Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information
Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s to Auction Painting by Camille Pissarro

Christie’s announced Le Quai Malaquais et l’Institut, 1903 by Camille Pissarro (estimate: $1.5-2.5 million), an important work that has been restituted to a member of the Fischer estate after its confiscation over 70 years ago, will be offered for sale this November.

Camille Pissarro
Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Le Quai Malaquais et l’Institut, signed and dated ‘C. Pissarro. 1903’ (lower right), oil on canvas, 21 3/8 x 25 5/8 in. (54.4 x 65 cm.) Painted in 1903. Estimate: $1,500,000 – 2,500,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2009

The painting was to have been featured at Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale in London on June 23, 2009, but was withdrawn at the request of the heirs of the Fischer estate. Christie’s is now in a position to present this exceptional painting as a highlight of its November 3 Evening Sale in New York.

Gisela Bermann Fischer, daughter of Gottfried Bermann Fischer and the last surviving granddaughter of Samuel Fischer, founder of the legendary German publishing house S. Fischer Verlag, searched for over 12 years for this lost Pissarro painting. The search concluded in the summer of 2008 when Le Quai Malaquais et l’Institut was located in a bank vault in Zurich. After a long process, it was restituted to Ms. Fischer as one of the heirs to the Fischer estate. The painting is now being offered for sale by Gisela Bermann Fischer and Itai Shoffman, great grandson of Samuel Fischer.

Samuel Fischer had initially purchased the painting from the art dealer Paul Cassirer in 1907. The last time the then-nine year old Gisela Bermann Fischer had seen the painting was in March 1938, in her parents’ house, located at Wattmanngasse 11 in Vienna. The night before Austria’s Anschluss, the family fled their residence in Vienna, leaving behind an important art collection that included the Pissarro painting. The collection was confiscated by the National Socialists and Le Quai Malaquais was sold at the Dorotheum in Vienna in 1940. As a result of its having been hidden in a bank vault for over half a century, the painting remains in excellent condition to this day.

Painted in 1903, Le Quai Malaquais et l’Institut is part of Camille Pissarro’s (1830-1903) fourth and final series of views of Paris. It was only ten years earlier, in 1893, that he had first tackled the subject of Paris, the bustling cosmopolitan hub of so much life in France. Once he started, Pissarro returned several times, renting a different apartment each time for the specific view and outlook it provided of the city. From April to May 1903, Pissarro painted from Room 32 on the third floor of the Hotel du Quai Voltaire, at 19 quai Voltaire in the 7th arrondissement. The view that the room afforded, looking both up and down the Seine, yielded a superb series of works depicting the Pont- Royal, the Louvre, and the Quai Malaquais. This would remain the artist’s only series painted from the Left Bank of the river Seine.

Inspired by the emerging spring season in April and May, these works are filled with a sense of hope, of renewal, of new leaves and new life, as is clearly the case in Le Quai Malaquais et l’Institut, where the trees are draped in budding foliage thin enough that the Pont du Carrousel and even the Pont des Arts are visible spanning the river in the background. To the right of Le Quai Malaquais is the street itself, with carriages and pedestrians giving a sense of urban activity. The lush paint surface lends great detail and movement to the clouds, and is thrust into greater relief by the contrast with other areas of the picture where the artist has deliberately left the primed canvas in reserve, introducing a fantastic play of textures.

Le Quai Malaquais et l’Institut will be on view October 30 through November 3 at Christie’s Rockefeller Center Galleries as part of the overall preview exhibition for the Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art.