Sotheby’s is bulking up their Impressionist and Modern sales with a collection of 35 paintings and sculptures with representative works by Alberto Giacometti, René Magritte, Claude Monet, Henry Moore, and Pablo Picasso. Eleven of the paintings in the collection are by Marc Chagall—six works that span nearly 70 years of the artist’s oeuvre—and by Fernand Léger that chart more than 30 years of his artistic output.
Here’s Sotheby’s release on the collection:
Having been acquired primarily in the 1980s and ‘90s with both a fierce passion for art and intelligent connoisseurship, this diverse selection of works encapsulates the great reappraisal of Impressionist and Modernist art, and will appear at auction this November for the first time in over 20 years. Amassed by a self-made entrepreneur, the collection serves as a testament to the foresight of a discerning collector was one of few to forge a fresh, avant-garde approach to collecting at that time. The resulting group shines a light on the “golden age” of Modernism and illustrates a shift in the market at that time towards the abstract, Surreal, even conceptual visions of the artists of the early-20th century.
Works from the collection will be offered across Sotheby’s Evening and Day Sales of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York, on 12 and 13 November, respectively. All works will be on public view in our York Avenue galleries beginning 1 November, with highlights from the collection now on view in Hong Kong.
A brilliant wash of emerald green and crimson red, Fleurs de St. Jean-Cap-Ferrat belongs to a body of work created by Marc Chagall following World War II, featuring several motifs that would remain central to Chagall’s late oeuvre (estimate $2.5/3.5 million). Lighter, renewed tapestries of couples, flowers and animals began to replace Chagall’s darker, religious and Holocaust-related works. The bottom portion of the canvas is devoted to the placid coastline of the work’s titular town, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, situated on a picturesque peninsula southeast of Nice, which served as the locus of Chagall’s artistic rebirth in 1949.
Painted in 1948, Le Cicérone is an enigmatic encapsulation of key themes René Magritte had incorporated into his art during the decades prior (estimate $2/3 million). The Belgian artist would continue to incorporate his signature cooptation of imagery and mysterious juxtapositions in his work until his death in 1967. The present composition features a number of motifs familiar to Magritte’s oeuvre, with its curious protagonist theatrically posed beside a moonlit ledge overlooking the water. However fanciful such readings of Magritte’s work may be, the artist famously rejected interpretation of his scenes, occasionally deriding those who posited such explanations.
Influenced by the Purist aesthetic promulgated by Le Corbusier and Ozenfant, as well as the object-driven assemblages of the Surrealists, Fernand Léger’s still lifes from the late 1920s-30s present carefully-crafted collections of familiar forms, gathered together to achieve the greatest balance in both color and composition. Léger’s Nature morte à la pipe sur fond orange removes its constituent parts from their rational, typical contexts, employing recognizable figures like keys, letters, leaves and pipes primarily for their linear qualities (estimate $1.2/1.8 million). Such objects would become visual mainstays of Léger’s work in the following years, serving as building blocks for his myriad still life compositions.
Following the Tate Modern’s exhibition dedicated to Pablo Picasso’s annus mirabilis, The Ey Exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy, Sotheby’s is pleased to present Homme enlevant une femme from 1933 (estimate $1.2/1.8 million). An amalgam of mythological allusion and personal metaphor, this outstanding work on paper is a rhapsodic watercolor hailing from a distinctive and prolific period in Picasso’s career.
Painted in 1883, Étretat, coucher de soleil exemplifies Claude Monet’s vivid depictions of the Normandy coast, energetically applied in swift, flickering brushstrokes (estimate $1.2/1.8 million). During the 1880s, Monet’s main pictorial emphasis grew to encompass more natural themes than the social ones that concerned his earlier works. Previously, Monet’s depictions of the Normandy coastline were populated by leisurely bourgeois scenes or bucolically presented peasants. In the present work, Monet removes these humdrum elements, preferring to paint uninhabited views of the magnificent coastline.
The collection also features important sculpture, including a rare bronze portrait bust by Alberto Giacometti of his close friend and physician, Dr. Fraenkel (estimate $600/800,000). During the 1950s, Giacometti produced a series of busts which were more figural and naturalistic than his elongated figures of the post-war years. The composition is a reflection of the lonely and vulnerable human condition, a theme that very much preoccupied the artist at this time.
Conceived in 1944, Henry Moore’s Family Group represents the zenith of sustained and involved investigation by the artist into the motif of parenthood (estimate $300/500,000). During the war, Moore produced numerous works of civilians huddled in underground stations, sheltering from the bombing raids over London. These figures, clinging together for comfort and warmth, and draped in blankets, were of fundamental significance to Moore’s creative development of the family group scene and became a symbol of hope and love, of the intransience of human bonds of support, compassion and care, and of turning to the domestic and inner life in the face of immense and universal experiences of trauma.
Created while studying at the Académie Julian in Paris, La Gazelle is one of the first sculptures that Jacques Lipchitz ever conceived (estimate $100/150,000). The work’s graceful line and traditional subject matter are typical of the academic training Lipchitz would have received; at this stage the artist was more attuned to the traditional practice of sculpture than the modern and rule-breaking Cubist masterpieces he would soon create. Another bronze cast from this edition was acquired directly from the artist by the Alfred C. Barnes in 1923 and is now featured in the collection of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.