The Impressionist & Modern Art sale on December 2 totalled 12.8m ($17.4m) and saw collectors and connoisseurs pay a superb tribute to Dina Vierny at Artcurial
who, in association with Sothebys Paris, were offering a selection of ten historic works from Dina Viernys private collection. This collection attracted keen international interest, especially from America, pulverizing its 3.4-5m estimate to bring a total of 9,326,800 ($12,637,814) premium, under the gavel of Francis Briest.
Bruno Jaubert, Head of the Modern Art Department at Artcurial, said that the sale is a tremendous success for Aristide Maillol, whose works have set new auction records on a par with those achieved by the great 20th century masters. It is also a success for the art market in France, confirming Paris as a major auction venue in the eyes of collectors from around the globe.
Three important works by Aristide Maillol, paying powerful witness to the inspiration he drew from Dina Vierny, were offered for sale.
Two achieved world records for Maillol : one for a sculpture, the other for a work on paper.
His lead sculpture La Rivière (1938-43) sold to an American bidder in the room for 6,177,266 ($8,370,300) after competitive bidding between an Asian collector and three other American bidders on the telephone (est. 2-3m).
The highest price for a Maillol sculpture had hitherto been the $3,085,750 (2,278,517) paid for Air, cast in lead by Georges Rudier (numbered 6/6), at Sothebys New York on 9 November 2000.
Maillols pastel study for La Rivière (1938) achieved 584,218 ($791,600), selling to an American collector against European underbidders (est. 250,000-350,000).
The previous record for a Maillol drawing was a chalk drawing entitled Girl Lying on Her Back (c.1938) sold for 272,000 ($368,800) at Picard in Paris on 3 June 1992.
Meanwhile Maillols final ever work, Harmony (1942/3), a bronze sculpture with brown patina, sold to an American collector for 596,610 ($808,400) against three English-speaking underbidders (est. 400,000-600,000).
A luminous series of four ink drawings of Dina Vierny by Henri Matisse, who looked after her during World War II at Maillols request, were sold well above their estimates (40,000-60,000): Dina à la Couverture Fleurie (1941) achieved 187,674; Dina au Bracelet and Dina Torse each sold for 162,900; and Dina Couchée (1941) took 150,500.
After the war Dina Vierny devoted much of her energy in promoting the Second Russian Avant-Garde, helping its leading lights such as Erik Bulatov and Ilya Kabakov (both born in 1933) leave the USSR. Works by each artist, acquired by Dina Vierny for her own collection, were offered for sale: Bulatovs spectacular canvas La Liberté II (1992) went to a European collector for 1.055m, against competition from Russian connoisseurs in the room (est. 600,000-800,000); while Ilya Kabakovs work ...Regarde-La! (1982) sold to a German collector for 249,600 (est. 60,000-80,000).
Four years after her death in 2009, Dina Viernys sons wished to pay homage to their mother by selecting ten items for auction from her personal collection. These had remained in the privacy of the family, and charted the extraordinary career of a remarkable lady who worked as a model, became a member of the Resistance, launched her own art gallery and ultimately founded the Maillol Museum in Paris.
Dina Vierny devoted her life to art. Her exceptional heritage takes the form of the Foundation she created in 1995, devoted principally to the work of Aristide Maillol.