World records for women artists at Bonhams Surrealist sale in London
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World records for women artists at Bonhams Surrealist sale in London
Valentine Hugo’s Portrait d'Arthur Rimbaud achieves £1,042,750 – a new world record for the artist. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- Portrait d’Arthur Rimbaud by Valentine Hugo (1887-1968) achieved £1,042,750 – a new auction world record for the artist – at Bonhams’ The Mind’s Eye / Surrealist Sale today (Tuesday 8 March) in London. The work had a pre-sale estimate of £400,000 - £600,000 and was the top lot of the sale.

Hannah Noel-Smith, Head of UK & Europe Impressionist & Modern Art, commented: “We’re absolutely delighted with the results of today’s sale, and especially the fantastic results for works by women artists – a particularly fitting achievement on International Women’s Day. Valentine Hugo’s captivating Portrait d’Arthur Rimbaud was a rarely offered masterpiece, and this clearly shows that her work is finally receiving the recognition it deserves.”

The 66-lot sale made a total of £1,725,525 with 71% sold by lot and 99% sold by value.

Valentine Hugo (1887-1968) is often considered to be one the great forgotten women of the Surrealist movement. Despite her close relationships within the group and participation in some of the earliest Surrealist exhibitions, she was notably excluded by André Breton from his seminal book Le Surréalisme et la Peinture (1928). Their love affair years later seemed to seal her fate – ending in a punch in the face for him, a suicide attempt by her. Hugo was highly regarded for her work with the Ballets Russes – Jean Cocteau called Hugo his “little swan”, and the pair collaborated on numerous of projects.

Other highlights of the sale include:

• Grace Pailthorpe (1883-1971), Untitled. Sold for £14,000. A new auction world record for a work by the artist. As well as being a leading member of the British Surliest movement, Grace Paillthorpe was also a qualified surgeon, and noted psychology researcher. She contributed to the International Surrealist Exhibition held in London 1936, and her paintings and drawings were greatly praised by André Breton, amongst others.

• Ithell Colquhoun (1906-1988), Landscape of nightmare. Sold for £21,500.

• Leonor Fini (1907-1996), Metamorphosis of a Woman (Metamorphose Einer Frau). Sold for £16,500.

• Leonor Fini (1907-1996), Personnage (Horned figure). Sold for £16,500.

• Marcel Mariën (1920-1993), Le Pornographe. Sold for £9,562. A new auction world record for a work by the artist.

• Max Ernst (1891-1976), Méduse circonflexe (Painted in 1933). Sold for £312,750.

• Victor Brauner (1903-1966), Sans Titre. Sold for £50,250.

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