Sotheby’s announces the discovery of a lost Tamara de Lempicka painting from her first exhibition in Milan in 1925. Simon Shaw told Reuters that “She is now one of the most desirable of all female modern artists” and “It’s rare that you can actually prove that a picture is this great, long lost work as a result of a gallery installation photograph, as in this case.” Sotheby’s own release picks up the story:
The whereabouts of Nu adossé I have been unknown for most of its recorded history. The catalogue raisonné for the artist, published in 1999, included an image of the present work (pictured above) taken at the Milan exhibition in 1925, and listed it as “location unknown.” Last year, Sotheby’s was contacted by the West Coastbased owner of the painting. He described finding the work many years before and, while not realizing its importance at the time, he had appreciated its aesthetic appeal and kept it in his home. It was a decade later, after the owner learned that he possibly owned an original Lempicka, that an art consultant advised him to contact Sotheby’s. Following first-hand inspection and subsequent research, the work was confirmed to be the lost Lempicka. The exciting discovery of this painting fills an important art historical gap in the artist’s work.
Nu adossé I is appearing on the market at a time of unprecedented interest in the artist. Over the course of the past year, several new benchmarks have been set for Lempicka’s work at Sotheby’s – in June 2011, a new auction record was set for the artist when her La dormeuse sold for $6.6 million. Five months later, that record was broken again at Sotheby’s when Le rêve achieved $8.5 million.