Published: February 10, 2004
Christie’s evening sales of Impressionist and Modern Art and The Art of the Surreal were held in London February 2, and achieved a combined total of $72,244,249. The top price tonight was set by Paul Cézanne’s “Grand bouquet de fleurs,” painted circa 1892-95, which realized $8,172,126.
“Christie’s sale of Impressionist and Modern Art achieved one of the most successful totals ever in London, with vibrant bidding throughout,” commented Jussi Pylkkänen, auctioneer, international director of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century art department and deputy chairman of Christie’s UK. “The market overall has great depth and we saw very strong activity throughout all the varied sections of the sale. Particularly sought after areas continue to be Modernist works, in particular for German paintings and the Surrealist market continues to develop with our strongest sale ever staged this evening. We also saw an encouraging number of newer collectors participating this evening and this bodes well for the upcoming sales in 2004.”
The total for the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening sale was $55,147,658. Buyer activity was 73 percent from the UK and Europe, 21 percent from the Americas, three percent from Asia and three percent from others. The sale was 75 percent sold by lot and 69 percent sold by value. This is the fourth highest sale total ever achieved in London in the category at Christie’s. Twenty lots, well over two thirds of the works offered in the Impressionist and Modern sale, sold for more than $1 million, an unprecedented figure in London sales. Five further works sold for more than $1 million in the Art of the Surreal sale.
A new world record was established at auction for Lyonel Feininger when his outstanding “Zeitungsleser (Newspaper Readers II)” sold for $4,498,974. Arguably, one of the most significant works from his mature years, it was painted at a critical time in the history of Twentieth Century painting, and shows strong influences of Cubism and Futurism, the most significant movements of the prewar years. A new world record at auction was also established for the artist James Ensor tonight, when “Les bons juges,” an oil painted in 1891, sold for $1,335,982.
Building on Christie’s ongoing successes in the field of German and Austrian art, this sale offered a number of high profile works from the property of The Wilhelm Reinold Collection. Highlights from the collection included Max Beckmann’s “Frau mit Blumen,” an oil on canvas painted in Amsterdam in 1940 that achieved $2,764,430, almost three times the pre-sale estimate. Pablo Picasso’s “Dans l’Arène,” an oil on card bull-fighting scene, executed in Barcelona in 1900, was also offered from the collection and was purchased by the European trade for $1,723,703, again well ahead of pre-sale expectations.
Further highlights of German and Austrian works in the sale include “Danseuse aux bijoux (Anita)” by Kees van Dongen, an oil on canvas painted circa 1905 which sold for $2,617,576. The results this evening showed the continuing demand for the very best German works of art.
Further paintings by Picasso also sold strongly including the major canvas, which marks the artist’s reincarnation of his Cubist style in the 1920s. “Guitare sur un tapis rouge” sold for $3,274,590 to a European dealer.
A number of important works by René Magritte were sold with the highest price of $1,805,329 bid for the gouache, “Le retour,” establishing a record for a work on paper by the artist. Executed in 1950, the composition depicts a bird, painted sky blue with clouds, soaring over a tranquil night seascape. “Le trait d’union (hyphen),” painted in 1942, realized $1,070,698, and was another notable result for the artist.
Hans Arp’s “Configuration (Suivant la loi du hasard),” executed in 1932, sold for $723,790. The relief was offered from the collection of the Basler Kunstverein in Switzerland and was sold in order to fund a major renovation of the exhibition spaces at the Kunsthalle Basel.
Buyer activity in The Art of the Surreal was 76.5 percent from the UK and Europe, and 13.5 percent other. The sale was 79 percent sold by lot and 75 percent sold by value.
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