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Christie’s Impressionist and Modern Art auction gets a good start on 20th Century Week

Christie’s annual Spring Impressionist and Modern Art Sale is in May.

Spring 2017 Impressionist and Modern Art Sale

Christie’s Spring 2017 Impressionist and Modern Art auction is Monday, May 15, 2017 at 7pm.

The sale is led by a famous Picasso portrait of Dora Maar Femme assise, robe bleue (Seated woman, blue dress); and one of Constantin Brancusi’s La muse endormie sculptures.

Femme assise, robe bleue

One of the things Picasso is famous for is portraits of his mistresses. Each says something about both the woman and the artist himself.

Dora Maar was one of Picasso’s mistresses from 1936 until 1944. She was a Surrealist photographer. Picasso liked her because she was smart and could talk about art. He painted this portrait on his birthday in 1939. It shows a very different mood from another famous portrait of Maar, The Weeping Woman of 1937.

This painting has an unusual back story as well. Art dealer Paul Rosenberg purchased the painting in 1940. As the Nazi storm was gathering in Europe, he put his collection in storage.

The Nazi’s found the collection and put it on a train to be taken away. The resistance warned the Allies not to bomb the valuable train. While it was being held on a side track, a force that included the dealer’s son captured the train and recovered the paintings. Imagine his surprise to find paintings he grew up with on this train.

The paintings were returned to the family after the war. The 1965 movie The Train, starring Burt Lancaster and Jeanne Moreau is based on the story.

Lot 12 A is estimated to sell for $35,000,000 – $50,000,000.

La muse endormie

Constantin Brancusi "La Muse Endormie"

Constantin Brancusi’s “La Muse Endormie” (1913)
La muse endormie is an important sculpture by Romanian artist Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957). He first sculpted “The Sleeping Muse” in white marble in 1909-1910. The simple, unsupported head marked a shift in the language of sculpture.

The piece is one of six bronzes. Brancusi carefully worked the patina of each. This is one of only two of the pieces that remain outside of museum hands. There is one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and two at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Lot 32 A is estimated to sell for $25,000,000 – $35,000,000

Additional Latin highlights include works by:

Georges Braque, Le Guéridon
Pablo Picasso, Femme assise dans un fauteuil
Pierre-Auguste Renoir La tasse de thé ou Le jardin
Fernand Léger, Nature morte aux éléments mécaniques
Claude Monet, La route de Vétheuil, effet de neige
Paul Gauguin, Bretonne et oie au bord de l’eau

To register to bid, visit www.christies.com

Sale Results

20th Century Week got off to a good start at Christie’s. Its Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale realized $289.1 million in sales, a 104% increase over May 2016.

Constantin Brancusi’s La muse endormie (1913) sold for $57,367,500, the top price of the night, after a dramatic bidding contest. It well exceeded the $25,000,000-$35,000,000 estimate.

Pablo Picasso’s Femme assise robe bleue (1939) sold for $45,047,500. It appreciated 55% in just six years.

The Head of Sale commented that the best results were coming from works that had not been on the market for many years.

Images courtesy of Christies

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