AO Auction Preview – London: The January Modern and Impressionist Auctions Begin Tomorrow at Christie’s

February 1st, 2010

Kirche in Cassone (Church in Cassone), Gustav Klimt via Sotheby’s

Masterpieces by Pablo Picasso, Gustav Klimt and Henri Matisse that have been unseen for decades will go under the hammer this week at Christie’s and Sotheby’s in London at the first major European auctions of 2010. The appearance of many top-quality, ‘lost’ works marks a distinct change in the attitude of sellers who have been encouraged to put their prized works on the market by the recent success of Impressionist and Modern Art sales – most notable is Sotheby’s November Impressionist and Modern sale in New York that exceeded all expectations when it realized $182m over a high-end estimate of $163m. The sales kick-off with Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale on February 2 that will offer 86 lots with a total pre-sale value of £56,505,000 to £80,805,000. The sale is led by works by Kees van Dongen, Natalia Goncharova, Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse. Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on Wednesday, February 3 is smaller with only 39 lots but the target of £102million is considerably higher. This high estimate is excelled by three works from Gustave Klimt, Alberto Giacometti and Paul Cézanne that are individually estimated to realize more than £10 million – the auction house sold three works for that price across all categories all last year.

More text, images and related links after the jump….

La Gitane, Kees van Dongen. Estimate: $8,882,500 – $12,112,500 via Christie’s

Espagnole, Natalia Gontcharova. Estimate: $6,460,000 – $9,690,000 via Christie’s

Two paintings by Kees van Dongen and Natalia Goncharova, both inspired by Spanish subjects, represent the centrepiece at Christie’s. Van Dongen’s portrait of a Spanish female model, La Gitane, is being offered at auction for the first time and is expected to realize  $8.8million to $12million. Goncharova’s Espagnole is also being offered at auction for the first time and carries a low estimate of $6.4million.

Tête de femme (Jacqueline), Pablo Picasso. Estimate $4,845,000 – $6,460,000 via Christie’s

Homme assis sur une chaise, Pablo Picasso Estimate: $5,652,500 – $8,882,500 via Christie’s

Two portraits by Pablo Picasso, Homme Assis Sur une Chaise from 1956 and Tete de Femme (Jacqueline), an image of the artist’s second wife, are top lots with low end estimates of $5.6million and $4 million respectively. Tete de Femme (Jacqueline), is a great marker for comparison as another image Tete de Femme a painted by Picasso in 1961 was estimated to fetch between $7 and $10 million at Christie’s in November, 2009 – when bids came to a halt at $6.4million questions were inevitably raised about the demand for Modern Art.

L’Homme qui marche I, Alberto Giacometti. Estimate: £8-12 million via Sotheby’s

One of the most valuable highlights at Sotheby’s evening sale emerged for sale following a restitution agreement brokered by Sotheby’s. Gustav Klimt’s Church in Cassone-Landscape with Cypresses was painted by the artist while on holiday with his lover Emilie Floge near Lake Garda and carries an estimate of £12-18 million. The painting went missing in Vienna during the Nazi period and only resurfaced several decades later. The proceeds will be split between the current owner, who wishes to remain anonymous, and the descendant of the Jewish Viennese family to whom it originally belonged.

Sotheby’s are also offering a monumental Alberto Giacometti sculpture, L’Homme qui marche I, with a price tag of £12–18 million. Last November, another notable Giacometti came to market, at Sotheby’s New York. Last November, L’homme qui Chavire (Falling Man), was the top lot at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern evening sale in New York top lot – the notable work sold for $19,346,500, exceeding pre-sales estimates of $8-12 million. “We are delighted to have the rare opportunity to offer a monumental and lifetime cast of this iconic work,” co-chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art department worldwide Helena Newman said in a statement.

Related Links:
Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Sale Homepage
Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Sale E-Catalogue
‘Lost’ Klimt landscape to join multimillion-pound London auction [The Guardian]
Set to Fetch a Grand Price [Wall Street Journal]
Picasso and Renoir unseen for forty years go on sale at Christie’s []
Billionaires lead art world recovery with sale of £10m masterpieces
[Times Online]
Looted Klimt to sell at Sotheby’s for up to £18m []
Dresdner’s Giacometti to Boost $202 Million Auctions in London [Bloomberg]
Chinese Loom as Art-Sale players[Wall Street Journal]
Art sales bank on market for masterpieces [The Independent]