Sotheby’s has announced another big work for the London Impressionist and Modern sales, Amadeo Modigliani’s Jeune homme assis, les mains croisées sur les genoux, 1918, with an estimate range of £16-24m. The work has been in the same family for 90 years, as Sotheby’s PR department explains:
The painting is a sublime Modigliani portrait of an unnamed young boy, bought directly from the artist’s dealer Léopold Zborowski in 1927 and remaining in the same family until now. For decades it has only been seen as a black and white image, and it is now coming to auction for the very first time (with an estimate of £16-24 million). The work is utterly transfixing. He takes all of the characteristic traits of his best portraits (the elongation of form, the almond shaped vacant eyes, the rich palette) and applies this elegance to an ordinary subject. His portraits of anonymous young men are actually much rarer than those of his female models – in fact, a comparable work was last offered at auction over a decade ago, when a painting of a young boy, also from 1918, made $31.1 million.
Together with the Monet top lot, it leads a perfectly formed sale of gem-like, high value lots spanning the key moments from Impressionism to Modernism. In fact, 64% of the Evening sale has never previously been at auction, so it really encapsulates those two key words of quality and freshness.