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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Sotheby’s New York Impressionist and Modern Art Auction

Sotheby’s spring Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in New York on 5 May 2010 presents a superb offering of works by a range of artists including Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Feininger, and Modigliani. Many come from esteemed private collections and estates and are fresh to the market. Prior to the auction, works from both the Evening and Day Sales will be exhibited at Sotheby’s New York galleries beginning 30 April 2010. Highlights will also be exhibited at Sotheby’s London 15-16 and 19-20 April.

Modern Women
Representations of female beauty feature prominently among the sale highlights. Pablo Picasso’s Femme au Grand Chapeau, Buste, 1965, (est. $8/12 million)* is inspired by Jacqueline Roque, the last love of his life, who he married in 1961. Though Jacqueline never posed formally as her husband’s model, her essence permeates his later work. The love that Picasso felt for his wife is reflected in the passionate vitality and excitement radiating from the work. The present picture belonged to the collector Patricia Kennedy Lawford (1924-2006), the sixth of nine children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and sister to President John F. Kennedy. Mrs. Lawford visited Picasso at his studio in the late 1960s and was immediately captivated by the present work. She arranged to purchase the picture through Picasso’s dealer, and it remained in her collection until her death.

Amedeo Modigliani’s beautiful Jeanne Hébuterne au Collier has not appeared at auction in nearly 70 years (est. $8/12 million). Painted in 1916-17 at the beginning of their relationship, the work is believed to be the very first portrait of Modigliani’s future wife and muse, Jeanne Hébuterne. By the time he started depicting Jeanne, the artist had developed his mature style, and his portraits of her from the last three years of his life are among his greatest masterpieces, including the world record ($31.4 million) achieved by Sotheby’s New York in 2004. Modigliani’s portraits of Jeanne are rich with emotional and psychological content; here he balances with rich, thick impasto with soft tones, underscoring the tenderness and passion he felt for the sitter.

Kees Van Dongen’s Jeune Fille au Chapeau Fleuri, painted 1907-09, will also be featured (est. $4.5/6.5 million). As is characteristic of his best Fauvist work, van Dongen makes use of sharp tonal shifts, such as the bright clusters of flowers that contrast beautifully against her stark wardrobe. Femme au Chapeau de Roses, circa 1910-1911, (est. $2/3 million) is a further striking example of Kees van Dongen’s early work. The plunging lace neckline of the sitter’s black dress and the flowers garnishing her wide-brimmed hat exemplify the daring stylization for which the artist was renowned. His elegant portraits became coveted status symbols among the grandes dames of Paris.

Other Highlights
The Evening Sale will also feature Henri Matisse’s spectacular Bouquet pour le 14 Juillet 1919, the artist’s emotional celebration of the first Bastille Day following World War I (est. $18/25 million). This work also heralds the fresh and colorful style that would define Matisse’s career from 1919 onward, and signals the artist’s renewed sense of optimism following one of the most troubling periods of his career. The large and ambitious masterpiece (45 1/2 x 35 in, 116 x 89 cm) was presented by the artist to his dealers Bernheim-Jeune shortly after its completion and it remained in Bernheim’s family collection until it was sold at auction in France in the early 1980s. At that time, the picture achieved a record price, and since then, it has been in the same private collection for over a quarter of a century.

Painted in 1890, Claude Monet’s Effet de printemps à Giverny (est. $10/15 million) is a work of superlative quality, representing the pinnacle of the artist’s Impressionist style. The picture exemplifies the artist’s life-long commitment to painting en plein air, exploring the effects of weather conditions and light at different times of the day on the surrounding landscape. Though discreetly painted in the present work, stacks of grain would become the subject of one of Monet’s best-known series over the following years. His series paintings – culminating in the seminal water lilies series – are now among the most celebrated works of Impressionist art, and are often considered the finest compositions of the artist’s oeuvre.

Expressionist Power
Among the Expressionist highlights is Lyonel Feininger’s spectacular Der rote Geiger (The Red Fiddler) of 1934, which comes directly from the collection of the family of the artist (est. $5/7 million). In Der rote Geiger, Feininger revisits a subject he first depicted over two decades earlier. His return to the subject of the fiddler is not surprising: Feininger was the son of a concert violinist and was an able player himself. Painted in Germany on the brink of the defining crisis of the 20th century, Der rote Geiger is more than a depiction of the artist’s passion for music. For the artist, the character is a symbol of defiance and resilience in the face of crushing opposition. This picture marks the first time the fiddler appeared in Feininger’s oils, and it is also the only oil painting completed by the artist outside of his studio while visiting the Baltic village of Deep during his summer holidays in the 1930s Wassily Kandinsky’s Vertiefte Regung (Deepened Impulse) (est. $4.5/6.5 million) has been in private hands for over seventy years. Vertiefte Regung is Kandinsky’s resonant meditation on the celestial beauty of circles. Painted in 1928 while he taught at the Bauhaus design school in Dessau, the picture embodies the aesthetic theories Kandinsky promoted to his students. Circles dominated his most meaningful compositions during this key period of his career. The appearance of Vertiefte Regung (Deepened Impulse) on the market in New York is timely given the recent landmark Kandinsky retrospective at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.

Defining Form
The Evening Sale also contains great examples of sculpture. An exceptionally rare lifetime cast of perhaps the most celebrated sculpture of all time, Auguste Rodin’s Le Penseur (conceived 1880-81) (est. $4/6 million), will also be offered. Created in the same scale as his original clay model, this bronze bears a beautifully modulated patina that was probably applied by the artist’s preferred patineur, Jean-François Limet. A cast of the same size, date and foundry is in the Musée Rodin, Paris.

In Tête de Femme (est. $1.8/2.5 million), Picasso applies one of his signature line drawings of his wife Jacqueline’s facial features to a three-dimensional image by rendering it on a piece of cut and folded sheet metal. By 1961 when he executed the present work, Picasso had become skillful and comfortable with soldering and manipulating metals, and his limits with the medium knew no bounds.

Isamu Noguchi’s sensual Undine (Nadja) (est. $600/900,000) is one of the first figural sculptures by the American artist, who is known primarily for his post-war abstractions. The present sculpture is the only bronze to have been made from Noguchi’s original 1926 plaster form, which has since been destroyed. One of a kind, this unique bronze has been largely unknown for nearly a century and sheds new light on the young sculptor’s talents in the months before beginning his apprenticeship with Constantin Brancusi at the end of the 1920s.

The spring sale will also include Property from the S. Joel Schur Collection, perhaps the finest collection of masterpieces by Bugatti in private hands. Rembrandt Bugatti was a singular figure whose vision was devoted to unique and powerfully modern sculptures of exotic animals. The group comprises eleven sculptures to be offered in both the Evening and Day sales, and will feature such iconic masterworks as a Babouin Sacré Hamadryas (est. $2/3 million), a male and female Lion and Lionne de Nubie (est. $1.5/2 million and $1.2/1.8 million, respectively) and a Grande girafe tête basse (est. $1/1.5 million).

Surrealist Masters
Dalí’s windswept landscape of distant figures on a desolate beach in Spectre du Soir sur la Plage (est. $4/6 million) conveys a vulnerability and menacing solitude that characterizes the artist’s moist poignant compositions. The setting is the beach at Rosas on the Costa Brava, where Dalí spent many summers as a child. Painted in 1935 during the most important period of his career, the present work exemplifies the artist’s genius for representing the potency of people, places and events long forgotten.

Joan Miró’s impressive Personnages dans un Paysage, 1973 (est. $3/4 million), painted in the last decade of the artist’s life, is an exceptional example of abstraction at its most daring. Although no figurative elements of a traditional landscape are visible, the artist only evokes the properties of this genre though the mossy green, sky blue and sunny yellow of his palette. This extraordinarily colorful composition remained in Miró’s collection until the end of his life and was kept by his heirs. As was the case for most of these late works, the artist competed the picture in his studio in Palma de Mallorca, where the warm Mediterranean sunlight and invigorating sea air enlivened his desire to paint bold and exuberant oils.