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Sotheby's to offer works from the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem
Nighttime view of the Israel Museum. Photo: © Tim Hursley, courtesy of the Israel Museum.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced that it will offer a group of works from the collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem across a series of sales throughout the upcoming autumn and winter auction seasons, in both New York and London. The group will be led by works in the New York sales of Impressionist & Modern Art this November, including canvases by René Magritte, Camille Pissarro, Chaïm Soutine and Georges Braque, among others. The Israel Museum, founded in 1965, houses encyclopedic collections spanning from prehistory to the present day, and features the most extensive holdings of biblical and Holy Land archaeology in the world. In July 2010, the Israel Museum completed a three-year renewal project that included the first comprehensive re-evaluation of its nearly 500,000 object collection since its founding, together with the complete re-installation of its collection galleries, which, in turn, catalyzed a carefully focused process of collection refinement. Proceeds from the works on offer will benefit future acquisitions.

“We are honored to represent the Israel Museum,” said David Norman, Chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art department for North American. “This group of art works reflects the scope of the Museum’s holdings and contains a wide range of genres and styles, from Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary works to American, Latin and British paintings, illustrating many chapters in the development of late 19th and 20th Century Art. These works, representing such a wide variety of artists and stylistic innovations from this distinguished institution, will provide a rare opportunity for a diverse group of collectors.”

James Snyder, Director of the Israel Museum, commented, “In July 2010, the Israel Museum celebrated the completion of a comprehensive three-year renewal program, which included the creation of new galleries, orientation facilities, and public spaces, and the complete reinstallation of the Museum’s encyclopedic collections. As part of this process, the Museum conducted an extensive evaluation of its holdings, which, thanks to the generosity of donors worldwide, have grown dramatically since its founding in 1965. In an effort to refine and strengthen these holdings, the Museum is implementing a carefully focused de-accessioning plan. This plan will eliminate redundancies and generate funds for the targeted acquisition of works that will enrich the collections and their presentation in the galleries, by amplifying focal points and filling gaps where they exist.”

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale – New York, 2 November 2011
The sale of works from the collection of the Israel Museum will be led by René Magritte’s Le droit chemin, an exceptional canvas from 1966 (est. $2.5/3.5 million*). The work is one of Magritte’s more esoteric examples of ‘elective affinities’, or the idea that seemingly unrelated objects bear some fundamental commonality – in this case, an apple and a massive stone. Their association becomes clear in the context of physics: the emblematic apple alludes to Isaac Newton’s discovery of gravity, while the stone visually evokes the concept of weight. A further conflation of the two seemingly-unrelated objects is achieved through the artist’s rendering of the apple out of the same stone material as the domed form behind it. This petrification of organic material within the artist’s compositions is a consistent theme through the 1950s and 60s. Executed in the last years of Magritte’s life, Le droit chemin exemplifies the clarity of thought and execution that the artist reached in his mature works.

Le Louvre, matin, printemps is one of a powerful series of works from Camille Pissarro’s unprecedented artistic study of Paris around the turn of the century (est. $1.5/2.5 million). After decades of concentrating on rural subjects, Pissarro spent the last years of his life examining the urban landscape of the French capital. He frequently changed apartments, choosing the best locale based on the views it might afford. In the present work, he carefully frames a view from an apartment in the Place Dauphine looking out over the Square du Vert-Galant, with the majestic façade of the Louvre emerging from the background.

Also on offer from the Israel Museum is an example of Marc Chagall’s circus pictures. Le cirque, painted circa 1975, is a prime example of the endless amount of pleasure he took in depicting the visual splendor of the circus (est. $1.5/2.5 million). The work is populated mainly by circus performers, who had many levels of significance for Chagall; to him, they represented the many faces of man’s emotional character, both fun-loving and tragic.

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale – New York, 3 November 2011
The works from the Israel Museum will also feature canvases by Pablo Picasso and Auguste Herbin. Picasso’s Paysage a Mougins is a swirling, dynamic and vibrant landscape from 1965 (est. $500/700,000). The artist spent the last 12 years of his life in Mougins, and this composition is likely a view from his studio there. Nature morte by Herbin will be featured on the cover of the Day Sale catalogue (est. $400/600,000). The towering masterpiece from 1912 demonstrates the influence of Cézanne on the artist, alongside the freshly-minted principles of nascent Cubism.

Impressionist works in the Day Sale include Eugène Boudin’s Bateaux a l’ancre dans le port, a large-scale port scene painted with lively brushstrokes and a brooding mass of clouds that herald the beginnings of plein air painting ($600/800,000). Boudin was a mentor to Claude Monet, and the use of light in the present work demonstrates Boudin’s influence on the artist. Portrait de Gabrielle by Pierre-Auguste Renoir is a tender portrait of the artist’s beloved model Gabrielle, which showcases his well-known predilection for ornate women’s hats ($700,000/1 million).

Works from the Collection of The Israel Museum, Jerusalem
• Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale – New York, 2 November 2011
• Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale – New York, 3 November 2011
• Contemporary Art Evening Auction – New York, 9 November 2011
• Contemporary Art Day Auction – New York, 10 November 2011
• Latin American Art – New York, 16 November 2011
• 20th Century British Art – London, 16 November 2011
• American Paintings, Drawings & Sculpture – New York, 1 December 2011
• Contemporary Art Day Auction – London, February 2012

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium

Sothebys | Israel Museum | auction | Impressionist | Modern Art |

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