London – Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale will take place on 18 June 2019, part of ‘20th Century at Christie’s’, a series of auctions taking place from 17 to 26 June 2019. Fernand Léger’s Femme dans un fauteuil (1913, estimate on request, illustrated above) and Picasso’s Homme et femme (1968, estimate: £10,000,000-15,000,000, illustrated page two) will lead the auction, both offering radical visions of the female form as the artists pushed the boundaries of representation during the 20th century. The Landscape of a Mind: A Private Collector’s Surreal Vision, a group of 13 Dada and Surrealist works, will include paintings by Yves Tanguy and René Magritte as well as a major drawing by Salvador Dalí.
Henri Matisse’s Le collier d’ambre (1937, estimate: £5,000,000-8,000,000, illustrated page three) is a further highlight. An odalisque painting, it is amongst the most rigorously designed and strikingly orchestrated compositions Matisse painted after the First World War. Henri Laurens’s Homme à la pipe (1919, estimate: £700,000-1,000,000, illustrated page three, bottom right) and Otto Dix’s Soldat mit Tabakspfeife (1918, estimate: £500,000-800,000, illustrated page three, bottom left) are both presented to the market for the first time since the early 1960s when they were separately acquired for private collections. The sale consists of 34 works, many of which have been in revered private collections for many years and are being offered at auction for the first time. All works will be exhibited in the King Street galleries, London, from 13 to 18 June 2019.
Léger / Picasso: Icons of the 20th Century – Two Major Works from a Distinguished Private Collection
Fernand Léger’s Femme dans un fauteuil belongs to a ground-breaking series of paintings and drawings which, along with the radical abstractions of Kandinsky, Kupka and Malevich, fundamentally altered the course of art. Known as the Contrastes des formes, this group, created between 1912 and 1914, saw Léger reach a new and unprecedented form of abstraction. Femme dans un fauteuil is one of a small group of five figurative works from 1913 that depicts a seated female figure, three of which are now housed in museums – the Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, Fondation Beyeler, Basel and Sprengel Museum, Hannover – with the location of the remaining work unknown.
Painted over the course of a single day, Pablo Picasso’s monumental composition Homme et femme fizzes with erotic tension, the bodies of its two amorous protagonists intertwining and overlapping as they lie together in an intimate moment of sensual pleasure. With her dark hair and Grecian profile, the female nude seems to be an homage to the artist’s wife Jacqueline. Her partner appears to be a surrogate for the artist himself, an extension of the swashbuckling mosquetero character that had first emerged in Picasso’s work during the final months of 1966, drawing inspiration from numerous art historical precedents, most notably the paintings of Rembrandt and Velázquez.
The Landscape of a Mind: A Private Collector’s Surreal Vision
Over a series of sales, including the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on 18 June, and a dedicated sale of Design, Photography, Indian Miniatures, Post-War and Contemporary Art and further Impressionist and Modern Art on 20 June, more than 100 works from this eclectic collection will be presented. A dedicated interior will be created for the group in the St James’s galleries at King Street from 13 to 20 June 2019.
Yves Tanguy’s L’Extinction des especes II (1938, estimate: £2,500,000-4,000,000, illustrated page two, left) will be offered at auction for the first time alongside René Magritte’s Le parc du vautour (1926, estimate: £2,500,000-4,000,000, illustrated page two, right), an unusually large surrealist landscape that featured in Magritte’s first solo exhibition in 1927, a seminal show which launched his career as a Surrealist. Salvador Dalí’s Figure aux tiroirs (1937, estimate: £600,000-900,000) has been included in major exhibitions at MoMA, New York, the Centre Pompidou, Paris, Tate, London and the Reina Sofía, Madrid, and ranks amongst the best from that period of the artist’s oeuvre.
The young model in Henri Matisse’s Le collier d’ambre is clad in a Persian kaftan, blouse and sash, garments that Matisse pulled from his trove of costumes and textiles, mostly acquired in the markets of Nice. This painting of 1937 differs, however, from many odalisque paintings he created the previous decade. Foregoing the dreamy, sensuous fantasy of those earlier odalisque paintings, and drawing upon his vibrant Fauve palette, the artist’s characterisation of his model here with simplified planes of colour, is casually modern, as she gazes amiably at the viewer.
One of the pioneers of cubist sculpture, Henri Laurens’s Homme à la pipe is among the finest of the artist’s work in stone. Encouraged to adopt a cubist idiom in his sculpture by his friend Georges Braque in around 1911, Laurens created a number of polychrome paper and cardboard constructions and assemblages, before taking up stone and terracotta as his mediums in 1917. It was acquired in 1961, and has remained in the same collection since. Otto Dix’s exquisite work on paper, Soldat mit Tabakspfeife, dates from 1919 - the year the artist founded the Dresden Secession Group - and has remained in the same collection since the 1960s. Both works are offered to auction for the first time.
Christie’s, the world's leading art business, had auction sales in 2019 that totalled £4.5 billion / $5.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie's also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.
Alongside regular sales online, Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.
*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.
*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.