Tuesday, April 7, 2015


Also on sale: Pablo Picasso’s 1955 masterpiece Les Femmes d’Alger, Version “O” (estimate in the region of $140 million)- see separate report here.

Claude Monet’s Le Parlement, soleil couchant, a magisterial depiction of London’s Gothic Houses of Parliament, as viewed from across the River Thames. Estimated at US$35-45 million

Le Parlement, soleil couchant will be among the top lots of Christie’s Looking Forward to the Past evening auction on May 11, a curated selection of top-quality works that explores the most innovative artists and movements of the20thCentury.

This wonderfully expressive Monet is simply one of the greatest depictions of the Houses of Parliament by the greatest artist of the 19th Century.  Moreover, this picture heralds a new age in painting as artists were inspired by Monet to liberate colour and create wonderful abstractions by interpreting real subjects. One could argue that these pictures heralded the end of academic painting as artists were inspired to follow the path of abstraction from 1902 onwards. Monet was the father of modernism”.

Claude Monet’s Le Parlement, soleil couchant remains today one of the most entrancing series to have been composed by the artist duringthe finalphase of his career. Monet’s views of the Thames established a new departure in his work, preparing the ground for his last, mythic feat: the Nymphéas(Water Lilies) series. 

Depicting a beautiful sunset over the Houses of Parliament, Le Parlement, soleil couchant belongs to a group of nineteen views that Monet started working on in 1900 and 1901. Le Parlement, soleil couchant and all the other views of Parliament were painted during the late hours of the afternoon and in early evenings. The present work appears to be a fantastical vision: backlit by a luminous pink sky breaching through the crevice sof the clouds, while the silhouette of Parliament rises like a blue mirage, wavering above the water. Of the series, only five—Soleil couchant included—are still in private collections. The remaining fourteen are part of the collections of some of the world's most important museums, such as the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., the Muséed'Orsay in Paris and the Pushkin Museum in Moscow.


     On May 11, Christie's dedicated Evening Auction Looking Forward to the Past will present a major painting by Jean Dubuffet from the celebrated Paris Circus series. Executed in 1961 at the height of his creative development, this major work can be seen in both its scale and ambition as its epitome of his signature style from the 1960s. This highly chromatic and vibrant work has been featured prominently in every major museum exhibitions devoted to the artist. Estimated in the region of $25 million, Paris Polka is the ultimate masterpiece still in private hand to be offered at auction and will likely break the previous auction record of $7.4 million which was achieved last November in New York. Paris Polka is undoubtedly the best work by Dubuffet and amongst the four largest in scale from the series, the other ones are in museums, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Detroit Art institute.