Published: March 1, 2017
LONDON — The third highest price for any work ever sold in Europe was achieved at Sotheby’s on March 1 as Gustav Klimt’s “Bauerngarten (Flower Garden)” set a new record for a landscape by the artist at $59,321,248. It was the top lot of the firm’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art.
“Bauerngarten” was painted during the golden period of Klimt’s career and was a highlight of the critically acclaimed “Painting the Modern Garden” exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts in London in 2016. This work was offered at auction for the first time in more than two decades, and four bidders competed to bring the work’s record price.
Landscapes are integral to Klimt’s oeuvre, revealing a more personal and experimental side to his painting that differs from his portraits, which were, for the most part, commissions. The inspiration for “Bauerngarten” was found in the rustic garden of a local farmer, with its informal profusion of poppies, daisies and roses transformed into a shimmering array of color. At the same time, even in his landscapes, there is often an echo of a figure – here, the shape of a woman is almost tangible under the triangular composition of blazing colors of the flowers. Indeed, “Bauerngarten” was painted at the same moment as some of Klimt’s most celebrated and innovative figurative works, including his golden portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer and the gilded “The Kiss.”
Also setting a record at the sale was “Plant De Tomates” by Pablo Picasso, which was also hotly contested by four bidders and soared to an above-estimate $21,063,935.
With nearly $150 million worth of art sold within the first hour, the sale also saw Amedeo Modigliani’s powerful introspective “Portrait Of Baranowski” bring $19,811,878 and Gauguin’s sublime depiction of Tahiti selling for $10,351,888.
Watch for a complete report on this sale in an upcoming issue.
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