AO Auction Preview: Modernist and Impressionist Evening Sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s London, February 4-5th, 2014

February 4th, 2014

Juan Gris, Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux (1915), via Christie's
Juan Gris, Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux (1915), via Christie’s

After the beginning of the February auctions in New York last week, attention will shift across the Atlantic to London, where the Impressionish and Modern art auctions will commence today, February 4th with Christie’s evening sale.  This year, the modern sale will offer some strong works from both auction houses, boasting impressive estimates that belie a strong offering across the board, rather than a handful of big ticket works.

Camille Pissarro, Le Boulevard Montmartre, Matinée De Printemps (1897), via Sotheby's
Camille Pissarro, Le Boulevard Montmartre, Matinée De Printemps (1897), via Sotheby’s

Even so, Christie’s seems to be continuing its dominance of the auction weeks with a sale of 48 works during its evening sale, valued at  $223 million to $323 million, lead by Pablo Picasso’s iconic Femme Au Costume Turc, a 1955 piece that is commanding a pre-sale estimate of $24.6 million to $32.9 million.  Also offered at the top of the auction house’s catalog is a Juan Gris still-life from 1915.  Valued from $19.7 to $29.6 million, the painting has the potential to break the artist’s current auction record of $28.6 million.  Given the rising demand for the artist’s work in past years, this sale may become a reality.  Giacometti’s immediately recognizable Trois Hommes Qui Marchent I is also on sale, carrying an estimate of $10,205,200 – $13,168,000.

Pablo Picasso, Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil (1955), via Christie's
Pablo Picasso, Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil (1955), via Christie’s

In contrast, Sotheby’s is offering nearly twice that number of works with a 90 lot offering that barely scratches the surface of Christie’s pre-sale valuations, with an estimated valuation “in excess of $150 million” as its press release states.  Even so, a number of strong works are offered, led by its cover lot, Camille Pissaro’s Le Boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps, a highly praised work that carries an estimate of $11.4 million to $16.4 million.  The high initial estimate bodes well for the artist’s auction record, one which is assumed to fall at auction on Wednesday.  Also on sale is an impressive late-career Matisse, valued from $10.6 to $13.9 million.  The Sotheby’s sales this week will also boast a second offering of works from the Krugier Collection, which saw middling results last year when the first set of pieces went to auction.

Marc Chagall, Le Violoncelliste (1939), Via Sotheby's
Marc Chagall, Le Violoncelliste (1939), Via Sotheby’s

The Evening sales this week will begin at 7:00PM GMT tonight in London.  Art Observed will be covering the auctions on our Instagram and Twitter.

Henri Matisse, Boléro Violet (1937), Via Sotheby's
Henri Matisse, Boléro Violet (1937), Via Sotheby’s

René Magritte, Le Beau Monde (1962), Via Sotheby's
René Magritte, Le Beau Monde (1962), Via Sotheby’s

Alberto Giacometti, Trois hommes qui marchent I (1951), via Christie's
Alberto Giacometti, Trois hommes qui marchent I (1951), via Christie’s

—D. Creahan

Read more:
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale [Christie’s]
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale [Sotheby’s]
“Picasso, Magritte feature in Christie’s February auctions” [Reuters]
“Seized by Nazis, Now for Sale” [New York Times]