AO Auction Recap: Impressionist and Modern Evening Sales, May 6th-7th, 2014

May 8th, 2014

Pablo Picasso, Le Sauvetage (1932), Via Sotheby's
Pablo Picasso, Le Sauvetage (1932), Via Sotheby’s

The Modern and Impressionist evening sales in New York have closed, following two nights of sales at Sotheby’s and Christie’s that failed to achieve the same exceptional sales figures that have marked previous auctions, while still finding buyers for most of the works on sale.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Les deux soeurs (Circa 1890-95), via Christie's
Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Les deux soeurs (Circa 1890-95), via Christie’s

Tuesday night’s sale at Christie’s saw strong figures, realizing a final result of nearly $286 million over the course of its 54-lot sale, with only seven works failing to find a buyer.  Even so, the fireworks some analysts predicted to occur over the Monet waterlillies or Picasso’s portrait of Dora Maar failed to materialize.  Instead, most of the highly priced works sold just inside or below their low estimate.  Nymphéas, the Monet cover lot, brought in a $27 million final price tag, while the Picasso’s Portrait de Femme achieved a final price of $22.5 million, just below its $25 million low estimate.  A Renoir portrait, Two Soeurs, was the rare exception, climbing to a $8 million final, just over its $6 million high estimate.

Claude Monet, Nymphéas (1907), via Christie's
Claude Monet, Nymphéas (1907), via Christie’s

Pablo Picasso, Portrait de femme (Dora Maar) (1942), via Christie's
Pablo Picasso, Portrait de femme (Dora Maar) (1942), via Christie’s

Henri Matisse, La Séance Du Matin (1924), Via Sotheby's
Henri Matisse, La Séance Du Matin (1924), Via Sotheby’s

Similarly, Sotheby’s capped its 72-lot sale just below the low sales estimate of $220.6 million, bringing in a final sales tally of $219 million, helped in large part by Picasso’s buoyant Le Sauvetage, which flew past its high sales estimates of $18 million to realize an impressive $31.5 million price tag.  Not quite so impressive was the sale of Henri Matisse’s La Séance du matin, estimated at $20 to $30 million, but selling below estimate at $19 million.  An untitled Joan Miró managed to exceed its estimates however, bringing in $8 million to beat its high estimate of $6 million.  21 of the works failed to sell.

With moderate, predictable sales in the bag, attention now turns to next week, when the auction houses will test the strength of the contemporary market.

Joan Miró, Sans Titre, via Sotheby's
Joan Miró, Sans Titre, via Sotheby’s

Claude Monet, Le Pont Japonais (1918-1924), Via Sotheby's
Claude Monet, Le Pont Japonais (1918-1924), Via Sotheby’s

—D. Creahan

Read more:
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale Results [Christie’s]
Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale Results [Sotheby’s]
“Christie’s First Spring Sale Drops Prices Back to Earth” [New York Times]
“Picasso Painting Fetches $31.5 Million at Sotheby’s Sale” [Bloomberg]