Souren Melikian makes the case for this Seurat painting as the overlooked steal of last night’s sale at Sotheby’s:
The sale included one of Georges Seurat’s admirable preparatory studies in oils that eventually led to the execution of the seven large-size pictures that the master of Divisionism completed in his career.
Now dubbed “Le tas de pierres,” the sketch in oils of a countryman and his wife busying themselves in a field that seems ablaze with light was done by Seurat around 1884. It is a pure gem, well ahead of its time. Seurat sketches of that ilk have become unobtainable. But extreme rarity can be counterproductive. Collectors no longer respond to an art that they have forgotten. They fail to take in the coloristic subtlety and overlook the dazzling brushwork.
Seurat’s rare masterpiece did not prompt the bidding match one might have expected. An inspired lone bidder battling against the reserve carried off the fantastic sketch at a comparatively modest $1.93 million. Not all major museums own Seurat oil studies of this calibre. Talk about missed opportunities.
Modigliani Sells for a Record $69 Million in Wave of Last-Chance Fever (International Herald Tribune/NY Times)