Painted during the winter of 1968, Pablo Picassos Homme et femme made the top price in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale at Christies
The monumental composition, which articulates Picassos passion for painting and lust for life during the twilight years of his career, sold for £12,464,250 / $15,617,705 (including buyers premium), leading an auction that totalled £36,413,750 / $45,626,429.
The auction opened with Egon Schieles Liegender Mädchenakt from 1909, a breakthrough year in the short yet eventful life of the artist. The painting, delicately rendered in watercolour, India ink and pencil, sold for £1,271,250, more than four times its high estimate.
Homme à la pipe, a 1919 limestone sculpture by Henri Laurens, also cruised past its high estimate before selling for £1,691,250, as did Marc Chagalls Fleurs au-dessus des fiancés bleus (or Les amoureux bleus), which realised £1,211,250.
A selection of Surrealist and Dada works were offered from The Landscape of a Mind, an important private collection. The highlight was Yves Tanguys LExtinction des especes II, which appeared at auction for the first time and realised £3,131,250 the second highest price on the night.
Other strong performers from the collection included Salvador Dalís Figure aux tiroirs, a work on paper bought for £971,250, and Hannah Höchs Er und sein Milieu, which provoked spirited bidding before selling for £635,250. A dedicated collection sale takes place on 20 June.
The London season opened on Monday night with the Modern British Art Evening Auction, which totalled £17,477,500 / $21,986,695 and was 89 per cent sold by value. The top lot was Dame Barbara Hepworths The Family of Man (Figure 8, The Bride) from 1970, which realised £3,838,250. By the same artist, Oval Sculpture, conceived in 1943 and cast in 1959, almost tripled its low estimate before selling for £1,451,250.
Other notable results included Henry Moores Working Model for Oval with Points (1968-69), which more than doubled its high estimate before fetching £2,051,250; Dame Elisabeth Frinks Running Man (Front Runner), which set a new world auction record for the artist at £1,091,250; and Breton Boy in Profile by Roderic OConor from the Drue Heinz Collection, which realised £419,250, more than three times the estimate. The following morning, the Modern British Art Day Sale totalled £5,802,625, and was 84 per cent sold by value.
The weeks sales conclude with Impressionist and Modern Works on Paper, the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale, and the final day of the online auction of Picasso Ceramics.