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An extraordinary portrait of Ferdinand Hodler sells for CHF 845,000 at Sotheby's Zurich
Ferdinand Hodler, Bildnis Valentine Godé-Darel. Oil on canvas, 34 x 24.5cm. Sold for CHF 845,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

ZURICH.- Today’s sale of Swiss Art at Sotheby’s Zurich was led by two extraordinary works by Ferdinand Hodler. A buyer present in the room purchased a magnificent portrait of Valentine Godé-Darel for CHF 845,000 (€690,313), making it the top lot of the evening. A beautiful landscape by the artist, Der Mont-Blanc am frühen Morgen, was sold for CHF 785,000 (€641,297). This late work by the Swiss master had been in the private collection of the celebrated art lover Jan Krugier. The event also saw records broken for several Swiss artists.

The evening event brought together 90 works reflecting the mastery of the country’s finest artists, from the 19th century to the current era. The overall result for the sale was CHF 7,359,625 (€6,012,360).

Speaking after the auction, Urs Lanter, Head of Sotheby’s Swiss Art Department noted: “This evening’s sale of Swiss Art clearly shows that rare works of high quality can fetch exceptional prices. New buyers and international collectors made a significant contribution to the overall result.”

Stéphanie Schleining, Geneva-based Specialist in the Swiss Art Department, also commented: “The great success this evening for works by Félix Vallotton confirms the strong demand among international collectors for the artist, who was recently featured in a retrospective exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris.”

Among the highlights of the sale was a masterpiece by Ferdinand Hodler, a magnificent painting of his muse, Bildnis Valentine Godé-Darel (Portrait of Valentine Godé-Darel) realised CHF 845,000/ €690,313 (LOT 28, est. CHF 800,000 – 1,200,000). The work, dated 1909 and part of a series of portraits produced by Hodler at the peak of his career, ranks among the most important of its genre. The final price for this painting places it among the three top results at auction for a portrait by Ferdinand Hodler.

Hodler’s unparalleled skill was also shown in a work depicting a classic Geneva scene: Der Mont- Blanc am frühen Morgen, 1918 (The Mont-Blanc in the early morning, 1918) (LOT 44, est. 600,000 – 800,000). This landscape is one of the last paintings completed by the Swiss master before his death on the 19th of May 1918. This late work came from the collection of the late Geneva-based dealer and collector Jan Krugier. The beautiful painting reached a final price of CHF 785,000 / €641,297 (LOT 44, est. CHF 600’000 – 800’000).

The sale also showcased the talent of Albert Anker. Two beautiful portraits of children led this ensemble. Both oil paintings Berner Mädchen (Young girl from Bern) and Schulknabe (Schoolboy) were sold for winning bids of CHF 725,000 / € 592,280 (LOT 13, est. CHF 600,000 – 800,000 and LOT 14, est. CHF 600,000 – 800,000 respectively). These fine works are wonderful examples showing the themes for which Anker is best known: the ordinary people of his time in a rural setting, and in particular their everyday activities. They underline Anker’s position as one of the most important Swiss portrait painters of the 19th Century.

Sotheby’s had the privilege this evening of offering a range of works illustrating the diversity of Félix Vallotton. Each of the paintings found a buyer, often exceeding by some margin the original estimate.The leading highlight, a composite landscape, features a classical composition - unusual for the artist - which captured the attention of collectors. Following competition from four telephone bidders, the museum-quality painting, Femmes portant des corbeilles à Marseille, 1901 (Women carrying baskets in Marseille, 1901) realised CHF 761,000 / €621,690 (LOT 32, est. CHF 380.000 – 450.000).

Swiss post-impressionism also stepped into the limelight in Zurich, thanks to Cuno Amiet and Giovanni Giacometti. The Giacometti painting Paesaggio con rododendri sold for more than double its low estimate for CHF 509,000 / €415,822 (LOT 24, est. CHF 200,000 – 300,000). The sale also featured a wonderful landscape by Cuno Amiet. Nebellandschaft, in which the representation of space and contours verges on abstraction, sold for CHF 317,000/ €258,969 (LOT 45, est. CHF 180,000 – 250,000).

The modern section of the sale offered up some exciting moments: a work by the constructivist painter Richard Paul Lohse, Neun vertikale systematische Farbreihen mit horizontaler und vertikaler Verdichtung, 1955/69, established a new record for the artist*. It sold for CHF 317,000 / €258,969 (LOT 85, est. CHF 150,000 – 200,000).

A new record was also set for Jean-Frédéric Schnyder*. His work Die Jungfrau von Isenfluh aus, 1986 (The Jungfrau from Isenfluh, 1986) sold for CHF 50,000 / €40,847 (LOT 60, est. CHF 6,000 – 8,000), more than six times the high estimate for the work. This result is testament to the artist’s increasingly strong presence in the auction market.

A third record for an artist’s work was broken for Camille Graeser*. The painting Translokation II was bought for CHF 87,500 / €71,482 (LOT 86, est. CHF 70'000 – 90'000).



Neun vertikale systematische Farbreihen mit horizontaler und vertikaler Verdichtung, 1955/69 (lot 85) Sold for CHF 317,000 (€258,969) Previous record set by Neun systematische Farbreihen mit horizontaler und vertikaler Verdichtung Sold for CHF 216,000 (€177,000), Christie’s Zurich, December 2011

WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR A WORK BY JEAN-FREDERIC SCHNYDER Die Jungfrau von Isenfluh aus, 1986 (lot 60) Sold for CHF 50,000 (€40,847) Previous record set by Ährenleserinnen (Jean François Millet) Sold for CHF 21,600 (€17,700), Sotheby’s Zurich, December 2006

Translokation II (lot 86) Sold for CHF 87,500 (€71,482) Previous record set by Polare dislokation Sold for CHF 81,560 (€66,750), Sotheby’s Amsterdam, April 2011

Zürichsee Pfingstmontag, 1972 (lot 57) Sold for CHF 15,000 (€12,254) Previous record set by Four Seasons (pair of studies) Sold for CHF 7,440 (€6,093), Zürichsee Auktionen, March 2011

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