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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Sotheby’s to Auction the Pierre Leroy Collection of Modern & Contemporary Art

Sotheby’s Paris will offer Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary works from the collection of Pierre Leroy, Co-Managing Partner of Groupe Lagardère. Pierre Leroy’s collection of books and manuscripts is already world renowned; now his modern art collection will be unveiled for the first time, in Paris on December 8/9.

Andy Warhol,Andy Warhol is the foremost figure in Pierre Leroy’s collection of contemporary art, which boasts two works by the Pope of Pop Art – both portraits, but of very different artists: Roy Lichtenstein, the other big name of Pop Art, painted on a tiny canvas in 1967; and Jamie Wyeth, captured ten years later in the manner of Warhol’s spectacular Society Portraits recently displayed at the Grand Palais in Paris.

In early 1967, to mark the tenth anniversary of the Leo Castelli Gallery, Andy Warhol made twelve portraits of the artists represented by the gallery: Lee Bontecou, John Chamberlain, Jasper Johns, Donald Judd, Robert Morris, Larry Poons, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Frank Stella, Cy Twombly, Roy Lichtenstein and Warhol himself. Only a handful of copies of each portrait were produced, and few are known to have survived. Their modest dimensions give them an engaging, family character, in keeping with their subject-matter: “family portraits” of Leo Castelli’s gallery artists. Warhol’s vibrant homage to Roy Lichtenstein (est. €30,000–40,000) evokes his early Red Elvis of 1962, also in red and black.

The strikingly handsome Jamie Wyeth was a young painter who embodied the “spirit of America,” much like his father and grandfather before him. It was an inspired move by Warhol to portray the youthful Wyeth in the style of a period celebrity, like his portraits of Mick Jagger and U.S. President Jimmy Carter, done the same year. The model’s elegant pose, with his chin resting on his hand like Rodin’s Thinker, and the gentle, slightly absent look in his eyes, make Portrait of Jamie Wyeth (est. €100,000–120,000) a magnificent Warholian hymn to Melancholy. The two artists, in fact, painted one another; their Portraits of Each Other were shown at New York’s Coe Kerr Gallery in 1976.

The sale includes a superb collage by Nicolas de Staël (est. €35,000–45,000), recalling his famous Portrait of Anne in Comar’s Musée Unterlinden; one of Niki de Saint-Phalle’s first Tir (shooting) paintings, formerly owned by artist Jean-Pierre Raynaud (est. €35,000–45,000); and a monumental work by Jacques Monory (est. €25,000–35,000).

Pierre Leroy acquired Dora Maar’s Portrait of Picasso during the famous Dora Maar sale in Paris in 1998, when it was reproduced on the cover of one of the catalogues. This powerful work (est. €120,000–180,000), evoking one of the most super-charged artistic relationships of the 20th century, dates from 1936 – the year of the decisive encounter between Picasso and the future muse of his ‘Weeping Woman’ series. This is unquestionably Dora Maar’s finest-ever painting, portraying Picasso as a Mayan-like divinity with a smile on his lips that is both tranquil and voracious. His placid yet relentless gaze – fixed on both the artist and the viewer – is typical of the “look” we find in photographic portraits of the time, a field in which Dora Maar had already made her name.

Dora Maar would never recover from her relationship with Picasso, reliving the tragic destiny of another famous artist consumed by the love of a genius: Camille Claudel. The Pierre Leroy Collection contains a superb casting of one of Claudel’s most moving sculptures – Le Dieu Envolé (est. €80,000–120,000).

Friday 4 December, 12 noon–6pm
Saturday 5 December, 10am–6pm
Monday 7 December, 10am–6pm
Tuesday 8 December, 10am–2pm

Image: Andy Warhol, Portrait of James Wyeth , 1976. Signed, dated and titled on the reverse. Acrylic and silkscreen on canvas, 101.5 x 101.5 cm. Estimate: 100 000 – 150 000 €. Photo: Sotheby’s.