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Rare Munch aquatint leads Old Master, Modern & Contemporary Prints Sale at Christie's
Roy Lichtenstein, Nude Reading (C. 288) relief print in colours, 1984, on BFK Rives mould-made paper, signed and dated in pencil, numbered 2/60 (there were also 12 artist's proofs), published by Tyler Graphics, Ltd., Mount Kisco, New York, the full sheet, not examined out of the frame, apparently in excellent condition, I. 607 x 771 mm., S. 778 x 922 mm. Estimate 40,000-60,000 British pounds. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.
LONDON.- Christie’s announced the sale of Old Master, Modern and Contemporary Prints, at King Street on Wednesday 20 March 2013. The sale is led by a rare and important colour aquatint by Edvard Munch, Young Woman on the Beach, 1896 (estimate: 500,000 – 700,000). Only eleven impressions of this work are known to exist. Featuring 176 lots with estimates ranging from 3,000 to 700,000 the auction is expected to realise in excess of 3 million; providing exceptional opportunities for established and new collectors around the world.

“Munch produced only a small number of colour aquatints over a very short period of time, between 1896 and 1897 in Paris, of which he only made very few impressions. The artist inked each print individually in different colour combinations, and as a result, they are all unique and vary greatly in mood and character” explains Tim Schmelcher, Head of the Prints Department, London.

A great rarity and a quintessential Munch image, this particular impression of Young Woman on the Beach, 1896 has its own, remarkable story: it was once owned by the art historian Curt Glaser, director of the Kupferstichkabinett (the Print Room of the State Museums) in Berlin during the 1920s and one of the artist’s first great supporters. In 1933 Glaser, who by then was director of the State Art Library, was dismissed by the fascist government and, in order to finance his emigration, forced to sell his art collection. This print, amongst others, was bought by the Kupferstichkabinett where it remained until last year, when it was restituted to Glaser’s heirs.

“Munch sets the tone for this sale” says Tim Schmelcher. “Another print from Glaser’s collection, Old Man praying (estimate: 30,000 – 50,000) from 1902, really shows why Munch’s prints had such an impact on the art of the 20th century. In particular his woodcut style was highly influential on artists like Emil Nolde and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.”

The sale offers a fine selection of German Expressionist prints, including works by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Erich Heckel, Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, and Emil Nolde.

Another highlight of the sale is Max Beckmann’s (1884-1950) Selbstbildnis mit steifem Hut (Self-Portrait with Bowler Hat) (estimate: 70,000-100,000). Executed in 1921, Beckmann portrays himself as a seemingly confident dandy, yet his eyes are full of doubt and unease. Since his first self-portrait at the age of only seventeen, Beckmann returned to his own likeness as a subject no fewer than thirty-five times, rivaling Rembrandt as possibly the greatest self-portraitist in the history of printmaking. He worked in drypoint, lithography and woodcut throughout his life, but it was the powerful immediacy of drypoint - whereby the image is scratched directly into the metal – which was his preferred method.

Other great works of modern printmaking offered in the sale include Pablo Picasso’s Femme au corsage Fleurs (estimate: 50,000 – 70,000), a striking portrait of his second wife and last great love, Jacqueline Roque; and Grande Natura Morta con la Lampada a destra, 1928 (estimate: 20,000-30,000), one of the most important etchings by Giorgio Morandi, whose printed oeuvre is currently exhibited at the Estorick Collection in London.

Another of the ‘founding fathers of modern art’ and a contemporary of Munch’s, Paul Gauguin, is featured in the sale with four works, including Le Porteur de F (estimate: 25,000 – 35,000), a rare woodcut printed in Tahiti in 1898-1899, where the artist lived during the last years of his life in search of an earthly paradise.

The Contemporary section of the sale is led by Nude Reading, 1984 by Roy Lichtenstein, whose oeuvre is currently celebrated in a retrospective at Tate Modern (estimate: 40,000-60,000). Contrasting Lichtenstein’s light-hearted eroticism are the mysterious works of the South African artist William Kentridge, whose large and somber etching Reeds, 1996 (estimate: 25,000- 35,000) calls to mind Claude Levi-Straus’ famous phrase ‘tristes tropiques’.

The sale concludes with a strong group of prints by Andy Warhol, whose subjects oscillate between the fabulous and the sinister, between Liza Minelli (estimate: 40,000-60,000) and Red Lenin (estimate: 30,000-50,000); Giant Panda, from: Endangered Species (estimate: 15,000-25,000) and Dollar Signs, 1982 (estimates: 40,000-60,000); Superman, from Myths (estimate: 60,000-80,000) and Chairman Mao (with estimates ranging from 20,000 to 50,000).

Following the recent success of Albrecht Drer: Masterpieces from a Private Collection sale at Christie's, New York, January 2013 – which saw a new record for the artist established - Old Master prints in the London sale are led by Albrecht Drer’s Adam and Eve (estimate: 80,000-120,000). This engraving from 1504 is one of the best-known in his oeuvre and is thought to have been produced as a showpiece for the Italian market. With great skill Drer’s combined the painstaking realism and attention to detail for which the northern masters were renowned with classical nudes in the Italian style.





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