Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Sale Achieves $147 million

. November 8, 2008

NEW YORK – In its second Evening Sale of the week, Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale, achieved $147 million for paintings and sculpture with top lots from Juan Gris, Pablo Picasso, and Wassily Kandinsky commanding the highest prices. The sale follows Wednesday’s Evening Sale of two single-owner collections, The Modern Age: The Hillman Family Collection and The Collection of Alice Lawrence. New world auction records were set for Cubist master Juan Gris, American artist Alice Neel, and for works on paper by Georges Seurat and René Magritte. The two Evening Sales at Christie’s New York this week achieved a combined total of $194 million.

Marc Porter, President of Christie’s Americas, states: “This week’s sales witnessed the reassertion of the private collector with strong prices achieved for the most desirable works by artists such as Picasso, Gris and Kandinsky. The past week has validated our belief that works of art are stable stores of value, and collectors and connoisseurs will not miss the opportunity to acquire the best of the best.”

Juan Gris’s Livre, pipe et verre of 1915 drew the highest price of the evening, selling at $20.8 million, and established a new auction record for the artist. A striking still life painted in his own distinctive brand of Cubism, Gris used stark contrast and white highlighting to create an effect similar to a photographic negative. In its first appearance at auction, Picasso’s outstanding Deux personnages (Marie-Thérèse et sa soeur lisant) of 1934 drew $18 million. This important painting is Picasso’s culminating work in a series of six paintings portraying his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter, and her sister together enjoying a book in front of an open window. A second Picasso, Mousquetaire et femme à la fleur, of 1967 witnessed a lively round of bidding, ultimately selling for $9 million.

In keeping with recent strong sales for Alberto Giacometti’s sculptures – including a world auction record set in May at Christie’s for Grande femme debout II – a bronze entitled Trois Hommes qui marchent I, sold for $11.5 million.

Other highlights of Thursday’s Evening Sale were Gustave Caillebotte’s Le pont d’Argenteuil et la Seine of 1883 ($8.5 million); Paul Cézanne’s Le pont et le barrage à Pontoise of 1881, a beautiful landscape that hallmarks Cézanne’s mature work ($7.9 million); and Henry Moore’s Arch Form of 1970, a black serpentine marble ($5 million).

Highlights from The Modern Age: The Hillman Family Collection and The Collection of Alice Lawrence

On Wednesday evening, Giorgio de Chirico’s masterful Composition Métaphysique of 1914 commanded the highest price at $6.1 million. An excellent example of de Chirico’s signature style, the painting was a highlight of the Hillman Family Collection. Another notable work sold was Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s Portrait de Henri Nocq, which sold for $4.45 million. Painted in 1897 in the artist’s studio, Portrait de Henri Nocq is the last of an important series of standing male portraits made over the course of Toulouse-Lautrec’s career.

At $3.55 million, René Magritte’s L’Empire des lumières of 1947 set a new world record for a work on paper by the artist. The mysteriously lit nocturnal street scene is from a series that has been highly coveted by collectors for over sixty years, the first of its kind being famously acquired by Nelson Rockefeller in January of 1950.

Category: Auction News

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