This report on the Paris Impressionist and Modern Art market by Angelica Villa with data from Live Art Auction is available to AMMpro subscribers. (The first month of AMMpro is free and subscribers are welcome to sign up for the first month and cancel before they are billed.)
Without the force of FIAC and La Bienniale Paris this season to attract global collectors, Christie’s and Sotheby’s faced a new challenge staging their Impressionist & Modern Art auctions in their French headquarters. The sales were lead this June by Van Rysselberghe, Klee, Magritte, Picabia and Picasso, placing works with buyers for prices as high €5.6 million to as low as €625,000.
The summer sales of Impressionist and Modern art in Paris saw an increase from the previous year—the two sessions, which came to €22.6 million total (excluding works on paper offered in a separate session) were up 23% from the €18.4 million total across the March 2019 auctions. The season’s top lots were by Belgian Neo-Impressionist, Theo van Rysselberghe and Swiss artist, Paul Klee.
Across the Impressionist and Modern sales in Paris, only two lots were sold for prices above €5 million. In last year’s Paris Impressionist sales in March, no lots sold above the €5 million price point. This year’s results mark a rise in the overall combined value of the top lots. In 2020, the top ten lots of Paris Impressionist and Modern art sold for a total of €14.8 million and accounted for 67% of the sales total. This year’s sell-through rate came in at 70% with 135 lots finding buyers and 84% of those works selling at or above their pre-sale estimates.
June 2020 Paris Impressionist and Modern Sale Figures
According to the market share analysis, van Rysselberghe, Klee and Magritte lead this season’s Paris auctions, showing demand for works hailing from post-impressionist movements. Modern artists like Picabia and Picasso placed among the top five.
Strong provenance and long holding periods yielded high results. Paul Klee‘s 1937 abstract canvas was held in a private Swiss collection since 1962 before surfacing in the Sotheby’s June sale where it sold for more than twice its low pre-sale estimate. French Post-Impressionist painter Louis Anquetin, saw another benchmark this season with a new record for a work on paper. A pastel, Avenue de Clichy sold for €742,000 against an estimate of €350,000–€450,000 in the Christie’s sale.
As tastes veer towards works made in the later half of the 20th century, Anquetin’s results in recent seasons indicate a rising interest among collectors in artists who landed between the impressionist and modern eras. This February, in a Christie’s London Anquetin’s Femme à sa toilette achieved the second highest price for the artists at $1.7 million, doubling the low pre-sale estimate of just over $500,000. The result came in just under the artist’s 2014 record of $1.8 million realized in a Sotheby’s London sale.
June 2020 Paris Impressionist and Modern Art Market Share Data
The painter ran in the same circle as members of the Paris avant-garde: Émile Bernard, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Vincent van Gogh, known for their shared desire to develop a painterly style beyond Impressionism and Pointillism—one that would reflect a modern sensibility. Female French Impressionist, Berthe Morisot, has climbed the ranks as well, coming in with the 7th highest market share. An acquaintance of Manet, Degas and Renoir, Morisot was recently the subject of a retrospective at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Across the modern art sector, lesser-known artists are seeing new attention as the market embraces those once at the margins.
Three of the top ten lots sold above estimates, with Picabia‘s Montigny achieving a selling price of more than four times its high estimate. Driven by a 2016 MoMA survey dedicated to the artist, Picabia prices have seen a steady incline in the last several seasons. Berthe Morisot’s portrait of Paule Gobillard, her niece and fellow painter hammered at the low end of the pre-sale estimated range and ranked as the top four lots sold across both auctions. Morisot’s record price was established in 2013 during a Christie’s London auction with her 1881 Après le déjeuner selling for £6.9 million ($11 million).
Among the most successful lots was Leonard Foujita‘s Chat endormi from 1926, which came to auction for the first time hailing from the collection of a Belgian noble. The work ultimately sold for €200,000, more than five times its pre-sale estimate of €35,000.
French painter, Albert Marquet’s Le port de Stockholm from 1938 also bested expectations. It came to auction after being held in a private collection since its last Paris sale in 1992 and sold for more than three times its estimate of €30,000, realizing €93,750
June 2020 Paris Impressionist and Modern Art Top 50 Lots
Works by Berard, Foujita, Malle and Anquetin saw the highest hammer ratios. French painters led the top 25 works in performance against their low pre-sale estimates. French-Polish painter Moise Kisling‘s, known for his portraits of woman and stylistic similarities to his contemporary Modigliani, saw high demand for his single figure portrait. Femme au corsage blanc painted in 1924 sold for €206,250, more than three times its low estimated value of €60,000. The work came to market after being held in a private collection since 1993 and last came to auction in 1991 at Paris house, Tajan. The result suggests the works was undervalued, as Kisling’s auction record stands at $641,425, established in a Sotheby’s London sale in 2016.
June 2020 Paris Impressionist and Modern Art Hammer Ratio