Christie’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on Tuesday 2 February 2016 will present works by leading artists of the late 19th and 20th century. The sale includes 50 lots which trace the rich variety and breadth of revolutionary movements from the period, from Impressionism, to early Modernism, Cubism, Colourist works and Expressionism; presenting a selection of celebrated, museum quality works - many of which are coming to the market for the first time in generations - with attractive estimates at all price ranges. This sale opens a week of five Impressionist, Modern and Surreal art sales at Christie’s King Street and South Kensington. With estimates starting from £300 up to £10 million, the auctions present new and established collectors with a wealth of opportunities to acquire rare and seminal examples by masters of the period.
The Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale is led by a self-portrait by Egon Schiele painted when the artist reached creative maturity in 1909 (estimate: £6-8 million); one of Marc Chagall’s most romantic paintings of the 1920s, Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel (estimate: £4.8-6.8 million); the largest of a series of four works Paul Cézanne created at the home of legendary Impressionist collector Victor Chocquet (estimate: £4.5-6.5 million); Le moteur, 1918, which dates to one the most important periods of Fernand Léger’s career (estimate: £4-6 million); a still life by Pablo Picasso from 1937, painted on the eve of Guernica (estimate £4-6 million); a rare oil Chrysanthemum by Piet Mondrian (estimate: £1.6-2.4 million); and Bahnhof Königstein, 1916, a major painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner from the artist’s last truly expressionist period, from the collection of the industrial chemist Dr Carl Hagemann (estimate: £1.5-2 million).
Ferme en Normandie, été (Hattenville), 1882, by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) is being offered at auction for the first time in almost 20 years, having been acquired by the present owner in 1997 (estimate: £4.5-6.5 million). This is the largest of a series of four works that Cézanne created during a summer break at the home of his friend, the legendary impressionist collector Victor Chocquet, in Hattenville, Normandy. Chocquet, one of the first champions and earliest collectors of Impressionism, was also the first owner of this painting; it remained in his collection until his death. Painted at a time when Cézanne was reaching artistic maturity, this work exemplifies a crucial moment in the artist’s career, illustrating his move from Impressionism towards his own distinctive and highly influential ‘constructed’ style. Rather than a fleeting depiction of a transitory moment, this is a carefully considered and constructed composition, which transforms the landscape into a timeless, enduring image, qualities which lay at the very heart of Cézanne’s artistic practice. Constantly striving for the best means to capture the beauty, grandeur and structure of the world around him, Cézanne invented a whole new way of looking and painting nature, opening the door for a generation of subsequent artists.
Selbstbildnis mit gespreizten Fingern (Self-Portrait with Spread Fingers) by Egon Schiele (1890-1918) was painted in 1909, a breakthrough year when Schiele reached creative maturity (estimate: £6-8 million). Although only nineteen years old, Schiele’s prodigious talent had already asserted itself to the point where he had become recognised by Gustav Klimt among others, as one of the greatest hopes for the future of Austrian art. An important early work, this painting reveals Schiele already beginning to move beyond the dominant influence of his mentor Klimt towards a new, more existentially aware expressionist art. With its self-conscious depiction of the artist’s features emerging from a typical gold-ground Secessionist background this work was an announcement of Schiele’s arrival into the contemporary art world of Vienna - a new character taking the stage. Schiele’s first self-portrait oil made for public display, it is a clear statement of how Schiele saw himself as working ‘through’ or ‘by way’ of Klimt and the Seccession, towards a newer more transcendent style of his own. Previous sale: http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/AAA/AAA-4860121-details.aspx
Offered from the collection of the industrial chemist Dr Carl Hagemann, Bahnhof Königstein, 1916, is a major painting by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938) deriving from the artist’s very last truly expressionist period shortly before he left Germany for good, in 1917, to convalesce in Switzerland (estimate: £1.5-2 million). This is one of a rare and important group of paintings that Kirchner made in and of the landscape around Königstein in the Taunus region near Frankfurt, where he had been ordered to enter a sanatorium after being discharged from the army in September 1915. Bahnhof Königstein is one of the first of Kirchner’s paintings to have been bought by Carl Hagemann, an important friend, patron and life-long supporter of the artist and his work. Priced originally at 600 marks, this painting was the most highly priced oil that Kirchner sold to his new patron in 1916. A letter from Kirchner to Hagemann written in September 1916 reveals in what high regard Kirchner held this particular painting and how important Hagemann’s patronage was during this critical time of upheaval for the artist.
Dating from one of the most important periods of Fernand Léger’s (1881-1955) career, Le moteur was painted in May 1918, just months after the artist had resumed painting following his discharge from the army (estimate: £4-6 million). Taking as its subject a gleaming, multipartite, modern engine, Le moteur is one of the first of a group of visionary works that marks the beginning of Léger’s renowned ‘mechanical period’, which would come to define his art of the years following the First World War. Keen to embrace modernity in all its varied forms, Léger deified the machine during this period, using a fragmented, dynamic pictorial vocabulary with which to depict it. With its riotous explosion of bold colour, frenzied interlocking and overlapping forms and jubilant patterns and texture, Le moteur is a glorious example of this series of works: a vibrant emblem of the industrialised and modernised post-war era that so enthralled the artist.
Acquired over 30 years ago, Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) is one of the artist’s most romantic paintings of the 1920s, celebrating the love between the artist and his wife, Bella, as they entered a new phase of security and contentment in their lives (estimate: £4.8-6.8 million). Painted in 1928, the work features a double portrait of the couple as they tenderly embrace in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. Their daughter Ida floats through an open window, which acts as a fluid boundary between the interior and exterior world, as she delivers a bouquet of flowers to the pair. Around the figures, a panoramic view of Paris reveals the gaiety of the city in the 1920s. Executed during a period of professional prosperity and personal comfort, the painting celebrates the strength of the familial bond between Chagall, his wife and their daughter, and the joy they felt together, as a family, in the pulsating and dynamic city of Paris in the twenties. The artist’s renewed happiness is reflected in the vivid, radiant hues employed, introducing sparkling shades of violet, green, mauve, blue, red and yellow to the composition, to achieve a complex interplay of colours across the canvas.
Painted in oil, Chrysanthemum by Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), is a particularly rare example of the artist’s floral studies which were predominantly executed in watercolour, gouache, charcoal or pencil (estimate: £1.6-2.4 million). Hailed as one of the most pioneering artists in the development of nonrepresentational geometric abstraction, Mondrian also painted naturalistic flower paintings throughout his career, from as early as 1898 and continuing until 1938. Mondrian’s poetic and representational depiction of solitary flowers form a fascinating visual counterpart to his works of pure abstraction. Depicting one of Mondrian’s favourite flowers, Chrysanthemum is rendered with exquisite and delicate detail. For Mondrian, flowers not only provided an opportunity for the scrupulous observation of form, but with their symbolic iconography, also served as a means for the artist to explore a range of deeper spiritual concerns.
Nature morte by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) was painted in 1937 (estimate £4-6 million), on 26 April, the very day that the Basque town of Guernica was bombed, killing over a thousand people; an atrocity which fuelled Picasso’s outrage over war and inspired his iconic mural Guernica. An angular, sophisticated and poetic still life, the apparent whimsy of Nature morte, which only hints at Picasso’s anxieties of war, marks the end of an entire period of Picasso’s work before a change of direction that would leave its mark on the artist for a long time. Stars are glowing in the night sky, while in the foreground a pipe and book lie alongside a drink and a candelabra, hinting at the passing of an evening of solitary pleasures, both of the mind and of the body. Christie’s Impressionist, Modern and Surreal Evening sales in February 2016 will present a wealth of 9 works by Picasso, spanning almost every period of his oeuvre, from his Blue Period, to Analytical and Synthetic Cubism, Surrealism in the 1920s, alongside works from war period and later.