RELEASE: CHRISTIE’S NOVEMBER 5 EVENING SALE IN NEW YORK PRESENTS MASTERWORKS OF THE IMPRESSIONIST & MODERN MOVEMENTS

Worldwide

New York – Christie’s is pleased to announce the full roster of highlights from its upcoming Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art at Rockefeller Center on November 5.  Led by two pivotal works of the Impressionist and Modern movements –  Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps (estimate: $25-35 million) and Fernand Léger’s Les constructeurs avec arbre ($16-22 million) – the sale’s forty offerings reflect current collector demand for works of great rarity, strong provenance, and exceptional museum exhibition history.  90% of the works featured in the sale come fresh to the market, having remained in private collections for a decade or more, while nearly 80% of the works have been featured in a museum exhibition.

 “We have assembled a sale tailored to the refined tastes of our global collecting community, keeping exceptional quality and rarity as our guiding principles. The resulting sale is an exciting, sweeping representation of the Impressionist and Modern eras in European Art, embracing multiple mediums and movements and tracing the evolution of art from Impressionism through to Cubism, and on to Surrealism in each of the media instructive to these genres. Matisse’s Nu assis, fond bleu and a suite of cubist works by Picasso, Braque, Gris and Severini, are particularly thrilling to offer alongside the openings of the Henri Matisse: The Cut-Outs and Cubism: The Leonard A. Lauder Collection exhibitions at MoMA and The Met.” noted Brooke Lampley, Head of Department, Impressionist & Modern Art.

Impressionist Highlights:

Surrealist Highlights

Cubist Highlights:

Modern Highlights:

 

FERNAND LÉGER, LES CONSTRUCTEURS AVEC ARBRE, 1949-1950 

Fernand Léger’s Les constructeurs avec arbre, (estimate: $16-22 million) – pictured on page 1, center, is an important example from the artist’s rarely offered and highly coveted Constructors series. Known as the “painter of the machine age”, Léger was captivated by themes of construction and engineering, using them in his work as a symbol of man’s creative power in an industrialized modern world. In the years 1949-1950, he painted Les constructeurs avec arbre, using it as the model for the what would become the final acclaimed painting in this series, Les constructeurs à l’aloès.

  • The Constructor series is Léger's homage to the salt-of-the-earth working man, both as a class within French society and in the industrialized world generally, and as a more universal symbol of homo faber — man the maker and builder.
  • The emphasis that Léger devoted to the configuration of the four workmen in this study resulted in this picture becoming the most strongly characterized of the large compositions in this series.
  • At the upper left, one of the four construction workers perched on the girders of this building-in-progress is applying his muscular physique to the job. Two other men exchange greetings, and the fourth, perhaps a member of the architectural team that designed this structure, gazes dreamily away from the scene. This figure is thought to be Léger’s portrayal of himself as a young man.

EDOUARD MANET’S, LE PRINTEMPS, 1881 

Currently on an international tour to Asia and Europe, the top lot of the Evening Sale is Edouard Manet’s masterpiece portrait, Le Printemps (estimate: $25-35 million) – pictured on page 1, right. Encapsulating all the major themes of the early modern period, from nature and femininity to society and fashion, Springtime is one of Manet’s best known and most widely reproduced works, and perfectly exemplifies the revolutionary style that Manet embraced.

  • The portrait depicts the actress Jeanne Demarsy, cast as an allegory of spring. She also appears in the background of Manet’s iconic scene Un bar aux Folies-Bergere. Both paintings were exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1882, and together they sealed Manet’s fame as a titan of modern-era painting.
  • This masterwork comes completely fresh to the market, having remained in the same collection for over a century and been on loan for the last two decades at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.    Of the 30 paintings that Manet exhibited at the Salon over the course of his lifetime, this is the last remaining in private hands.
  • Proceeds from its sale will benefit a private American foundation supporting environmental, public health and other charitable causes.
  • Click here to view Adrien Meyer, International Director of Impressionist & Modern Art, discuss Edouard Manet’s Le Printemps. 
  • Click here to view the complete press release.

RENÉ MAGRITTE, Master of Surrealism 

In keeping with growing demand for Surrealist works, particularly by René Magritte, Christie’s is pleased to present three important works by the Belgian master, each representing a distinct period and theme in the artist’s career.

Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam, oil on canvas, 1942, $5-7million – pictured right 

  • Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam belonged to Gustave Nellens, owner of the seaside Casino Communal at Knokke-Le-Zoute in Belgium, who commissioned Magritte in 1953 to design the  panoramic mural Le domaine enchanté.
  • Monumental in size, Mesdemoiselles de l’Isle Adam, encompasses two of the artist’s signature elements, the nude female, and a blue sky, which Magritte fashions as both the background and the foreground with his dexterous use of cut-outs.

L’ombre celesteoil on canvas, 1927, $2-3million – pictured right 

  • Magritte painted L’ombre céleste in 1927, in the first of three years that he spent in Paris. Magritte’s time in Paris has been described as the most creative period in his career.
  • This work was included in MoMA’s controversial and groundbreaking exhibition, Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealismfrom December 1936-January 1937.
  • L’ombre celeste was acquired by Beth Straus in the early 1960’s from the New Art Center in New York, with whom it remained until 1976, when the present owner received it by descent.

La vie privée, oil on canvas, painted in April 1946, $1-1.5million 

  • The artist explained the title, La vie privée, saying “Every person has a private life which, on further acquaintance, can be perceived as through a window”.

CUBISME: Property from The Melamed Family Collection

A cornerstone of the Evening Sale is the Melamed Collection, one of the foremost American collections of Cubist Art. Started in 1944, the collection features works by the greatest masters of the movement, including Picasso, Braque, Léger, Gris, Villon, Marcoussis, Gleizes, and Metzinger, among others. Over 50 works from the Collection will be featured in Christie’s November sales, including three important selections for the Evening Sale:

  • Picasso’s Figure (estimate: $1.5-2.5million) – pictured rightPicasso’s Tête de femme (estimate: estimate: $1-1.5million), and Severini’s Etude pour Autoportrait au canotier (estimate: $1-1.5million), all of which have been featured in major museum exhibitions, in keeping with the Melamed’s commitment to sharing their collection with the general public.
  • The importance of the Melamed collection was underscored by the curators of a 1982 exhibition for the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. entitled, “The Cubist Print”. After exploring all the leading museums collections, the curators wrote that “...it soon became clear that the largest, most comprehensive collection of Cubist Prints was not in the public domain, but in the knowledgeable private hands of Dr. and Mrs. Abraham Melamed.”

EGON SCHIELE – A Rare Landscape

Egon Schiele’s Stadt am blauen Fluss (Krumau)was executed in the summer of 1910, at a critical turning point in the artist’s career (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000) - pictured right.  Schiele traded the claustrophobic confines of Vienna for the summer in favor of the Bohemian landscape, seeking to pare down his style of landscape painting to its most essential elements, just as he had with figure painting previously.  The metamorphosis can be seen in 10 landscape paintings from that summer though the present landscape is one of only three outdoor subjects executed that year in non-opaque watercolor.

  • Schiele visualized the scene from a bluff overlooking the Moldau River, gazing toward a bend in the river on the eastern outskirts of the medieval Bohemian town of Krumau.
  • In contrast to the technique of post-Impressionist brushwork, Schiele allowed his fluid colors loose rein, contained within a framework of quickly drawn lines; the composition of Stadt am blauen Fluss is a startling demonstration of distance and space, stacked vertically in the flat modernist manner.
  • This rare landscape represents one of the most stunning stylistic transformations to have been achieved in 20thcentury painting.   Stadt am blauen Fluss is being offered for sale pursuant to the successful resolution of a restitution settlement agreement between the consignor and the Grünbaum Heirs, which allows for clear title to the work.

NOTE TO EDITORS

The record for a work by Édouard Manet at auction was set by Portrait de Manet par lui-même, en buste (Manet à la palette), which sold for 22,441,250 GBP ($33,279,822 USD) in June 2010.

SALE STATISTICS

The Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on November 5 will be comprised of 40 works total, primarily offered from individual private collectors who recognize the strength of the current market for conservatively estimated works of exceptional quality and rarity. Overall, 46% of the lots featured in the sale have never been offered at auction before.

The Market

The global market for new bidders in the category of Impressionist and Modern Art at Christie’s is growing globally, expanding the geographic footprint of countries that are represented in each sale.  In New York, during the first half of 2014, bidders from 36 different countries participated in the Evening and Day sales in this category.  But while international growth is expanding the footprint, new competition from domestic bidders adds an exciting dynamic. North and South American collectors together represent the strongest influx of new bidders over the last three seasons, with Asia and Europe (including Russia and the Middle East) contributing an equal portion of new bidders (see above).

 

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