1. Touched by the finger of Bonnard
Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), Avant-projet pour ‘L’Indolente’, circa 1899. Oil on canvas. 9 1/2 x 11 in. (24.2 x 28 cm.) Estimate: £30,000-50,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale on 3 February at Christie’s London
This small oil sketch painted with immediacy and candour, and brushed with the artist’s finger, is one of the first nudes depicted by Pierre Bonnard. The nude lies on the bed, one hand behind her head, one foot resting on the floor. Sated and content, she appears boneless, animal, part of the surrounding tumble of sheets and bedclothes.
It was after seeing the final version of this erotically charged work, which hangs today in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, that the famous art dealer and publisher Ambroise Vollard asked Bonnard to illustrate Parallèlement, the collection of Paul Verlaine’s poetry which was published in 1900.
2. A memento of a Roman affair
Victor Brauner (1903-1966), Composition, 16 March 1961. Oil on canvas. 25 1/2 x 21 1/5 in. (65.5 x 54 cm.) Estimate £50,000-80,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale on 3 February at Christie’s London
Born in Romania, Victor Brauner settled in Paris in 1930, living in the same building as Alberto Giacometti and Yves Tanguy. During this first spell in the French capital he painted Self-portrait with enucleated eye, in which his right eye was missing. In 1935, Brauner returned to Bucharest to join the Romanian Communist Party but was back living in Paris by 1938. In August that year he lost his left eye in the midst of a fight between the Spanish Surrealist painters Oscar Domínguez and Esteban Francés.
Victor Brauner met Natalia Roberti during his second trip to Italy, in 1961. The two started a short but intense relationship, and the beautiful Natalia soon became a muse for the artist during his productive stay in Rome. Brauner dedicated paintings, drawings and sketches to Natalia that year, and this work was among those he donated to her as a token of their joyful Roman affair.
3. The artist who modelled for Manet
Suzanne Valadon (1865-1938), Vase de fleurs sur une table, 1929. Oil on canvas. 24 x 19 5/8 in. (61 x 50 cm.) Estimate: £20,000-30,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art & Picasso Ceramics sale on 5 February at Christie’s London
Born in 1865, Suzanne Valadon grew up in poverty before finding work in a circus. Her trapeze career ended after a fall, and she moved to Montmartre. There she modelled for Renoir (Dance at Bougival) and Toulouse-Lautrec (The Hangover), who nicknamed her ‘Suzanne’ after the biblical story of Susanna and the Elders.
Valadon was the first female artist ever to be admitted into the prestigious Société National des Beaux-Arts and went on to have a highly successful 40-year career as a painter. She first began showing her work in the 1890s, and regularly exhibited at the prestigious Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris. Degas bought some of her works and became a close friend, teaching her different print-making techniques and introducing her to the legendary art dealers Paul Durand-Ruel and Ambroise Vollard.
The mother of artist Maurice Utrillo (accounting for the additional ‘V’ he would sign after his name), Valadon died in 1938, aged 72. Among those attending her funeral were André Derain, Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque.
4. How Picasso persuaded a young boy to eat breakfast
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Plat aux oeufs. This work is unique. White earthenware ceramic plate, partially engraved, with coloured engobe and glaze. Diameter: 11 in. (27.9 cm.) Estimate: £30,000-50,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art & Picasso Ceramics sale on 5 February at Christie’s South Kensington
Miguel Bosé is a Latin Grammy Award-winning musician. Born in Panama to an Italian actress and a Spanish bullfighter, Bosé’s family friends included Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, and Luchino Visconti.
shares his memories of ‘Pablo’ and discusses the unique Picasso ceramics in his collection Read more
When Bosé was a young child, he would not eat. ‘Because I didn’t like fried eggs [Picasso] made for me a breakfast plate with fried eggs and a fork, on top of which he would put real fried eggs and a fork,’ he explains. ‘And so when I had eaten them, the surprise of the painted ones would appear…’
Bosé recalls how Picasso allowed him and his sister, Lucia, to paint in his studio ‘and he’d change our drawings with his’. He says they shared long conversations and he was present when the artist created his ceramics. ‘To me he will always be and remain as Pablo,’ Bosé says. ‘This is how I remember him.’
5. Art as architecture
Le Corbusier (1887-1965), Les trois musiciennes, Conceived in 1958 and woven in Aubusson by Pinton Frères. Aubusson wool tapestry. 86 3/8 x 149 3/4 in. (219.3 x 380 cm.) Estimate: £20,000-30,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art & Picasso Ceramics sale on 5 February at Christie’s South Kensington
‘The destiny of the tapestry of today emerges: it becomes the mural of the modern age.’ So said Charles-Édouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier, one of the fathers of 20th-century modern architecture and urban planning, as well as being a great modern painter and sculptor.
At the end of the 1940s, Le Corbusier began collaborating with the tapestry-maker Pinton Frères to translate his drawings, going on to realise around 30 designs in this medium. He created specific designs for his tapestries, considering them to be independent from his paintings, and describing them as ‘Muralnomad’ (nomadic murals). He used them to decorate large interiors, insisting they should cover entire walls and be considered part of the architecture.
6. An optimistic evocation of the rural landscape
Antonio Donghi (1897-1963), Paesaggio Torino di Sangro, 1948. Oil on board. 15 3/4 x 19 5/8 in. (40 x 50 cm.) Estimate: £18,000-25,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art & Picasso Ceramics sale on 5 February at Christie’s South Kensington
One of the leading figures in Italy’s Neoclassical movement in the 1920s, Antonio Donghi’s later work focussed on landscape, displaying a simplicity and purity of expression that aligned it with Naïve Art.
Paesaggio Torino di Sangro was exhibited at the 1950 Venice Biennale, at the brink of a new era in which Donghi’s work would appear alongside the likes of Pierre Bonnard and Henri Matisse. Typical of his mature style, the landscape is rendered in pared-back, generalised forms but with careful, intimate detail that creates an optimistic, almost paradisal evocation of the rural landscape.
7. The dancers who seduced Rodin
Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Danseuse cambodgienne, 1906-07. Gouache, watercolour and pencil on card. 12 3/8 x 9 3/4 in. (32.2 x 24.7 cm.) Estimate: £30,000-40,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Works on Paper sale on 3 February at Christie’s London
In July 1906, in the Pré Catelan pavilion in Paris, Auguste Rodin attended a performance given by the Royal Khmer Ballet. The dancers were accompanying King Sisowath on his official visit to the Colonial Exhibition of Marseilles.
During their stay in Paris, Rodin had access to the dancers, later telling the art critic Louis Vauxcelles: ‘When they finished I was left feeling empty, in the shadow and cold. It was as if they took the beauty of the world with them.’ He would follow them to Marseilles, telling Vauxcelles that he would have happily ‘followed them to Cairo!’ In Marseilles, Rodin executed around 10 drawings that he retouched and reworked with watercolour upon returning to Paris, where he executed a further 150 drawings on the same subject.
It is extremely rare to find a drawing by Rodin published within the artist’s lifetime, and for many years experts only knew of this work via its reproduction in Otto Grautoff’s book of 1908.
8. Dalí’s Arabian nights
Salvador Dalí (1904-1989), Deux faucons et la figure d’éléphant, 1966. Gouache, watercolour and pen and India ink on paper. 15 1/8 x 11 1/4 in. (38.4 x 28.6 cm.) Estimate: £40,000-60,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Works on Paper sale on 3 February at Christie’s London
Throughout his career Salvador Dalí produced illustrations for many editions of classical literature, including Don Quixote, The Divine Comedy and Macbeth. Dalí’s 50 watercolours for One Thousand and One Nights (including Deux faucons et la figure d’éléphant, above), however, commissioned from the artist by the family of the present owner in the 1960s, remained unpublished until 2014.
The wide range of stories in One Thousand and One Nights enabled Dalí to create his own unique visualisation of mythical figures such as Pegasus and Sinbad. The range of geographical settings, meanwhile, allowed him to revisit some of his own most iconic and surreal imagery, including the elephant on stilts seen in his landmark 1944 work Dream Caused by the Flight of a Bee.
9. Maillol’s last muse
Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), Dina assise, conceived in 1937. Bronze with dark brown patina. Height: 8 3/10 in. (21.3 cm.) Estimate: £30,000-50,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale on 3 February at Christie’s London
Although Aristide Maillol followed Rodin in exploring the sculptural possibilities of the figure, he was one of the few great sculptors of the early 20th century who did not study under the older master. His nascent style of balance, harmony, and quiet restraint represented a departure from the expressive gestures, dramatic movement and textured surfaces that Rodin favoured.
‘To celebrate the human body, particularly the female body, seems to have been Maillol’s only aim,’ observed author and art critic John Rewald. Dina assise encapsulates Maillol’s celebration of the female form and depicts the artist’s last muse, Dina Vierny, who posed as his model until his death in 1944.
10. Surrealist chess
Man Ray (1890-1976), Chess set. Incised with the signature and dated ‘Man Ray 1946’. The board: 17 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. (44.4 x 44.4 cm.) Executed in 1946, this work is number 3 from a small limited edition. Estimate: £20,000-30,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale on 3 February at Christie’s London
Chess became a passion and a ritual for Man Ray after his rooftop encounter with chess fanatic Marcel Duchamp in New York in 1924. The pair, who were great friends, would often play throughout the night, believing that games allowed them to explore the repressed desires of the unconscious.
Man Ray designed his first chess set in 1920, with found objects from his studio. The various series which followed were predominantly made with simple geometric shapes: the king was a pyramid, the queen a cone, the rook a cube, the pawn a sphere and the knight an old violin head. From 1945, he issued a limited number of signed sets in wood and in aluminium.
Man Ray perceived the chessboard as a surrealist object, arguing that ‘games give form to a liberation, allowing one to give free rein to the imagination and carelessly mingle between reality and fantasy.’
11. The essence of mother and child
Charles Angrand (1854-1926), Maternité, 1896-1900. Conté crayon on paper. 23 3/4 x 18 in. (60.3 x 45.6 cm.) Estimate: £12,000-18,000. This work is offered in the Impressionist & Modern Art Works on Paper sale on 3 February at Christie’s London
Charles Angrand treated the subject of the mother and child on a number of occasions, concentrating on its essence and eliminating all superfluous detail. He defined the forms through a nuanced gradation from deep black areas to extremely bright ones using just the white of the paper and avoiding any lines, employing the same technique as Seurat, who was a close friend.
Paul Signac, who helped to develop Pointillism with Seurat, described Angrand’s conté crayon drawings as ‘masterpieces’, adding, ‘It would be impossible to imagine a better use of white and black... These are the most beautiful drawings, poems of light, of fine composition and execution.’ Angrand used relatives as models, such as his sister-in-law, the wife of his younger brother, with their child Antoine.
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