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Sotheby's February Impressionist & Modern Art Sale Estimates in Excess of GBP100 Million
Franz Marc, Weidende Pferde III (Grazing Horses III), 1910. Estimate: £6,000,000-8,000,000, ($12,000,000-16,000,000). © Sotheby's Images.

LONDON.- Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern art in London on Tuesday, February 5 will bring to the market major works by many of the leading names in the field – among them Picasso, Jawlensky, Sisley, Monet, Cézanne, Renoir and Franz Marc. Together with the rest of the series of sales, they carry a combined estimate in excess of £100 million, making this among the highest value series of sales Sotheby’s has ever staged in Europe.

Series comprises: Impressionist and Modern Evening and Day sales (including Surrealist and German & Austrian) as well as Works on Paper. This striking portrait of Dora Maar comes to sale from the family of Heinz Berggruen, who died in 2007 and was widely recognised as one of Europe's most significant art connoisseurs, collectors and dealers. His superlative collection reflected not only his deep understanding of modern art but also his personal friendship with many of the major artists of his time including Pablo Picasso. Born in Berlin, Berggruen returned there in 1996 where a large museum near the Charlottenburg Palace was renovated by the Berlin State Museum to exhibit his collection. In 2000 the collection was acquired by the Berlin State Museum. Heinz continued to collect right up until his death and the portrait of Dora Maar hung in the museum alongside other major works in his collection by Picasso, Klee, Matisse, Giacometti. Picasso’s paintings portraying Dora Maar (his mistress and artistic companion in the late 1930s and early 1940s) are much celebrated – the most accomplished among them having realized consistently high prices at auction: Dora Maar au chat, of 1941, sold at Sotheby’s New York in May 2006 for $95,216,000 (£51,560,080) – the second highest price ever achieved for any work sold at auction; while the bronze Tête de Femme (Dora Maar), sold for $29.1 million at Sotheby’s New York in November 2007 – at the time, a record for any sculpture sold at auction. Like the artist’s most accomplished portraits of Maar, Tête de femme (La Lectrice - Dora Maar) is a psychologically intense and penetrating image, conveying the sitter’s physical beauty and radiant personality, as well as a sense of the anxiety and uncertainty of the times. Also from the Berggruen collection is Picasso’s Minotaure et Femme, which is estimated at £900,000-1,200,000. During the Surrealist period of his career, Picasso often used subjects from classical mythology, and the image of minotaur, half-man, half-bull, became one of his key figures from this time. In 1933 Picasso executed another version of this subject for the cover for the first issue of Minotaure, a Surrealist periodical published by Albert Skira and Tériade in Paris.

Painted in 1877–78, Poires et couteau is an intimate work encapsulating the essence of Paul Cézanne’s vision. This work comes to sale from family of Joan Whitney Payson – one of America’s preeminent collectors of the 20thcentury. Joan and her brother John Hay Whitney were a formidable collecting duo – buying independently throughout their lives, but with equal vigour. Of the top 25 works ever sold at auction, no fewer than five are from the Whitney collection and were sold at Sotheby’s. Most recently, Gauguin’s Te Poipoi made $39,241,000 (£18,500,000) at Sotheby’s New York – the highest price for any work in the Impressionist and Modern category sold anywhere at auction in 2007. In Poires et couteau the elements of the composition are reduced to the essentials, and the simplicity of the arrangement allows Cézanne to explore the shape of the objects, building up their volume through his masterful modulations of colour and dynamic structure.

Renoir’s La Loge in the Courtauld Institute of London is one of the most celebrated and best-loved Impressionist paintings in London, and will be the subject of a special exhibition later this season. The painting, which is an important example of the artist’s early Impressionist portraiture, depicts Renoir’s brother Edmond and the Montmartre model Nini in a fashionable box at the opera - a subject popular with Renoir and his contemporaries.

Following on from the recent record price for Monet achieved at Sotheby’s last London sale in June 2007 for the artist’s 1904 Nymphéas, a magnificent example of Claude Monet’s early landscapes will be offered for sale. Monet executed his first views of this area in 1864, and in early 1867 a heavy snowfall inspired him to paint several snow scenes, including this work. After this, one of his earliest winter landscapes depicting the snow-covered road between Trouville and Honfleur, Monet would return to this subject throughout his career, fascinated by the snow, the possibilities it afforded him as a painter, and delighted by the unique quality of winter light.

Schokko (Schokko mit Tellerhut) is among the most powerful and stylized of all Alexej von Jawlensky’s female portraits. Before posing in Jawlensky’s cold studio the young model depicted here liked to drink a cup of hot chocolate, and her requests for ‘a cup of Schokko’ led to her nickname. The artist himself identified this phase in his career as crucial: ‘I painted my finest... figure paintings in powerful, glowing colours and not at all naturalistic or objective... It was a turning point in my art. It was in these years up to 1914, just before the war, that I painted my most powerful works’. Born in Torzhok in Russia, Jawlensky moved first to Moscow (in 1880) and then to Munich (in 1896). There he became one of the leading forces in the group der Blaue Reiter, establishing himself as one of the leading Expressionist painters of the day. When it last appeared on the market in 2003, Schokko (Schokko mit Tellerhut) sold at Sotheby’s New York for $8,296,000 – a record price that still stands today. The demand for Expressionist works has increased dramatically in recent times: for example in 2007 Lyonel Feininger’s Jesuits III sold for a record price of $23.2 million at Sotheby’s.

Also in the German & Austrian section of the sale is a collection of German Expressionist Art from a European private collector comprising 10 important works (with an estimate of £10.3 million). Acquired primarily in the 1980s, the majority of the works in this collection have not been seen in public for some time. They include major pieces by Emil Nolde, Franz Marc and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner. This remarkable offering follows on from the record price of $20.2 million established at Sotheby’s in New

Marc’s oeuvre, red horses, and this important work is the only example from the artist’s Weidende Pferde series still in private hands. Marc believed that the horse, with its flowing mane and strong, sinuous physicality, symbolised the ideal beauty of nature. Weidende Pferde III, painted in 1910, is a magnificent example that already exemplifies the objectives of this new wave of German Expressionism. The rhythmic dynamic postures of the four horses and vibrant colours of the composition evoke the sensation of movement reinforced by the bright greens and yellows of the meadows. Other examples now hang in the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich, in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, and in the Busch-Reisinger Museum in Harvard.

Today's News

January 12, 2008

Sotheby's February Impressionist & Modern Art Sale Estimates in Excess of GBP100 Million

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