The Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale and the auction of Art of the Surreal took place this evening at Christie’s and realised £134,999,400 / $213,299,052 / €162,269,279 selling 86% by lot and 93% by value. The sales had a combined pre-sale estimate of £86.2 million to £127.1 million.
At this evening’s auction, 4 lots sold for over £10 million, 6 for over £5 million and 28 for over £1 million. The sale attracted bidding from around the world and buyers originated from more than 21 countries in 4 continents. The top price was paid for Reclining Figure: Festival, 1951, by Henry Moore (1898-1986) which realized £19,081,250 / $30,148,375 / €22,935,663– a world record price for the artist at auction.
Giovanna Bertazzoni, International Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s: “These strong results illustrate that the art market continues to attract significant levels of spending, particularly for the rarest and most exceptional works of art. It is an extremely intelligent market where pricing is key – and where collectors react with the greatest determination to the rarest works of art, and particularly to those which are fresh to the market. We are particularly pleased to have established record prices for two great artists of the 20th century: Henry Moore and Joan Miró. In both cases, we offered works of art that were among the greatest produced by the artists, and their quality drew the most determined of bidding. It has been a great honour to have presented fine art from The Collection of Elizabeth Taylor, and to have seen three works sold this evening for twice our expectations. We look forward to the day sales tomorrow (8 February), and to the auction of ‘Living with Art’, a spectacular private collection, which will include a further offering of Impressionist and Modern Art and which takes place on 9 and 10 February. ”
Leading highlights of the sale:
- The top price was paid for Reclining Figure: Festival, 1951, by Henry Moore (1898-1986) which realised £19,081,250 / $30,148,375 / €22,935,663– a world record price for the artist at auction. In 1949, the year after Moore was awarded the international prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale, he was commissioned by the Arts Council to create a sculpture for the 1951 Festival of Britain; the sculpture sold at this evening’s auction is this work. Its importance lies not only in the significance of the commission itself but also it functions as a ‘key’ to this period of Moore’s work. It was acquired by an anonymous telephone bidder after a 5 minute bidding battle.
- Painting-Poem (“le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil”), 1925, by Joan Miró (1893-1983) sold for £16,841,250 / $26,609,175 / €20,243,183 – a world record price for the artist at auction (estimate: £6-9 million). Part abstract void, part lyrical free-form painting and part hand-written stream-of-consciousness poetry, Le corps de ma brune… is one of the finest and best-known of an extraordinary group of paintings made by the artist in 1925, in which he successfully pushed beyond the conventional boundaries of painting and the picture-plane to create a radical new mental space; fusing word image and painterly form into a new free-form of expression conveying an hallucinatory or dream-like state of consciousness.
- Le livre, 1914-1915, by Juan Gris (1887-1927) sold for £10,345,250 / $16,345,495 / €12,434,991. Executed in Paris between the end of 1914 and the start of 1915, the painting marks the artist’s change of stylistic approach to working from an abstract compositional armature towards its subject matter. First shown at the major post-war Cubisme exhibition at the Galerie de France, Paris, in 1945 and subsequently shown throughout Europe and America in the 1940s, 50s and 60s, it was then unseen for 30 years until the 2005 retrospective in Madrid.
- Three works of art from the storied Collection of Elizabeth Taylor fetched a combined £13,787,750 ($21,784,645 /€16,572,876), more than doubling their pre-sale low estimate of £6.2 million. An additional 35 works from the film star’s fine art collection will be offered for sale on 8 February as part of Christie’s continuing sales series devoted to Impressionist and Modern Art.
Vue de l’asile et de la Chappelle de Saint-Rémy, by Vincent van Gogh fetched the top price of the group at £10,121,250 ($15,991,575 /€12,165,743). The luminous landscape, painted in the turquoise and ochre hues of early autumn, is a view of the asylum where the artist spent his last months. Elizabeth Taylor’s father, the art dealer Francis Taylor, had purchased the painting on her behalf at auction in 1963 for £92,000. Up until her death in March of 2011, the painting had hung in the living room of Miss Taylor’s home in Bel Air, CA. Earlier in the sale, a youthful self-portrait by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) sold for £713,250 ($1,126,935 / € 857,327) and a large-scale landscape by Camille Pissarro (1830-1903) entitled Pommiers à Éragny realized £2,953,250 ($4,666,135 /€ 3,549,807).
In December 2011, Christie’s New York sold Miss Taylor’s exquisite collections of jewelry, fashion, decorative arts and memorabilia in a four-day marathon auction series that totaled $156.8 million and set multiple new auction records.
- Christie’s is honoured to have been entrusted by the Hubertus Wald Charitable Foundation with the sale of their founder’s collection. Hubertus Wald, a philanthropic collector from Hamburg, Germany, put together one of the great collections of 20th century art in continental Europe. At this evening’s auction, 17 works realised a combined total of £11,723,650 / $18,523,367 / €14,091,827 against a pre-sale estimate of £6.9 million to £10.5 million. Further works will be offered at upcoming London auctions, starting on 8 February at the Impressionist and Modern Art Day sales.
Art of the Surreal
Since 2001, Christie’s have dedicated a section of the February evening sale in London to surrealist art. This evening’s auction of Art of the Surreal realised £37,185,250 / $58,752,695 / €44,696,671 – the highest ever total for the category (included in the sale totals above). The top price was paid for Painting-Poem (“le corps de ma brune puisque je l’aime comme ma chatte habillée en vert salade comme de la grêle c’est pareil”), 1925, by Joan Miró (1893-1983) which sold for £16,841,250 / $26,609,175 / €20,243,183 – a world record price for the artist at auction (see above).
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Full results of the sales can be found at the following link: http://www.christies.com/results/
Notes to editors:
- The Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale realized £97,814,150 / $154,546,357 / €117,572,608 and was 86% sold by lot and 94% sold by value. The pre-sale estimate was £66.6 million to £97.7 million.
- Art of the Surreal realized £37,185,250 / $58,752,695 / €44,696,671 and was 87% sold by lot and 92% sold by value. The pre-sale estimate was £19.6 million to £29.1 million.
Related Departments Impressionist & Modern Art
Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had global auction and private sales
in 2011 that totaled £3.6 billion/$5.7 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that
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*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s
premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s
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