After December sales across New York and Hong Kong marked a solid close to a challenging year in the art market, the top auction houses are now gearing up for the new year with optimism. Among them is Christie’s, which has announced highlights for two marquee sales in London this March. Heading to those sales are a group of eight works from a single private French collection by modernists Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Max Ernst, Jean Fautrier, Fernand Léger, and Joan Miró. They are expected to fetch a collected £16 million–£24 million ($21.8 million–$32.9 million).
The works are scheduled to be sold as part of two auctions on March 23rd: the 20th Century art evening sale and a Surrealist art evening sale.
Among the lots slated to sell during the Surrealism sale, titled “The Art of the Surreal,” is Miró’s Le piège (1924), an example of the artist’s early style inspired by Surrealist literature. The work once belonged to critic André Breton and was last exhibited in the retrospective “Miró, La couleur de mes rêves,” at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2018. It is expected to fetch a price of £3 million–£5 million ($4.1 million–$6.8 million). Alongside that work will be another by the Spanish painter, Joan Miró, whose Peinture from 1927 been out of the public eye for almost five decades. That work is from the artist’s seminal series of dream paintings, initiated in 1925 during his time in Paris. It is expected to achieve a price of £1.4 million ($1.9 million).
Also coming to auction will be Ernst’s Aux 100,000 colombes (1925), made at a time when the artist began cultivating his semi-automatic grattage technique. It is expected to achieve a price of £1.2 million–£1.8 million ($1.6 million–$2.5 million).
“We are confident that this opening season will see international collectors centre around this significant moment in the art world calendar,” said Keith Gill and Tessa Lord, Christie’s co-heads of its 20th century art evening sale.
Among the works coming to the 20th century art sale are Calder’s Submarine Christmas Tree (1947), estimated at £4 million–£6 million ($5.5–$8.2 million) and owned for more than two decades by actress Delphine Seyrig. It was showcased at a 1969 Calder retrospective at the Fondation Maeght. Léger’s painting Deux femmes couchées (1913), featuring the artist’s Cubism-inspired style from his “Contrastes de formes” series, is estimated at £1.2 million–£1.8 million ($1.6 million–$2.5 million). Deux femmes couchées was previously owned by Cubism collector and scholar Douglas Cooper. Two works by Dubuffet are represented in the sale: a mixed-media work, Le Vase de Barbe (1959), estimated at £2 million–£3 million ($2.7 million-$4.1 million), and Paysage du Pas-de-Calais III (1963), estimated at £2.5 million–£3.5 million ($3.4 million-$4.8 million). Fautrier’s large scale Pièges (1946) is estimated at £1 million–£1.5 million ($1.4 million–$2 million).
The news follows Christie’s earlier announcement of plans to sell works by Miró, Ernst, and René Magritte from the collection of Claude Hersaint during the London Surrealist art sale. The group of three paintings is expected to a fetch a collected £21 million-£32 million ($28 million–$43 million). The works will be sold alongside a trio of paintings from a Swiss Surrealist collection.