LONDON, UK.- A wide spectrum of Impressionist and Modern masterpieces from across Europe was strongly competed for at Sotheby's in London this evening (Tuesday, February 8, 2005) fetching a total of £37,568,400 ($69,757,005).
Melanie Clore, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby's Europe and Co-Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art Worldwide, said: "We are extremely proud of the results for tonight's sale which reflects the fact that in spite of the weak dollar the market continues to flourish. We sold ten works for more than £1,000,000 and bidding was strong across the board, with European buyers accounting for 72% of the lots sold, the remainder split equally between America and the rest of the world."
The top lot of the sale was a masterpiece by Fernand Léger (1881-1955), entitled Nature Morte à la Lampe, which fetched £2,920,000, against a pre-sale estimate of £2,500,000-3,500,000*. Painted in 1914, the painting is a vivid example of Léger's series of Contrastes de Formes, the great Cubist compositions that he executed in 1913 and 1914.
German and Austrian works performed particularly well tonight, with a major work by Max Beckmann (1884-1956) highlighting this section of the sale. Painted in 1943, Dame mit Spiegel was created during the most fruitful and creative phase of the artist's career. It sold for £2,808,000, against a pre-sale estimate of £2,500,000-3,500,000. Other German and Austrian artists whose works performed well were Egon Schiele and Alexej von Jawlensky. Of particular note was Jawlensky's Stilleben mit Hyazinthe, Blauem Krug und Äpfeln which fetched more than six times the pre-sale low estimate of £100,000 when it sold for £624,000.
Among the Impressionist and Modern works was a beautiful pair of female nudes by Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920) which had never before been seen on the market. They attracted fierce competition, selling for £2,696,000, well above the pre-sale estimate of £800,000-1,200,000. The works are among the most remarkable examples of Modigliani's exploration of Caryatids, the theme that preoccupied the artist during his early years in Paris, leading up to the First World War.
The sale featured several works by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) including two works on paper of one of his most familiar subjects, ballet dancers. Les Trois danseuses jaunes, which dates from circa 1897, is a particularly vibrant example of his later style, with its more impressionistic approach and explosions of colour. It sold for £2,472,000, far exceeding the pre-sale estimate of £1,200,000-1,800,000. The second work, Étude de danseuses, executed in 1878-79, sold for £344,000 (pre-sale estimate £250,000-350,000).
Camille Pissarro's (1830-1903) Le Carrousel, Matin d'Automne was last seen at auction in 1962, when it fetched £19,800. Tonight it was well received selling for £1,744,000, against an estimate of £500,000-700,000. This was one of a series of works that Pissarro painted of the Jardin des Tuileries.
Kees Van Dongen's (1877-1968) Les Escarpins mauves sold for a healthy £1,576,000, an exceptional price for a post First World War work by the artist, and more than double its pre-sale estimate of £750,000-1,000,000.
The Surrealist sale included five works from the collection of Jean-Yves Mock, which together totalled £1,050,400. Among them was Man Ray's (1890-1976) original Pêchage, 1969, illustrated on the front cover of Roland Penrose's influential 1975 monograph on the artist, which sold for £105,600, against a pre-sale estimate of £40,000-60,000. There were also three important works by René Magritte (1898-1967), including the keenly contested gouache Le Chef d'uvre, which fetched £612,800, comfortably surpassing its pre-sale estimate of £300,000-400,000. The sales of these works follows on from yesterday's successful white glove sale at Sotheby's Olympia which raised £1,634,480.
Other notable successes in the Surrealist Art sale included Magritte's Le Monde Visible, which fetched £1,184,000. It last appeared at auction in 1984 when it made $190,000 (hammer) at Sotheby's New York.