AO Auction Preview – London: The Impressionist/Modern and Post-War/Contemporary Evening Sales, February 26th – March 7th, 2019

February 25th, 2019

Claude Monet, Le Palais Ducal (1908), via Sotheby’s

With the month of February drawing to a close, the major auction houses are gearing up for their first real test of the year, with a string of auctions set to take place over the course of the following weeks in London.  Marking major sales for both the Impressionist/Modern and Post-War/Contemporary categories, the next two weeks should offer some perspective on how the secondary market is faring in relation to what seems to be an energetic but slightly smaller fair circuit.

Wassily Kandinsky, Vertiefte Regung (Deepened Impulse) (1928), via Sotheby’s

Sales kick off on Tuesday with a 24-lot auction at Sotheby’s, a well-stocked evening that carries several impressive lots.  Leading the evening is a captivating Claude Monet work from his series of Venice paintings, capturing La Palazzo Ducale in all its sun-specked glory.  The work carries an equally impressive price tag of £20,000,000 — £30,000,000.  It’s joined by Triestiner Fischerboot, an Egon Schiele composition estimated at £6,000,000 — £8,000,000.  Also of note is a Wassily Kandinsky piece, Deepened Impulse, which is estimated at £5,500,000 — £7,500,000.  

Egon Schiele Triestiner Fischerboot (Trieste Fishing Boat) (1912), via Sotheby’s

Claude Monet, Saule pleureur et bassin aux nymphéas (1919), via Christie’s

The sales continue the following evening at Christie’s, where the auction house’s combined series of sales will pair a group of masterpieces with a  broader sale of works. The curated sale, featuring works from “a distinguished private collection,” features a range of trophy works, counting among its offerings a Paul Cézanne still-life that could easily top £20 million, as well as a Claude Monet drawing that also boasts an estimate of well over £10 million.  The main sale will also offer a Monet at the top of the sales lots, as well as a captivating Paul Signac, which will test the artist’s auction record with an estimate of at least £12 million.

Paul Cézanne, Nature morte de pêches et poires (1887), via Christie’s

Paul Signac, Le Port au soleil couchant, Opus 236 (Saint-Tropez) (1892), via Christie’s

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Apex (1986), via Sotheby’s

Following this string of sales, the auction houses will launch a series of contemporary evening sales the following week, making a second pass at the secondary market while The Armory Show takes place across the Atlantic.  Sales begin on March 5th at Sotheby’s, where a 68-lot offering will look to make a first strike of the year, and to capitalize on the energy of the last few weeks of contemporary fair events.  Of particular note in the sale is the offering of a Jenny Saville piece, Juncture, a clear attempt to follow up on the artist’s record-setting successes last year.  The piece carries an estimate of £5,000,000 —£7,000,000.  Also on offer is a powerful Jean-Michel Basquiat piece, Apex, which carries an estimate of upwards of £20 million, and could make for an early highlight in a week of high-profile sales.  

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild (2009), via Sotheby’s

David Hockney, Henry Geldzahler and Christopher Scott (1969), via Christie’s

The following evening, Christie’s will take its crack at the Contemporary Market, launching a 42-lot sale that carries a selection of familiar highlights in offering to well-heeled buyers.  The sale is led by a David Hockney composition, which is anticipated to top £15 million, while a Peter Doig work expected to exceed a final of £3,000,000 – £5,000,000.

Peter Doig, Haus der Bilder (House of Pictures) (2001), via Christie’s

The sales conclude March 7th, with a selection of works on sale at Phillips, where its 20th Century and Contemporary Sale will cap off the week with a brisk 29-lot sale, bringing the week to a close with a strong selection of curated works that includes Gerhard Richter’s iconic piece Düsenjäger, estimated at £10,000,000 – £15,000,000m while Roy Lichtenstein’s Girl in Mirror also tops out the upper end of the sale, estimated at £4,500,000 – £6,500,000.

Marking several ample opportunities to test the market in all of its major categories, the following weeks should be quite intriguing in London.

Jenny Saville, Juncture (1994), via Sotheby’s

Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale [Sotheby's]
Hidden Treasures: Impressionist & Modern Masterpieces from an Important Private Collection [Christie's]
Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale [Christie's]
Sotheby’s Post-War and Contemporary Evening Sale [Sotheby's]
Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Auction [Christie's]
Phillips 20th Century and Contemporary Evening Sale [Phillips]