Christie’s to Sell Four Centuries of Swiss Art History

. August 18, 2009

Christie’s has announced the forthcoming Swiss Art sale is to be held on 21 September 2009. The auction comprises 153 lots spanning over four centuries of Swiss Art History. The evening sale offers numerous highlights by notable Swiss artists, including, amongst others, Johann Heinrich Füssli, Ferdinand Hodler, Giovanni Giacometti, Félix Vallotton, Hans Hinterreiter and Hans Erni.

Ferdinand Hodler
Ferdinand Hodler, Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau von Beatenberg aus, 1910. Oil on canvas. Estimate: CHF 4,000,000 – 6,000,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd. 2009

The evening auction is lead by Ferdinand Hodler’s masterpiece Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau von Beatenberg aus (estimate CHF 4 to 6 million). The painting is one of an important series of five Alpine landscapes, which capture the majestic trinity of the mountains Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau and which were all executed in 1910 viewed from Beatenberg. The sale also comprises further important works by Hodler, such as Femme Joyeuse, (1909) and Selbstbildnis, (1912). Lot 100, Femme Joyeuse, has an estimate of CHF 3 to 5 million. The present painting, as well as the additional four existing versions, portrays Valentine Godé-Darel, Hodler’s lover and the mother of their daughter Paulette. After the painting had been completed it was bought directly from the artist by Margrit Kottmann-Müller (sister of Hodler’s important patron and art collector Josef Müller). Twenty years later, in 1929, she also bought Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau von Beatenberg aus and in 1938 both paintings found their way into a further private collection. They have been in possession of the same family since.

A further highlight of the evening is Giovanni Giacometti’s Mattino d’inverno (Wintermorgen), which was executed in 1914 and which was first believed to be lost. As Bruno Giacometti, Giovanni Giacometti’s youngest son tells us, this painting depicts the view from the artists’ house in Stampa looking upon the Piz Duan on a winter morning. The artist’s personal inventory states that the picture had been sold in 1918 for CHF 800 in the Geneva gallery Moos. Its further whereabouts were at first unknown, but today it had been established that the painting was brought into the family of its current owners as a wedding gift in 1924. The painting has an estimate of CHF 700.000 to 900.000.

The artist Félix Vallotton is represented within the sale with interesting works. A complete series of six woodcuts shows views of the world exhibition in Paris, which was launched in the April of 1900. The prints illustrate very specific attractions of the exhibition, for instance a moving footway, the display window of René Lalique, as well as fireworks. They have a total estimate of CHF 18.000 to 25.000.

Further highlights are three paintings by Johann Heinrich Füssli – Fairy Mab (1793) and Schweigen (1796 – 99) are both part of a group of 47 paintings illustrating John Milton’s epic poem „Paradise lost.“ Fairy Mab represents the fairy queen Mab, who according to the tale eats the supplies of farmers at nights and in particular her favourite dish junkets (a sweet curd dish). The painting has an estimate of CHF 200.000 to 300.000. Furthermore Füssli’s Die Vision des Dichters, which was painted between 1806 and 1807 will be offered, with an estimate of CHF 120.000 to 180.000. Floating above the poet, who is asleep on the sofa, the muse of poetry crowns him with a laurel wreath.

A further interesting lot of the evening is Hans Hinterreiter’s Werk ohne Titel (Estimate CHF 40.000 to 60.000), which he executed in 1941. The painting is part of an important group of works, containing ten pieces, which Hinterreiter painted between 1937 and 1942 for the exhibitions of the Swiss artists group ALLIANZ. Six of these paintings were shown in the exhibition in the Kunsthaus Zürich from May to June 1942. The present work is inset into a light coloured frame, which the artist Max Bill has created for his friend.

This year Hans Erni, one of Switzerland’s most renowned artists, celebrates his 100th birthday. In honour of this the Kunstmuseum Luzern stages the exhibition „Hans Erni – Retrospektive zum 100. Geburtstag.“ 15 lots of the artist’s early work will be on offer at the auction. The proceeds of these sales will go to a non-profit foundation for the support of the cultural life in Luzern. Inspired by French and Greek culture, Erni signed his early work with „François Grèques“. Between 1930 and 1933 he spent considerable amounts of time in Paris and under Picasso’s and Braque’s influence he began to adopt an abstract manner of painting.

Category: Auction News

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