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Christie's France announces highlights included in the Impressionist and Modern Art Sale
Leading the sale is an impressive Projet pour un monument à Gabriel Péri by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), conceived in 1946 and estimated at €1,200,000 - 1,500,000. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.

PARIS.- The Impressionist and Modern Art department will host its next sale on Friday March 29th. Around 100 works of art will be offered at auction which will take place during the Salon du Dessin (that will be held from Wednesday March 27th to Monday April 1st). This sale will occur in parallel with the Old Master Drawings and the Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper auctions, which both include a selection of works from the remarkable collection of Jean Bonna. Led by a seminal sculpture by Alberto Giacometti, and a 1917 oil on canvas by Pablo Picasso, this auction will offer artworks from all the main artistic movements of the turn of the 20th century such as Impressionism, Fauvism, Divisionism, Pointillism, Nabis, and Cubism.

Valérie Didier Hess, Impressionist and Modern Art Specialist is the Head of this Sale: “We are pleased to host our Impressionist and Modern Art sale, in the context of the Salon du Dessin which will attract many collectors to Paris. The sale will present a variety of 20th century artists and art trends with a wide range of estimates, from Picasso’s ceramics offered for a couple thousands euros to masterpieces such as this remarkable sculpture by Alberto Giacometti”.

Leading the sale is an impressive Projet pour un monument à Gabriel Péri by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), conceived in 1946 and estimated at €1,200,000 - 1,500,000. This bronze sculpture was made as a tribute to the French Communist journalist and politician who was a member of the French Resistance, Gabriel Péri. Killed by the Nazis in 1941, Péri became a legend and a celebrated hero. Unfortunately, the full-scale sculpture monument was never realised, but the bronze edition in this scale was executed posteriorly in an edition of eight. This bronze is also recognized in the context of Giacometti’s oeuvre as one of the artist’s first explorations on the theme of the walking man. The single figure is caught mid-stride, a tombstone-like structure towering over him as he walks towards the gravestone of a fallen friend.

Verre et pipe, executed in 1917 by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), is another highlight of the sale (estimate: €700,000-900,000). The present work belongs to an important period of creative development for Picasso which saw the shift from synthetic Cubism to analytical Cubism, and also the beginning of the return to a more figurative representation in 1917. This painting stands out in Picasso’s production as, unlike what its title may suggest, it most probably represents a theater model. This museum-quality work could be related to Picasso’s involvement in the set of Parade during the year 1917 (a ballet with music by Erik Satie and a one-act scenario by Jean Cocteau, and the choreography of which was entrusted by Léonide Massine).

Iconic works by the legendary and innovative sculptor, Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), will also feature in this sale. Le Baiser, 4ème réduction ou petit modèle depicts Francesca and Paolo from Dante’s Inferno. Initially, the original sculpture was supposed to be part of the famous Porte de l’Enfer and was meant to represent the tragic episode of Paolo and Francesca described in the Canto V but in 1887, Rodin decided that it would be an autonomous artwork (€200,000-300,000). Collectors will be pleased to discover another key sculpture by Rodin, Éternel Printemps, second état, 4ème réduction dite aussi “no. 2” (estimate: €180.000-250.000).

Alfred Sisley is also prominently represented in this sale with La Seine à Bougival, painted in 1876 (€600,000-900,000). Considered as a very daring painting for that time in terms of its level of abstraction, it represents Bougival, a popular place of leisure for Parisians located on the capital’s outskirts. As a matter of fact, this town, located along the banks of the river with its endless light effects resulting from the Seine, became a prime location for the Impressionists’ experiments. This painting from 1876 is one of several views of the river beautifully captured by Sisley’s spontaneous brushstrokes and vibrant palette, quintessentially Impressionist in its compositional procedure, style, and subject matter. Other examples of Bougival views by Sisley are housed in some of the world’s leading institutions the likes of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and the Courtauld Institute, London.

Other important works include Le Mas à Saint-Tropez, a charming landscape emanating with light executed in 1905 by Henri Manguin (1879-1949), the same year Fauvism was born following Louis Vauxcelles’ review of the 1905 Salon d’Automne in Paris. Estimated at 120,000 to 180,000 euros, the artist depicted a view of the pinetree-hills overlooking Saint-Tropez following Fauvist characteristics such as loose brushstrokes and strident colors used to emphasise the warm light of a portrait or landscape.

His contemporary Maximilien Luce, French as well, is also part of the auction with Jour de marché à Gisors (rue Cappeville), an oil on canvas painted in 1897 and executed with vibrant Divisionist touches, and estimated between 40,000 and 60,000 euros.

Georges Seurat (1859-1891) is also present in this sale with La maison au toit rouge painted around 1883 (€350,000-450,000). This painting is considered as one of his so-called croquetons, pictures created on wooden panels that he could carry through the countryside, working directly from the motif. Sometimes erroneously described as cigar box lids, the panels Seurat used are largely walnut or mahogany, rather than cedar wood. In his croquetons, Seurat was exploring the entire nature of the relationship between colour and form, using his studies of the ever-advancing science of perception to help inform him. Seurat has managed to capture light, colour and form alike through brushstrokes that are almost hatched, darting this way and that. Croquetons such as La maison au toit rouge were the cutting-edge arenas of experimentation that would result in various sea-changes in the development of the avant-garde. La maison au toit rouge was painted shortly after Seurat had been released from his military service. While he had already been an art student before being conscripted to join the armed forces, it was after his return home in November 1880, that he approached art with a new-found passion, and with new-found confidence. Within a short time, he was drawing and painting works which were unique in their vision, bold and trailblazing stepping stones towards Neo-Impressionism, as quintessentially illustrated by La maison au toit rouge.

The sale will offer an extraordinary tondo by Nabi master Maurice Denis, a painting destined to a ceiling in the private home of Ernest Chausson, a music composer. In a letter, the musician tells Denis: “I heard a lot about the work, those who saw it said it was outstanding”. Exhibited during the Salon des Indépendants in Paris from April to May 1894, this artwork is characteristic of Denis’ Nabi period. However, it appears like a summary of the artist’s previous experiments such as the representation of young ladies sliding in the sky while dispersing flowers to the people looking at them. Titled April, this painting is estimated at 120,000 - 180,000 euros.

Following Jeanne Hébuterne’s world auction record fetched last October selling for almost €250,000, over four times its pre-sale low estimate, Christie’s Paris will offer an elegant and striking female portrait by this talented and recently rediscovered artist. Femme au Chapeau Cloche was executed in 1919 a year before the death of her lover, the great Montparnasse artist, Amedeo Modigliani. The relationship between the two artists ended tragically as Jeanne threw herself out of the fifth-floor apartment window two days after Modigliani's death, killing herself and her unborn child. This powerfully colourful painting of a large format (36.3/8 x 25.5/8 in) is offered with an estimate of €70,000 - 100,000.

The sale will end with a selection of fifteen tiles, medallions, ceramic plates and sculptures by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Fernand Léger. Estimated from €2,000 to €60,000, these ceramics will allow collectors to acquire works of art by some of the leading 20th century artists for affordable prices.

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