AO Auction Preview: Sotheby's and Christie's to Hold Impressionist & Modern Sales in New York, May 3 & 4, 2011

May 2nd, 2011


Pablo Picasso, Femmes Lisant (Deux Personnages), 1934 (est. $25-35 million), via Sothebys.com

The New York spring sales begin this week as Sotheby’s and Christie’s hold their Impressionist & Modern evening auctions on May 3rd and 4th, respectively. Sotheby’s 59-lot sale is estimated to fetch $158.9-227.9 million, while Christie’s 55-lot sale is expected to bring in at least $160 million. Five works to hit the auction block (one at Sotheby’s and four at Christie’s) carry estimates of $20 million or more. The headlining work at Sotheby’s is a 1932 portrait by Picasso of his mistress, Marie-Thérèse Walter. The painting is similar to the portrait of Walter that led the February Impressionist and Modern sale at Sotheby’s London and sold for £25.4 million (about $42.4 million) against a high estimate of £18 million ($30 million). Femmes Lisant (Deux Personnages) last changed hands in 1981 and is expected to fetch between $25-35 million.

More text and images after the jump…


Paul Gaugin, Jeune Tahitienne, c. 1893 (est. $10-15 million), via Sothebys.com

The most anticipated piece of sculpture to be offered in either sale is a portrait bust in wood by Paul GauginJeune Tahitienne carries the second highest estimate at the Sotheby’s sale and is expected to fetch upwards of $10 million. Gaugin sculpted this portrait of a young Tahitian woman during his first trip to Tahiti between 1890-1893. The artist promised to bring Jeanne Fournier, the nine year old daughter of the critic and collector Jean Dolent, a present from the tropics, and so a few months after his return he gave her the present work. It stayed in her possession until 1961, when she entrusted a Dominican priest to sell it on her behalf at Sotheby’s London, where it was acquired by the present owner.


Pablo Picasso, Couple a la Guitare, 1970 (est. $10-15 million), via Sothebys.com

The Sotheby’s sale will feature ten works by Picasso that span the artist’s career and date from 1901-1970. The latest canvas, Couple a la Guitare, comes from the collection of San Francisco-based collector Dodie Rosekrans. Painted when the artist was 88 years old, the work is expected to bring between $10-15 million.


Alexej von Jawlensky, Frau mit Grunem Facher, 1912 (est. $8-12 million), via Sothebys.com

Another work inspired by the artist’s lover is among the top lots at Sotheby’s. Alexej von Jawlensky‘s richly colored portrait of his wife, Helene, is expected to fetch as much as $12 million. The artist’s record was set at the height of the art market bubble in 2008 with the sale of another portrait painted around 1910 for 9.4 million GBP (or $18.6 million in 2008).


Rene Magritte, Quand L’Heure Sonnera, 1932 (est. $5-7 million), via Sothebys.com


Salvador Dali, Princess Arthchild Gourielli-Helena Rubenstein, 1943 (est. $1-1.5 million), via Sothebys.com

Both the Sotheby’s and Christie’s sales feature a handful of Surrealist works. Surrealist works performed extremely well during the last round of auctions in February, most notably when Dali’s auction record was set first at Christie’s and then shattered the next night at Sotheby’s with a £13.5 million sale. Interest in works by Rene Magritte was also strong in February, and a work by the artist is among the top lots at Sotheby’s. Quand L’Heure Sonnera is estimated to bring $5-7 million. A portrait of Helena Rubenstein by Dali is expected to bring $1-1.5 million, also at Sotheby’s.


Claude Monet, Les Peupliers, 1891 (est. $20-30 million), via Christies.com


Claude Monet, Iris Mauves, 1914-1917 (est. $15-20 million), via Christies.com

Christie’s Impressionist & Modern evening sale boasts four lots with high estimates at or above $20 million. The featured lot is a Monet poplar painting that last sold at Christie’s in 2000 for $7 million. This time around the canvas is estimated to fetch between $20-30 million. It is the largest of twenty-four views of poplar trees on the bank of the river Epte that Monet painted in 1891. Another emphatically vertical work by Monet, this one much larger, is also among the top lots at Christie’s. Measuring over six feet long, Iris Mauves is expected to bring at least $15 million.


Pablo Picasso, Les Femmes d’Alger, version L 1955 (est. $20-30 million), via Christies.com

The Christie’s sale includes five Picasso lots, the star of which is one in a series of paintings that pay homage to Delacroix’s 1934 Les Femmes D’Alger. Picasso created fifteen works in this series, each designated as versions A through O. The work for sale on Wednesday night carries the same presale estimate as the featured Monet lot, though Les Peupliers snagged the cover of the catalogue.


Maurice de Vlaminck, Paysage de Banlieue, 1905 (est. $18-25 million),via Christies.com

Billionaire collector Steven A. Cohen is rumored to be the present owner of a Fauvist landscape by Maurice de Vlaminck that will be offered at Christie’s. The radiant canvas carries the third highest presale estimate and is expected to bring as much as $25 million.


Pablo Picasso, Les Enfants et les Jouets, 1901 (est. $5.5-7.5 million), via Christies.com

Also at Christie’s is an early (and charming) Picasso showing two young children playing with toys. Les Enfants et les Jouets was painted in 1901, when the artist was 19, and is estimated to bring $5.5-7.5 million. Buyers interested in Picasso’s early period will have the present work and a similar one offered at Sotheby’s (seemingly featuring the same baby in a red polka dot dress) to chose from. The Sotheby’s canvas, also of 1901, carries a slightly higher presale estimate of $6-8 million.

Follow ArtObserved on Twitter for live tweeting at the auctions, and check back here for auction results.

-J. Mizrachi

Related articles:

Sotheby’s e-Catalogue [Sotheby’s]
Christie’s e-Catalogue [Christie’s]
The Art Market Snaps Back [Wall Street Journal]
The Art Market: Bubble Gazing [Financial Times]
Early Picasso to Highlight Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on May 4 [ArtDaily]
Sotheby’s to Hold Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York in May [ArtDaily]

RICHARD L. O’CONNOR, 84, DIES; EARNED AIR MEDAL AS CIVILIAN IN WWII COMBAT

The Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY) June 6, 1996 Richard L. O’Connor, who flew missions “over the Hump” during World War II in the China-Burma-India theater of operations, was one of the few civilians to receive the Air Medal. go to site canisius high school

A technical representative for the Buffalo-based Curtiss-Wright Aircraft Corp. during the war, he became a civilian flying in combat as he tested Curtiss-Wright aircraft over the Himalayas.

“It was one of his main things,” a son, Daniel F. O’Connor, said of the Air Medal, which was accompanied by a letter from President Harry S. Truman that credited O’Connor’s test-piloting for a “significant decrease in the loss of lives.” “It was quite a big deal,” his son Daniel said. “Usually, you need to be in the service to get the Air Medal.” O’Connor, 84, died Wednesday (June 5, 1996) in Kenmore Mercy Hospital after a brief illness.

He had a distinguished career as a teacher — of Greek, Latin and French at Canisius High School; of science at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute; and of Italian at Nardin Academy.

“He was a man of incredibly strong intellect and integrity,” his son said. “He was a devoted husband and a loving father.” A native of Buffalo, O’Connor was a graduate of Canisius High School and attended Canisius College and Georgetown University before receiving a master of arts degree from Catholic University in 1937.

For the next two years, he taught at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.

A technical representative for Curtiss-Wright throughout World War II, O’Connor received the Air Medal in 1946 and continued working for Curtiss-Wright until he joined Fairchild Aircraft in Hagerstown, Md., in 1955.

He went with the Martin Marietta Corp. five years later, working on the Titan missile project in Denver and in Tucson, Ariz., until 1964, when he returned to Buffalo and joined the faculty of Canisius High School. canisiushighschoolnow.com canisius high school

After retiring from Canisius in 1977, O’Connor taught at Nardin until about 1980.

He was a member of the Air Force Association.

Surviving in addition to his son are his wife of 47 years, Edna Rott O’Connor; two daughters, Mary Hand of Elmira and Ann Magner of Fort Erie, Ont.; two other sons, Charles M. of Newstead and Kevin R.; and 11 grandchildren.

A Memorial Mass will be offered at 10 a.m. Friday in St. Margaret’s Catholic Church, 1395 Hertel Ave. Entombment will be in Resurrection Mausoleum of Mount Olivet Cemetery, Town of Tonawanda. {Brady}.