NEW YORK.- Sotheby’s announced today that on the evening of May 6, 2003 it will offer for sale a masterpiece of Impressionist art, Pierre Auguste Renoir’s Dans les Roses (Portrait de Madame Léon Clapisson). This exquisite oil from 1882 is one of the greatest Impressionist works to appear on to the market in many years, and has not been seen in public for more than 65 years. The painting is estimated to sell for $20/30 million.
David Norman, Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Department Worldwide, said: “Dans les Roses ranks among Renoir’s most beautiful, figurative works. The superior brushwork and dazzling composition make this a truly museum-quality painting. Moreover, it is an exceedingly effective synthesis of the best characteristics of Renoir’s ‘high’ or ‘classic’ Impressionist style of the 1870s, and the more linear manner that he began to experiment with in the early 1880s. Not since Sotheby’s sale of Au Moulin de la Galette from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John Hay Whitney in 1990 for $78.1 million has a work of this quality by Renoir been available on the market.”
The large canvas (39 3/8 x 31 7/8 ins.) captures Madame Clapisson in the garden of the couple’s mansion in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a fashionable suburb on the edge of Paris. This work is clearly an inspired interpretation of the plein-air setting filled with lush greenery and a rich range of color highlighted by soft, dappled light. The present painting is the first of two portraits of Valentine Clapisson that Renoir painted in 1882-83. Remarkably, the painting was rejected by M. Clapisson who insisted that Renoir repaint his wife’s portrait in a more formal manner. The second work, a more conventional Parisian society portrait of the early 1880s, is now in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. In any case, distinguished Renoir scholar John House noted that the artist later recalled “that charming Mme. Clapisson, whose portrait I did twice, with what pleasure.” This extraordinary painting has not been exhibited publicly since 1937 when it was included in Renoir, His Paintings at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
This masterpiece will be on view in Sotheby’s 10th floor galleries from May 1st to 1pm on May 6th prior to its sale on the evening of May 6, 2003.