Rene Magritte sculpture for Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art Auction

Works by Belgian artists Felix Labisse, Constant Permeke and René Magritte are to feature in Bonhams Impressionist & Modern Art auction on 7th February 2012 at 101 New Bond Street, London, as well as an exciting selection of paintings by Pablo Picasso, Amedeo Modigliani, Raoul Dufy, Marc Chagall, Candido Portinari and Carlos Nadal.

Le puits de vérité by René Magritte (1898-1967) is expected to prove very popular with bidders. In 1964 Magritte’s dealer suggested that he produced a small number of sculptures and the artist enthusiastically embraced the opportunity to work with a new medium: bronze. Magritte chose eight subjects to cast in bronze, and it is recorded that he went to the bronze foundry in Verona on a number of occasions to ensure that the casting was completed to his exacting specifications. Le puits de vérité was one of the first works to be cast, and he gifted it to his wife Georgette Magritte in 1968 – it remained with her until her death in 1986. It is regarded to be amongst one of the most successful sculptures within the series, bringing together the artist’s fascination with ideas of the banal, identity and notions of scale. The work relates to a 1963 painting of the same title, which depicts the oversized shoe and truncated trouser leg in the foreground and a row of trees in the background. It is estimated to sell for €180,000 – 240,000 / £150,000-200,000.

Another work in the sale by a Belgian artist is Comédiens antiques by Félix Labisse (1905-1982). The artist is known for his Surrealist works which often include fantastical hybrid creatures, and this example is no exception. It has attracted a pre-sale estimate of €12,000-18,000 / £10,000-15,000.

Constant Permeke (Belgian, 1886-1952) painted La ferme au saule in 1928. It is estimated to sell for €6,000 – 8,400 / £5,000-7,000.

A stunning painting of Notre Dame de Paris by Pablo Picasso is another highlight of the sale. Here Picasso has taken a subject he knows well, via his walks to, and the view from, his studio, but he chooses to challenge the truth in order to explore artistic aims other than realism. He toys with the artistic conventions of perspective and scale to leave the viewer separated from reality and immersed instead into Picasso’s own pictorial truth. Dated 1954, it is one of his later landscapes, but it shows the influence of his earlier experiments with Cubism. By October 1954, when it was completed, the artist was falling in love with a woman who would later become his wife – Jacqueline Roque. At the time of painting Notre Dame de Paris, they were in the springtime of their passion, and Picasso’s happiness at the time of working on this painting is evident. The vibrancy and impasto on the surface of the paint suggests Picasso’s joy and positivity. It is a painting depicting one day – marked ‘25.10.54’ in the lower right of the painting – and as such, is a moment captured. It is as if it is a summer’s day rather than a day in late October, and Picasso’s new found love of Jacqueline and rediscovered love of Paris communicates beyond the picture plane. It is estimated to sell for €840,000 – 1,200,000 / £700,000-1,000,000.

Also featured is Jeune fille aux cheveux noirs by the Italian artist Amedeo Modigliani. This offering follows on from Bonhams’ successful sale of another Modigliani portrait – Portrait de Femme, which fetched £1,812,000 on 21st June 2011. Modigliani is renowned for his enigmatic portraits of women with their elongated features and deep gazes. They have been described as ‘the works by which the artist has earned his place in the history of art’ and this fine example, estimated at €840,000 – 1,200,000 / £700,000-1,000,000, is no exception. It comes to the market from the Laurence S. Rockefeller Fund.

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