Saturday, February 11, 2017

Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale, 2.28: Paul Gauguin, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Auguste Rodin

The Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 28 February will present 51 lots from the birth of Impressionism through to some of the most important and ground-breaking movements of the 20th century, and will feature two esteemed European collections, The Personal Collection of Barbara Lambrecht and Le Corbusier: Important Works from the Heidi Weber Museum Collection, forming a focal point for the sale.


A major highlight is Paul Gauguin’s Te Fare (La maison) (estimate: £12,000,000-18,000,000), one of the most richly coloured of his Tahitian landscapes, painted on his first visit to the island. 

An homage to the spectacular Tahitian landscape, Te Fare (La maison) was created in 1892, the year that Paul Gauguin painted some of his greatest masterpieces. A large hibiscus tree dominates the composition, its rich emerald green leaves and just visible orange blossoms obscuring the purple-roofed house situated behind it. This wooden hut could, it has been suggested, be the artist’s own rented home in Mataiea. A quiet, enigmatic narrative seems to veil the scene, imbuing the composition with a deeper, psychological dimension, a reflection of Gauguin’s Symbolist involvement. In Te Fare (La maison) Gauguin has increasingly simplified and monumentalised the landscape, transcending reality by turning the natural world into a mystic vision of colour, line and form.  


A monumental portrait of two figures by Pablo Picasso titled Joueur de flûte et femme nue (1970, estimate: £6,500,000-8,500,000),

Joueur de flûte et femme nue depicts a voluptuous female nude, being softly serenaded by a bearded, flute-player seated next to her. The couple’s interlocking limbs, and the sensual, spontaneous style of the painting all serve to infuse the composition with a heady sense of eroticism, a feature that characterises much of Picasso’s late work. The unmistakable, hieratic profile of the seated nude in Joueur de flûte et femme nue is that of Jacqueline Roque, Picasso’s great love, wife and final muse, who first appeared in his work in 1954.


Canotage á Bougival (circa 1881, estimate: £3,700,000-4,700,000), a landscape by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, formerly in the collection of Albert C. Barnes, painted at a transitional moment in his career. 

Renoir is likely to have painted Canotage á Bougival in the spring of 1881, soon after returning from a two-month trip to Algeria, his first ever voyage outside of France.  During his travels, the artist had devoted himself fully to landscape painting, revelling in the dense and luxuriant foliage of palm and banana trees. Seeking to maintain the creative energy that the Algerian vistas had inspired in him, he continued to paint landscapes that bear witness to one of the central tenets of Impressionism: the plein-air master standing outdoors. Canotage á Bougival was acquired in 1920 by one of the most important collectors of the 20th Century: Dr Albert C. Barnes. Barnes's collection of modern art remains among the greatest of its kind, and features many works by Renoir, whom Barnes admired above all other painters.


Henri Matisse’s Jeune fille aux anémones sur fond violet (1944, estimate: £5,000,000-7,000,000), is part of a series of interior scenes that the artist created whilst living in Vence in the South of France

Depicting a young artist, Annelies Nelck, Jeune fille aux anémones sur fond violet is the first of three portraits by Matisse that features this model. Of these three works, the present oil is the only one to remain in private hands; the other two reside in the Musée Matisse, Nice, and the Honolulu Museum of Art, Hawaii. Wearing a red and orange Romanian blouse – one of Matisse’s adored collection of lavish dresses and ornate costumes that he often depicted his sitters in – Nelck is surrounded by blossoming flowers against a soft, mauve background, bringing Matisse's lifelong preoccupations with colour and line to a triumphant conclusion.


Auguste Rodin’s timeless expression of passionate love Le baiser (conceived circa 1882, estimate: £4,000,000-6,000,000). 

First conceived circa 1882, Le baiser  is one of the most iconic sculptures of Rodin’s entire oeuvre, renowned for its poetic depiction of two young lovers caught in a passionate embrace. Rodin’s work dramatically portrays the intense desire that has swept through these two figures, causing their bodies to intertwine in an almost spiral formation, as they succumb to their lustful impulses. Slightly larger than life size, the original marble version was exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1898.

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