Early warnings about this week’s sales in London seem to have some weight to them following the sales outcome at Christie’s this evening. The auction house’s summer Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale wrapped in London tonight with a dreary outing, closing the 36-lot auction to the paltry tune of £25,612,500, with almost one third of the works offered failing to find a buyer.
The sale kicked off with a Pierre-Auguste Renoir landscape, which saw strong initial bidding to triple estimate and finish at a final price of £1,082,500. A Rodin sculpture met estimate in the next lot, seeing a final price of £530,500. Sales dropped off slightly several lots later with a Wassily Kandinsky, Mit und Gegen, going unsold, while a second work by the Russian master just nudged inside the low estimate to sell at £1,762,500, while a second pass came with a Paul Klee canvas in the next lot.
Several more Kandinsky’s followed in the preceding lots, each selling within estimate, before the auction house arrived at its Amedeo Modigliani masterpiece, Madame Hanka Zborowska. The work saw fervent interest to quickly top estimate, before a more sober round of bids ultimately saw the work settle at a final of £8,258,500. Another of the evening’s top lots, Pablo Picasso’s Mousquetaire et fillette, also failed to find a buyer, as did a second Picasso work in the next lot. Several more passes followed, including an impressive Claude Monet cityscape that sat near the top of the evening’s sale. A Chagall work broke the slide at lot 21, beating estimate for a final of £1,426,500. Another Chagall would pass shortly after.
The late lots were defined by a long string of passes. Sales closed on a number of subdued sales, leaving the auction struggling to come close to pre-sale estimates. Contrasted with Sotheby’s evening sale last night, where a small handful of works carried much of the bidding, this evening’s sale seemed to place its faith in a broader selection of middle tier pieces, a strategy that seems to have hurt the auction house this evening.
Sales continue next week with the Contemporary Evening Sales.
— D. Creahan
Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Evening Sale [Sale Site]