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Christie's to offer exceptional works on paper from the Triton Collection Foundation
Odilon Redon (1840-1916), Rêverie. Pastel and charcoal on paper. Executed circa 1900. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2015.

LONDON.- Christie’s has been entrusted with the sale of a unique selection of rare works on paper from the renowned Triton Collection Foundation, spanning over three centuries of art history and representing the most important avant-garde movements of the 19th and 20th Century, including works by Pablo Picasso, Camille Pissarro, Paul Cézanne, Fernand Léger, Francis Picabia, Gino Severini, Odilon Redon, André Derain and Salvador Dalí, many of which will be offered at auction for the first time. Forty nine of the works will be sold in the single owner evening sale Exceptional Works on Paper from the Triton Collection Foundation on 25 March 2015 in Paris during the Salon du Dessin. A further selection of works will be offered across auctions in Paris and London throughout 2015 and early 2016.

The privately owned Triton Collection Foundation holds one of the most important collections of the 19th and 20th Century avant-garde art in private hands worldwide. It comprises a few hundred works from three centuries of global art from Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque and Vincent Van Gogh to Yves Klein, Gerhard Richter, Ellsworth Kelly, Marina Abramovich, and Ai Weiwei. The founders of the Triton Collection Foundation make their collection accessible to the public by lending works to public institutions. A continuing programme of loans to over seventy museums worldwide as diverse as the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid, the Seoul Museum of Art and the Cleveland Museum of Art have ensured that a global audience has the chance to enjoy outstanding works from the collection.

“The Triton Collection Foundation is a leading example of private collecting supporting public purposes. The Cordia family has generously shared its collection with others for many years. They are famed for the care they take to only invest in the very finest examples of an artist’s work. The selection of works on paper which form the Paris single owner sale represents one of the most outstanding groups of drawings from the European avant-garde art to come to market for very many years. To emphasise this once in a lifetime opportunity for international collectors and the unique provenance, buyers will be able to have works marked with a stamp, registered with the Lugt Foundation that certifies The Triton Collection Foundation’s previous ownership” commented Tudor Davies, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s Paris.

“Although the core of the Triton Collection Foundation’s collection will remain intact, we don’t part easily from these carefully selected works. However, no living art collection is ever static, moreover it needs to be able to adapt to on-going artistic development and innovation. Triton intends to use its new acquisitions to remain at the forefront of European collections and a home for the avant-garde, which we shall continue to share with the public in its widest form” explained the Cordia Family, the founders of the Triton Collection Foundation.

The Paris single owner evening sale Exceptional Works on Paper from the Triton Collection Foundation on 25 March 2015 will be led by Gino Severini’s (1883-1966) La modiste. Drawn in 1915 - the current year now marking the centennial of its creation – La modiste reflects aspects of the transcendent futurist style, virtually abstract, which Severini achieved concurrent to the outbreak of the First World War. At the same time, by re-introducing one of his pre-war belle époque subjects, likely a response to the tragedy of the conflict and in contrast to his cold steel treatment of such military themes as the famous Train blindé en action of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Severini was about to move into a cubist phase, more in the manner of Picasso, Gris and other painters in Paris during the war. Among all the avantgarde artists at that time who called themselves either cubists or futurists, each faction often denigrating and even dismissing the other, Severini alone was magnanimously bipartisan in his outlook and affinities. La modiste, formerly owned by British art and music critic Sir Sacherverell Reresby Sitwell (1897-1988), a distinguished figure on the British literary scene between the two World Wars known for his books on Mozart and Liszt, will be offered at an estimate €400,000-600,000.

Another highlight of the 25 March sale is the widely exhibited La boija (1900, estimate €300,000500,000) by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). The drawing in ink, gouache and pastel – a haunting image of a solitary woman by the seashore, her face elongated, mannerist mask of pain – is the most powerful and inspired of a group of magazine illustrations that Picasso created during spring and summer 1900, in the months leading up to his first trip to Paris and shortly after the very first solo exhibition of his career. The senior members of the Catalan modernista movement - Santiago Rusiñol, Ramon Casas and Miquel Utrillo – had offered Picasso to show in the Sala Gran of El Quatre Gats. Shortly after the closure the exhibition Picasso was ready for a bigger stage and left for Paris. To raise additional funds for the trip, he took on a range of commercial work including posters and magazine illustrations. La boija embodies this moment of youthful ambition: “Unlike the other illustrations”, John Richardson has proclaimed “this one hints at the greatness to come”. By the next fall Picasso had embarked upon the earliest major canvases of his celebrated Blue Period, whose destitute outcasts are heralded in La boija with its pervasive blue tonality and its compelling depiction of female suffering.

Half way into the century, which began with La boija, the cover lot of Exceptional Works on Paper from the Triton Collection Foundation was executed: Danseuse au tambourin (1954, estimate €250,000350,000) by Fernand Léger (1881-1955), which was acquired by the Triton Foundation 15 years ago. Fernand Léger painted Danseuse au tambourin as he was working on the état définitif of his final mural La grande parade, the crowning masterwork of his career, which he completed in 1954. Standing in front of the movable circus organ and flourishing a tambourine over her head, this modishly short haired young woman is present in both the 1er état of La grande parade, 1952 and the ultimate version of more than a year later, as well as in many studies done in the interim. La grande parade is the culmination of a long line of circus scenes that Léger executed over a period of nearly four decades; indeed, the circus was in Léger’s view a genuine art of the people, a fabled way of life with estimable traditions of its own. He closely identified with circus performers; each was an artist skilled in his or her act, often defying danger, just as the modern artist, in his avant-garde calling, risked the peril of failure.

A selection of seven works from the Collection will also be included in the Impressionist/Modern Works on Paper sale in London on June 24th. Highlights of this group will include works by Edouard Manet and Marc Chagall.

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