Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 12 will feature an exceptional selection of 52 works by the most revered artists of the early 20th century. Led by outstanding paintings by Monet, Picasso, and Modigliani, many of which have not been on the market for decades, including Frida Kahlo’s dream like love scene of Dos Desnudos en el bosque.
Le bassin aux nymphéas by Claude Monet (1840-1926) (estimate: $25,000,000-35,000,000) leads the sale and belongs to the artist’s most popular and arguably influential series, which lent inspriation to generations of subsequent artists in the twentieth century. This work is part of a sequence of 14 paintings that Monet most likely began in the spring or summer of 1918 and finished by late 1919, when he dated and sold the canvas to the Impressionist dealer Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in 1919. It was then bought by Henri Canonne, a Parisian pharmaceutical tycoon and major collector of Impressionism in 1928. Canonne owned more than forty paintings by Monet, including seventeen canvases from the Nymphéas series. The painting has been in the present collection for 20 years.
Monet’s Au Petit-Gennevilliers (estimate: $12,000,000-18,000,000), belongs to another celebrated series from Monet’s early career, when he painted various scenes of Argenteuil in 1874. The site itself is widely linked with the birth of Impressionist painting and provided endless inspiration for Monet and the other impressionists at that time. This painting will be on the market for the first time since 1899. It was purchased by the famed American collector Henry Osborne Havemeyer in 1901 and has remained in the family ever since.
Also featured is Amedeo Modigliani’s (1884-1920) Jeune femme à la rose (Margherita) (estimate: $12,000,000-18,000,000) painted in 1916. This portrait is a quintessentially modern painting of the female figure painted in Modigliani’s signature style- with a patrician long neck and oval face, large eyes and small, red lips. Here he adds the uncoventional, and alluring adornment of a rose in the subject’s décolletage, further heightening her seductive allure. It is the finest of a series of three paintings from 1916 recorded by Ambrogio Ceroni that takes a dark haired and brown-eyed young woman as its subject. It has been suggested that the model is the artist’s older sister Margherita.
Highlighting the modern section is Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) Homme assis, 1969 ( estimate: $8,000,000-12,000,000) from the Collection of Kenneth and Susan Kaiserman. The colorful portrait of an exuberant swordsman derives from the critical group of Picasso’s famed late mousquetaire works and was exhibited at the famous 1970 Avignon exhibition at the Palaisdes Papes.
The sale also showcases important works on paper by Picasso from the Francey and Dr. Martin L. Gecht Collection, including
La Minotauromachie, 1935 (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000),
La Femme qui pleure, 1937, (estimate: $1,800,000-2,500,000),
and La Femme au Tambourin, 1939 (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000).
The sale presents Frida Kahlo’s (1907-1954) Dos desnudos en el bosque (La tierra misma), 1939, (illustrated left, estimate: $8,000,000-12,000,000). This small and exquisite surrealist painting depicts a dreamlike scene between two nude women in a forest alluding to Kahlo’s sexuality and identity. Gifted by the artist to Dolores del Río, the celebrated Mexican and American actress from the 1920s, the painting was last seen at market in 1989. This masterpiece has been both highly published and exhibited and last shown at Frida Kahlo: Art, Garden, Life at The New York Botanical Garden, May-November 2015.
Works by René Magritte (1898-1967) are led by Les profondeurs du plaisir, painted in 1947 (estimate: $4,500,000-6,500,000), a work that Magritte considered one of his masterpieces. The idea for this painting came to Magritte when his wife Georgette stood and looked out the window one summer evening.
Another painting by Magritte is L’explication, 1962 (estimate: $1,000,000-2,000,000), from a series where he locates the mystery in ordinary objects—the bottle morphs into a carrot.
On a related theme, Femme-bouteille, executed circa 1941 (estimate: $500,000-800,000) is from a series of works where Magritte transformed bottles into other objects--a nude woman with her hair cascading down the back of the bottle. The first owner of the present bottle was the surrealist artist Paul Delvaux who acquired the work from Magritte. The present owner acquired the work at auction in 1972.
Magritte at Auction: History
Other celebrated artists in the sale include works from The Ducommun Family Collection. Their collection includes
Georges Braque’s (1882-1963) Mandoline à la partition (Le Banjo), 1941, (estimate: $7,000,000-9,000,000) one of Braque’s greatest late career still-lifes;
and Henri Matisse’s (1869-1954) Nu couché III, conceived in Nice in 1929 and cast in 1931, (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000), an early cast from the edition of 10. Both works have been in same American collection for over forty years.
Leading a selection of several works by Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919),
Madame de Galéà, la méridienne painted in 1912 (estimate: $8,000,000-12,000,000) is a sumptuously clad and bejeweled Madeleine de Galéa, the great love of the legendary modern pictures dealer Ambroise Vollard. This is one of the largest paintings from Renoir’s late career and has been in a private collection since 1984.
Two further works by the artist from The MGM Resorts International Collection include Femme en bleu, painted in 1909 (estimate:$1,000,000-1,500,000),
and La Balayeuse, painted in 1889 (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000).
Renoir at auction