Christie’s Announces March 10 Impressionist and Modern Art Sale

Christie’s New York sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on March 10 presents an exciting opportunity for collectors to purchase superb works by the great masters Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Tamara de Lempicka, and Henry Moore and to explore a wealth of drawings, sculpture and works on paper by lesser-known artists of the Impressionist and Modern periods. Prices begin at $1,200 and range up to $80,000. With over 160 works, the sale is expected to realize in excess of $1.5 million.

Among the highlights of the sale is a selection of works by the Art Deco portrait artist Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980), whose Portrait de Madame M sold for a record $6.1 million at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale last spring. The upcoming sale includes two mid-career paintings from a private French collection – the meticulously composed Nature morte à la plante grasse, from circa 1952 (estimate: $40,000-60,000), and the exceptional portrait Jeune homme au livre, painted circa 1954 (estimate: $25,000-35,000). Also featured is a work from a private American collection, Un coq, une poule et ses poussins (estimate: $3,000-5,000), and two figure studies in charcoal, Un nu de femme assise sur une chaise (estimate: $2,000-3,000) and Un nu de femme de dos (estimate: $2,000-3,000).

Last fall, Christie’s achieved exceptional results for a select group of works on paper consigned from the Estate of Pierre-Noël Matisse, grandson of Henri Matisse (1869-1954). The upcoming sale features additional selections from this prominent estate, including Matisse’s Fille avec chaine et croix, a signed pen and ink drawing (estimate: $18,000-25,000), Nu, a pencil sketch on paper (estimate: $12,000-16,000) and Branche, a floral study in black conté crayon (estimate: $8,000-12,000). A delicately shaded pencil-and-charcoal sketch, Reclining Nude, 1973, by the modern sculptor Reg Butler (1913-1981) is an additional highlight of the group (estimate: $3,000-5,000).

Picasso’s towering artistic influence is evident in a group of exceptional Cubist compositions by several of his contemporaries and followers, including Deux guitares (Composition cubiste), a signed oil on board by Ismael Gonzalez de la Serna (estimate: $15,000-20,000), and Le Gitan by Bela de Kristo (estimate: $6,000-8,000). Also featured is a strong selection of Surrealist works, including Samuel Bak’s Blue Morning (estimate: $7,000-10,000) and Rudolf Schlichter’s haunting Jüngling im Geflecht, 1954 (estimate: $12,000-16,000).

Though perhaps best-known as Picasso’s muse in the post-war period from 1946 to 1953, Francoise Gilot remains a sought-after artist of the Impressionist and Modern genre. Two paintings by Gilot, The Idol, The Child and Tulips, 1991, (estimate: $8,000-12,000) and Autoportrait avec collier blue, 1945 (estimate: $4,000-6,000) are included in the sale, as well as a unique collaboration by Gilot and Picasso entitled Owl necklace, 1948 (estimate: $10,000-15,000). This unusual necklace was among the items featured in the 2007-8 traveling exhibition Surreal Things at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum and Bilbao’s Guggenheim Museum.

Additional highlights include the sale’s cover lot, La salle à manger à Saint-Tropez, fenêtre ouverte, no. 3 (estimate: $60,000-80,000), a vibrant interior view by Charles Camoin (1879-1965), Bouquet de roses (estimate: $20,000-30,000), a lush still life by Louis Valtat (1869-1952), and La Croisette (estimate: $45,000-65,000) and Femme au chapeau (pictured page one center; estimate: $40,000-60,000) two superb figurative works by Jean-Pierre Cassigneul.

Among the sale’s sculpture highlights is an exceptional bronze by Georg Kolbe (1877-1947), one of the most successful German sculptors of the early 20th century. Bewegungsskizze (Motion Sketch), was conceived in 1925 and cast by 1939 (estimate: $20,000-30,000). Never before offered at auction, the cast has remained in the same private American collection since its acquisition in the 1930’s. Also featured is Square Head by Henry Moore (estimate: $12,000-16,000), an abstract bronze consigned from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden to benefit its acquisition program. Cast circa 1960-61, the foot-tall bronze with golden brown patina was acquired by Joseph H. Hirshhorn in 1961, and gifted to the museum in 1966.

Image: Tamara de Lempicka (1898-1980), “Nature morte à la plante grasse”. Oil on canvas board, 9 3/8 x 7 in. (23.8 x 17.9 cm.). Painted circa 1952. Estimate: $40,000-60,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd., 2010

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