Sotheby’s announced a few more works in its World War I-themed sale within a sale, The Beautiful and Damned. Today’s announcement includes an Oskar Kokoschka and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner work. Each work is being restituted and will be sold with an estimate of between $15 and $20m.
Sotheby’s is honored to announce that two Modern masterworks recently restituted to the heirs of art-world luminary Alfred Flechtheim will highlight our Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York on 12 November 2018.
Among the finest examples by their respective artists ever to appear at auction, Oskar Kokoschka’s portrait ofJoseph de Montesquiou-Fezensac from 1910 (estimate $15/20 million) and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s compelling Das Soldatenbad (Artillerymen) from 1915 (estimate $15/20 million) both encapsulate the seismic shifts occurring in visual arts during the period leading up to and including the onset of World War I. They also serve as testaments to Flechtheim’s passion for collecting exceptional Expressionist works.
In addition to their inherent art historical significance, both paintings are distinguished by their illustrious provenance and remarkable stories of restitution to Flechtheim’s heirs. Prior to its restitution earlier this year, Kirchner’s Das Soldatenbadhad resided in the distinguished collection of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York for three decades, and in The Museum of Modern Art prior to that. Like the Kirchner,Kokoschka’s Joseph de Montesquiou-Fezensac was voluntarily returned to Flechtheim’s heirs in 2018 by the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. As in the past, the Flechtheim heirs are expecting to use some of the proceeds for charitable causes, and for Holocaust remembrance and education purposes.
Joseph de Montesquiou-Fezensac and Das Soldatenbadwill be on view in Sotheby’s New York headquarters beginning 2 November, as part of our full sale exhibitions of Impressionist & Modern and Contemporary Art.
Lucian Simmons, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Restitution and Senior Specialist in the Impressionist & Modern Art Department, commented: “It is an honor to present these two recently restituted masterworks by Oskar Kokoschka and Ernst Ludwig Kirchner at auction this November. While markedly different in subject matter, both works are striking embodiments of the momentous changes developing in visual art throughout Europe at the time, and, as we can see with the Kirchner in particular, a tremendously palpable sense of angst during the beginning of World War I. Painted just after he returned from the war, Das Soldatenbadinstills the viewer with the same dehumanizing sentiments that Kirchner experienced during his enlistment and the frightening anonymity of life as a soldier. In this ferocious anti-war painting, the artist embraces the avant-garde through various techniques: the spatial arrangement of the figures; his unmediated depictions of the body that are divorced from the rigorous constraints of academic painting. In contrast, Kokoschka’s entrancing “soul painting” of Joseph de Montesquiou-Fezensacis an intensive study of personality and expression, one wherein he sought to bring the invisible inside of a person to the surface. These two introspective pictures are united not only by their respective restitutions, but also by the pioneering foresight of Alfred Flechtheim, an innovative figure in his own right and trailblazer in the field of collecting. It is with this rich history that we are delighted to offer this pair of avant-garde canvases in our Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale.”