NEW YORK, NY.-
Amedeo Modiglianis Nu assis sur un divan (La Belle Romaine), the finest painting by the artist to appear at auction in recent years, will lead Sothebys
2 November 2010 Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale in New York (est. in excess of $40 million**). La Belle Romaine ranks among the definitive nudes in the history of Western art, continuing in the tradition of Botticelli's Venus, Velazquez's Rokeby Venus, Ingres' Baigneuse turque and Manet's Olympia. The work will be on view in Sothebys Hong Kong and London galleries before returning to New York for exhibition and sale*.
Simon Shaw, Head of Sothebys Impressionist & Modern Art Department in New York, said, La Belle Romaine is a true icon. Alongside other nudes in the series, she represents Modiglianis greatest achievement in painting. The work and artist both have a distinguished history at Sothebys. La Belle Romaine last appeared on the market in 1999, when it sold at Sothebys New York for $16.8 million, a world record price for any work by Modigliani at the time. In addition, Sothebys set the current record for a painting by Modigliani in 2004 with our sale of Jeanne Hébuterne (devant une porte) for $31.4 million.
La Belle Romaine is from Modiglianis most important series of nudes, all painted circa 1917. Seven of the works caused a sensation upon their début in Paris that year at the Galerie Berthe Weill, attracting a crowd as well as the local police, who temporarily shut down the exhibition. The depiction of contemporary women, removed from any allegorical or historical narrative and exuding a confident sensuality, was a new and shocking experience.
The erotic allure of La Belle Romaine is reflected in both Modiglianis palette and his models pose. The amber and rose tones evoke the radiant warmth of the figure and the intimate atmosphere in which the artist depicts her. Seated on a cushioned surface and draped in a sheet, the model entices the viewer with her coy attempt to shield her nudity. The tilt of her head, piled with lustrous black hair, the strained exposure of her neck and the arch of her brow, all communicate an unmistakable seduction.
Modigliani began painting nudes in 1908, but it was only after he abandoned sculpture in 1914 that he developed the signature style epitomized by La Belle Romaine. The influences of the Italian Renaissance, Cubism and African art are all apparent in this work: the provocative pose of the model recalls the curvaceous anatomy of Titians Venus of Urbino; the linear simplicity and three-dimensional appeal demonstrate the influence of African tribal carvings as well as the artists own experience with sculpture; the composition recalls Picassos monumental female nudes from his Rose period.
* Exhibition Schedule
Hong Kong 4-6 October 2010
London 11-15 October 2010
New York 29 October --- 2 November 2010
**Estimate does not include buyers premium