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1932 Picasso portrait leads Sotheby's Summer Impressionist & Modern Art Sale
Helena Newman fielding bids at Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, June 2018. Courtesy Sotheby's.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art totalled £87.5 million / $115.7 million tonight in London, with collectors demonstrating interest in a wide range of material spanning the entire field, as well as a broad spectrum of media.

Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti stand shoulder-to-shoulder as two of the universally acknowledged greats of the modern era. Tonight they led the sale:

The auction was led by Buste de femme de profil (Femme écrivant) from the artist’s ‘year of wonders’, 1932, which sold for over ten times the £2.4 million it achieved when last at auction in 1997. At £27.3 million / $36.1 million, it brought the total for the four works by Picasso offered this evening to £40 million / $53 million. Auction sales of works by Picasso at Sotheby’s worldwide this year have reached $232 million.

A rare departure from Giacometti’s usual themes of male and female figures, his evocative and elegant Le Chat sold for £12.6 million / $16.7 million. Subsequent to this rendition of a cat, a dog and two horses in 1951, Giacometti never turned his hand to sculpting animals again. Also by Giacometti, the highly expressive Buste de Diego was sold to a Japanese collector in its auction debut for £2.9 million / $3.8 million (est. £2.5-3.5 million).

The sale was peppered with a number of great classic Impressionist paintings, with demand from across the globe. Appearing at auction for the first time, Claude Monet’s dazzling La Méditerranée par vent de mistral sold for £7.2 million / $9.5 million (est. £6.5-8.5 million), a triumphant example of the artist’s mastery over land and sea-scapes.

Camille Pissarro’s Le boulevard Montmartre, brume du matin, from the artist’s most celebrated series of urban views, was acquired by an Asian private collector for £3.5 million / $4.6 million (est. £3-5 million).

Last seen at auction in 1875, Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s atmospheric Après la tempête (temps d’orage), a rare example of the artist’s early work, brought an above-estimate £610,000 / $806,664 (est. £350,000-450,000). The painting hailed from a prestigious private European collection put together in the first half of the 20th century.

An auction first was a ravishing portrait of Bloomsbury icon Mary Hutchinson by Henri Matisse – one of only a handful of works by the artist ever created of a British sitter. Offered from the estate of the her son, the renowned criminal lawyer Lord Hutchison of Lullington Q.C., the 1936 drawing sold for £3.1 million / $4.1 million (est. £2-3 million).

Marc Chagall’s Les amoureaux en bleu got the sale off to a soaring start, pursued by ten bidders who took the price to £1.2 million / $1.5 million (est. £300,000-500,000). A large-scale gouache by René Magritte, La belle captive, brought £922,000 / $1.2 million (est. £700,000-1,000,000).

Wassily Kandinsky’s 1910 depiction of his lover Gabriele Münter Painting in front of her Easel, formerly in the collection of fellow painter Alexej von Jawlensky, was contested by three bidders to sell for £5.3 million / $7 million (est. £3-5 million).

In the same private Japanese collection since the 1930s, Fleurs dans un panier by Paul Gauguin doubled its estimate to sell for £2.3 million / $3 million to a Russian private collector (est. £1-1.5 million).

The Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale follows tomorrow: est. £16.4-23.5 million / $22.1-31.6 million / €18.6-26.7 million (276 lots).

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June 20, 2018

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