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Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art at Sotheby's in Paris
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), "Le Repos du Sculpteur", 22,6 x 28,7 cm, 8 7/8 x 11 ¼ in. Executed in Boisgeloup on 7th April 1933. Estimate: 400 000 – 600 000 EUR. Photo: Sotheby's.

PARIS.- Works from the André Level Collection, devoted mainly to Picasso, will be offered by Sotheby’s in Paris on June 3.

The name, taste and career of André Level (1863-1946) enjoy immense prestige among Picasso specialists, and are considered of legendary significance by Modern Art aficionados.

Level was a collector and financier, who in 1904 founded the first Modern Art investment fund, La Peau de l’Ours. The fund's policy was to make joint purchases of works by young painters, keep them for a decade, then re-sell them at auction. From 1906 La Peau de l’Ours decided to concentrate on works by a single artist: Pablo Picasso.

In 1928 André Level would write one of the first monographs on the artist, soberly entitled Picasso and illustrated with a lithograph revealing (anonymously) the face of Marie-Thérèse Walter for the first time – a face that would become the iconographical element most closely associated with his so-called Boisgeloup Period, probably the most lyrical in Picasso’s entire output. The collection includes two sublime drawings from this period: Sculptor at Rest, dated 7 April 1933 (estimate €400,000-600,000), and The Clarinetist from 1932 (est. €300,000-400,000).

Chaïm Soutine
Another sale highlight is Le Canard Blanc (1925), the finest still life by Chaïm Soutine to come on the market since 2007, and quasi-abstract in its frenzied brushwork. The torment which fired and inhabited Soutine bursts out on this richly coloured canvas, with Soutine's tremendous energy conveyed through his virtuoso brushwork (est. €700,000-1,0000,000). The creative fever evident here appears startlingly prescient of the boiling intensity of Francis Bacon or Willem de Kooning.

Cubist Works from a Major Paris Collection
Sotheby's will also offer an ensemble of four important Cubist works illustrating the Cubist virtuosity and colourist talents of André Lhote, Jean Metiznger, Louis Marcoussis and Georges Valmier. The works were acquired by a couple of Paris collectors in the 1970s and have not been seen on the market since.

Woman with Fan in an Oval is a masterpiece from the short-lived post-war period when Jean Metzinger, buoyed by a new contract with Léonce Rosemberg’s gallery L'Effort Moderne, produced his last truly Cubist pictures. For this Cubist composition, within a classical oval form, Metzinger borrowed the famous wood-effect from his friend Juan Gris. Here we see Cubism reconciled with powerful effects of perspective, delightful chromatic balance, and an unusual interplay of forms (est. €300,000-500,000).

Francis Picabia’s Loving Couple (1924-27) belongs to his 'Monsters' cycle that returned to themes taken from much earlier paintings which Picabia passionately explored and reinterpreted in a modern vein – based on rigorous and systematic analysis – to produce masterpieces of his own. Loving Couple brings to mind classical frescoes such as those in Barcelona's Museo Nacional d'Art de Catalunya. Picabia was inspired by the deformities and complex traits of these monstrous figures, and doubtless fascinated by their rhythm and distortions freed of strict respect for human (or animal) anatomy (est. €50,000-700,000).

A splendid Henri Hayden Still Life (1918) embodies the Cubist virtuosity and talent as colourist for which Hayden was famed. In the competitive climate of Montparnasse, Hayden ultimately became a convert to Cubism with what Salmon described as "calculated enthusiasm, dissociating colour from form, and reducing objects to elliptical signs. Hayden adhered to Cubism after producing much, and learning much about himself" (est. €180,000-250,000).

Wassily Kandinsky’s Schluss (1926) comes from a period when he was using the circle as a central motif in his compositions, explaining: ‘I find in the circle more inner possibilities, and that’s also why it has replaced the horse... Pictorially I have, in my paintings, recounted much that is 'new' in the circle, but theoretically, despite all my efforts, I can still say very little about it’ (est. €450,000-650,000).

The sale also includes André Masson’s superb Portrait of Goethe (1940) from a major Italian collection (est. €250,000-350,000). This powerful, front-rank work from Masson’s series of imaginary portraits is sure to appeal to Surrealist collectors mindful of how rarely Massons of such quality appear on the market.

Friday 28 May 2pm–6pm
Saturday 29 May 10am–6pm
Tuesday 1 June 10am–6pm
Wednesday 2 June 10am–2pm

Sotheby's | Impressionist & Modern Art | Wassily Kandinsky | André Masson |

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