New York


Nu couché, 1917-18





New York/London – Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, is pleased to announce it will offer Amedeo Modigliani’s  masterpiece Nu couché (Reclining Nude) on Monday, November 9 in New York. The painting, executed in 1917-18, will be the centerpiece of a special curated Evening Sale of 20th Century art focused on the theme of “The Artist’s Muse”.


The painting is one of a series of great female nudes made for Léopold Zborowski that famously caused a scandal nearly a century ago when they were exhibited at Modigliani’s first and only one-man show at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris.  Outraged by the content of this show — which caused a crowd to form outside the gallery window where one of Modigliani’s nudes was openly on display — the police demanded the immediate closure of the exhibition.


The upcoming sale this November marks the first time this portrait is appearing at auction. Estimated to exceed $100 million, the portrait is poised to break the standing world auction record of $70.7 million for any work by Modigliani, one of the greatest artists of the 20th century.

Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President and Chief Auctioneer comments, “This is quite simply one of the most important paintings I have handled in my long career at Christie’s. There are a very small number of masterpieces that we dream of handling: this magnificent Modigliani has always been one of them. This powerful and noble female nude is a work of timeless beauty and one of the greatest works by the artist. It is a particular honour to be entrusted with the sale of this painting as my own area of expertise has always been the early 20th Century avant-garde, the paintings that shook the foundations of convention.”  Mariolina Bassetti, Christie’s Chairman and International Director, Italy, added, “This is the painting that defines Modigliani”.

Originally in the collection of Modigliani’s mentor, friend, and dealer, Léopold Zborowski, Nu couché (Reclining Nude) has been so widely and frequently published and referred to over the past century that it has become one of the most recognized images of early 20th century painting and certainly represents one of Modigliani’s best known works. It was also previously in the celebrated collection of the late Gianni Mattioli, one of the greatest champions of Italian early 20th Century Modernism, who organized a global tour of his superb Italian Art collection in the 1960s. In the 1950s, this work toured to the Museum of Modern Art in New York where it took pride of place on the cover of the exhibition catalogue.

The painting has also been featured in major museum shows across the globe, including the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Palazzo Reale in Milan.


Christie’s New York – 20th Century Art Week

After the resounding success of Christie’s innovative, cross-category approach to its major May sales series, which generated $1.7 billion in total sales, Christie’s is pleased to announce that once again all the major works from its Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary sales will be exhibited in New York at the same time and sold in one week. Christie’s will host three Evening Sales and two Day sales that week, beginning with The Artist’s Muse on Monday (see complete sale calendar in editor’s notes below).

“Our May 20th Century art series saw a record number of visitors attend our curated viewings at Rockefeller Center, leading to an unprecedented number of bidders in the salerooms,” noted Mr.  Pylkkänen. “Feedback from our clients shows a huge appetite for cross-category collecting between Impressionist and Post-War art – two categories traditionally kept separate from one another.  Our calendar change reflects this change in collecting taste. I look forward to witnessing the same wonderful atmosphere in the New York salerooms this coming season as once again we work to curate sales that capture the imagination of the world’s leading art collectors.”


Notes to Editors:

Christie’s is the current market leader in global sales of Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art. At the close of 1H2015, total sales in the Impressionist and Modern Art category were £771.6 million, up 42% (US$1.2 Billion); total sales of Post-War and Contemporary Art were £927.7 million, up 16% ($1.4 Billion).


At its inaugural combined sale week of Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art in May in New York, Christie’s achieved a record-setting $1.7 billion in total art sales, and set new auction records for any work of art sold at auction (Pablo Picasso’s 1955 masterpiece Les femmes d’Alger, Version O which sold for $179.4 million) and a new record for any sculpture sold at auction (Alberto Giacometti’s Pointing Man, which sold for $141.3 million).



The Artist’s Muse: A Curated Evening Sale of 20th Century Art - Monday November 9
Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale - Tuesday November 10
Post-War and Contemporary Art Day Sales, I and II - Wednesday November 11
Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, 6pm EDT - Thursday November 12
Impressionist and Modern Day and Works on Paper Sales  - Friday November 13

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Christie’s auctions span more than 80 art and luxury categories, at price points ranging from $200 to over $100 million. In recent years, Christie’s has achieved the world record price for an artwork at auction (Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvador Mundi, 2017), for a single collection sale (the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller, 2018), and for a work by a living artist (Jeff Koons’ Rabbit, 2019).

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