 1,000,000 – 1,500,000 (EUR 865,000 – 1,300,000) (lot 31).

GIOVANNI GIACOMETTI: Paesaggio d’inverno (Stampa) / Winterlandschaft (Stampa)
This majestic winter scene depicts the landscape around Stampa, the Giacometti family’s home town in the valley of Bergell. By his use of finely nuanced, expressive colours, Giovanni Giacometti transformed the snow-covered alpine landscape into symphony of light and shadow. This work, estimated at CHF 300,000 – 500,000 (EUR 260,000 – 432,000), counts among the most beautiful postimpressionist paintings by Giovanni Giacometti (lot 12).

The sale on 5 December will include an outstanding example of Ernest Biéler’s work: La mariée, 1924 (lot 13, estimate CHF 400,000 – 600,000 / EUR 346,000 – 520,000). The painter is known for his depictions of traditional rural life in the canton of Valais, and this work focuses on a bride in the village of Evolène. Biéler describes in great detail the sphere of flowers and pearls which is attached with a small ribbon to her white embroidered cap. She holds a rosemary branch, symbol of marital fidelity.

Alongside this work is a rare large-scale landscape by Biéler, Paysage automnal, les hauts de Savièse (lot 9, estimate CHF 150,000 – 200,000 / EUR 130,000 – 173,000) and two beautiful portraits by the artist, realised over 25 years apart, illustrating his instantly-recognisable work: Fille dans les blés (lot 10, estimate CHF 120,000 – 160,000 / EUR 104,000 – 139,000) and La belle rose (La descente des mayens), 1937 (lot 11, estimate CHF 100,000 – 150,000 / EUR 86,500 – 130,000).

Cuno Amiet embraced a wide range of styles and techniques but one aspect of his work remained constant: the primacy of colour. This season we will present a fine selection of works by this important Swiss artist, led by Die blaue Bluse, 1910 (lot 27, estimate CHF 250,000 – 350,000 / EUR 216,000 – 303,000) a work which clearly shows the influence of Vincent Van Gogh on Amiet’s work at this time. After he discovered the Dutch master’s paintings, the Swiss artist’s brushwork became freer and more expressive, and this composition is reminiscent of Van Gogh’s motif of the sower, with Amiet’s own touch.

Two important works by Félix Vallotton will also feature in the autumn sale, each revealing very different aspects of the painter’s characteristic style. The first, an enigmatic landscape, features a range of greens and purples very characteristic of the artist, in particular his later work: Le Loup, près de Villeneuve-Loubet, 1924 (lot 21, estimate: CHF 300,000 – 500,000 / EUR 260,000 – 432,000). The painting is a paysage composé, which Vallotton completed in his studio, adding his unique vision of the scene after recording his initial impressions on site.

The second, Femme couchée, 1905 (lot 22, estimate: CHF 250,000 – 300,000 / EUR 216,000 – 260,000), a nude portrait, takes inspiration from the mythology of the odalisque whilst revealing his tendency to depict women with candour, in realistic detail, using the palette of muted greens and reds which are so readily associated with the painter.

The contemporary works to be offered in December will include a large-scale triptych by Rémy Zaugg: About Death II (lot 73, estimate: CHF 60,000 – 80,000 / EUR 52,000 – 69,500), alongside a striking example of the constructivist school, Zwei un zwei gleiche verschränkte Farbrhythmen an vier weißen Feldern, 1952/71 (lot 74, estimate: CHF 20,000 – 30,000 / EUR 17,300 – 26,000).

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