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Sotheby's May 2010 Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art Brings $195 Million
The sale was led by Henri Matisse’s Bouquet pour le quatorze juillet, which climbed to $28,642,500 (est. $18/25 million). This EPA/YM YIK.

NEW YORK, NY.- Tonight at Sotheby’s, the spring Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art brought a total of $195,697,000, nearly reaching the high end of the presale estimate (est. $141/204 million). Forty-three works achieved prices over $1 million, ten works exceeded $5 million, four works brought prices over $10 million, and two works sold for over $15 million. The sale was 87.7% sold by lot and 92.4% sold by value. Two artist records were set: Isamu Noguchi’s Undine (Nadja) soared to $4,226,500 (est. $600/900,000) and Salvador Dalí’s Spectre du soir sur la plage totaled $5,682,500 (est. $4/6 million). The evening’s top price was achieved by Henri Matisse’s spectacular Bouquet pour le quatorze juillet, the artist’s emotional celebration of the first Bastille Day following World War I, which totaled $28,642,500 (est. $18/25 million).

“Tonight’s sale result of $195.7 million was close to the high estimate, and it was wonderful to see things moving in the right direction,” said Simon Shaw, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department in New York. “We saw very vigorous and spirited bidding and achieved a total that surpassed that of November and tripled the results achieved in May 2009. We are absolutely delighted with these results.”

“We witnessed a quest for quality this evening,” continued Emmanuel Di Donna, Vice Chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department Worldwide. “This was especially evident in the sale of Modigliani’s Jeanne Hébuterne au collier, believed to be the very first portrait of Modigliani’s future wife and muse; the Matisse’s Bouquet pour le quatorze juillet, a still life of considerable color and scale; and Rodin’s Penseur, a rare lifetime cast with a fully documented provenance. What was also notable was the depth of spirited bidding, illustrated by multiple bidders on many lots from clients who came from all over the world.”

Tobias Meyer, Worldwide Head of Contemporary Art and tonight’s auctioneer noted, “The activity in tonight’s salesroom showed that art is globally desired.”

The sale was led by Henri Matisse’s Bouquet pour le quatorze juillet, which climbed to $28,642,500 (est. $18/25 million). This work heralds the fresh and colorful style that would define Matisse’s career from 1919 onward, and signals the artist’s renewed sense of optimism following one of the most troubling periods of his career. Amedeo Modigliani’s beautiful Jeanne Hébuterne au collier, circa 1916-17, which had not appeared at auction in nearly 70 years, was also hotly contested in a battle and purchased by a Japanese private collector for $13,802,500 (est. $8/12 million).

Demand for classic Impressionist pictures remained strong, with Monet’s 1890 landscape Effet de printemps à Giverny climbing to $15,202,500 (est. $10/15 million). Also by Monet, Fin d’après-midi, Vétheuil, 1880, brought $6,242,500, exceeding its estimate of $2.8/3.5 million. The first lot of the sale, Le Jardin d’Octave Mirbeau à Dampes (Eure), 1892, by Camille Pissarro climbed to $2,658,500 (est. $1.2/1.8 million), selling to a European private collector.

Sculpture was highly sought after this evening. Auguste Rodin’s iconic Le Penseur (conceived 1880-81) totaled $11,842,500 (est. $4/6 million) after a lengthy three-way battle. A cast of the same size, date and foundry is in the Musée Rodin, Paris. Isamu Noguchi’s sensual Undine (Nadja) far exceeded its estimate, selling for $4,226,500 (est. $600/900,000) and achieving a world auction record for the artist after being hotly pursued by at least seven bidders.

Picasso’s Femme au grand chapeau, buste, 1965, was among the stars of the evening, bringing $9,322,500 (est. $8/12 million). The picture was inspired by Jacqueline Roque, the last love of his life, whom he married in 1961. It belonged to the collector Patricia Kennedy Lawford (1924-2006), daughter of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and sister to President John F. Kennedy. Picasso’s 1961 iron sculpture entitled Tête de femme rose to $3,666,500 (est. $1.8/2.5 million) and his oil on paper Buste de femme, 1940, totaled $1,594,500 (est. $1.5/2 million).

Kees van Dongen’s Jeune fille au chapeau fleuri, painted 1907-09, achieved $4,002,500 (est. $4.5/6.5 million). As is characteristic of his best Fauvist work, van Dongen makes use of sharp tonal, shifts, such as the bright clusters of flowers that contrast beautifully against her stark wardrobe. Also by can Dongen, Femme au chapeau de roses, circa 1910-1911, totaled $3,778,500(est. $2/3 million).

Among the Expressionist highlights of the evening was Lyonel Feininger’s spectacular Der rote Geiger (The Red Fiddler) of 1934, which came directly from the collection of the family of the artist and achieved a total price of $7,362,500 (est. $5/7 million). This picture marks the first time the fiddler appeared in Feininger’s oils, and it is also the only oil painting completed by the artist outside of his studio while visiting the Baltic village of Deep during his summer holidays in the 1930s. Wassily Kandinsky’s resonant meditation on the celestial beauty of circles Vertiefte Regung (Deepened Impulse) brought a total of $5,682,500 (est. $4.5/6.5 million) and had been in private hands for over seventy years. Another Kandinsky painting, Kühle (Fraícheur), beat the top estimate when it sold for $1,594,500 against an $800,000/1.2 million estimate.

Among the Surrealist works achieving strong prices tonight was Salvador Dalí’s Spectre du soir sur la plage from 1935 which sold for $5,682,500 against a $4/6 million estimate to set a new record for the artist at auction. Joan Miró’s 1973 Personnages dans un paysage sold for $3,442,500 against a $3/4 million estimate and Peinture (Le Cheval de Cirque), also by Miró, exceeded the $1.5/2 million estimate to sell for $2,658,500.

Sotheby's | Emmanuel Di Donna | Impressionist and Modern Art | Salvador Dalí | Henri Matisse |

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