Published: November 12, 2007
At Sotheby’s November 7 evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art, the top lot was Paul Gauguin’s “Te Poipoi (The Morning),” one of the greatest Tahitian scenes by the artist remaining in private hands, which sold for $39,241,000.
The painting, which for the past 62 years had formed part of the illustrious American collection of Joan Whitney Payson, was purchased by the Hong Kong collector Joseph Lau.
Acquired by Payson and her husband, Charles, in 1945, Gaugin’s stunning scene of an exotic paradise hung alongside masterpieces by artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Pablo Picasso and others. It was consigned for sale by her family.
In “Te Poipoi,” Gauguin presents a highly idealized version of paradise, untouched by Western influence. This stunning canvas was painted on the island’s southern coastal region of Mataiea in September or October 1892, about a year into the artist’s first extended stay in French Polynesia. The title of the painting refers to the still and quiet morning hours when the local people began their day.
The sale totaled $269.7 million, and auction records were established for Franz Marc, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, for a sculpture by Pablo Picasso, a work on paper by Egon Schiele and a painting by Max Ernst. Ten lots sold for more than $10 million, 12 lots topped $5 million and 49 sold for $1 million or more.
A complete report on the sale will appear in a future issue.
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