Christie’s Evening Sales of Impressionist and Modern Art and The Art of the Surreal, in London on 2 February, realised a combined total of €126,418,738, selling 75% by lot and 87% by value. In total, 27 works of art sold for over £1 million / 34 for over $1 million. Two artist records were achieved: for Georg Scholz and also for Peter Rose Pulham; a record for a work on paper by Salvador Dalí was also set. This evening marks the start of a week of Impressionist, Modern and Surreal art sales at Christie’s King Street and South Kensington with estimates that start at £300; the auctions form part of 20th Century at Christie’s (29 January to 12 February).
Jay Vincze, International Director and Head of The Impressionist and Modern Art Department, Christie’s London, and Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s: “We are pleased with the total realised this evening and with the high sell-through rate by value, accompanied by the solid sell-through rate by lot. We had strong interest across price levels and periods, from Paul Cezanne’s 1882 work ‘Ferme en Normandie, été (Hattenville)’, through to Joan Miró’s 1968 ‘Femme et oiseaux dans la nuit’. With registered bidders from 35 countries across 5 continents demonstrating the continued breadth of interest in the category, we continued to welcome strong participation from Asia, America and Europe.”
The top lot of the sale:
The cover lot of the sale, The Stolen Mirror by Max Ernst (1891-1976) sold for £7,642,500 / $10,997,558 / €10,072,815 (estimate: £7-10 million). A surrealist technical tour-de-force which is highly autobiographical and one of the artist’s finest works, this dream-like landscape was painted in 1941 at the pinnacle of Ernst’s oeuvre, when he was using the decalcomania technique of manipulating paint.
Further leading highlights of the evening include:
Selbstbildnis mit gespreizten Fingern (Self-Portrait with Spread Fingers), 1909, by Egon Schiele (1890-1918) sold for £7,250,500 / $10,433,470 / €9,556,159 (estimate: £6-8 million). An important early work, dating to a breakthrough year when Schiele reached creative maturity this painting reveals the artist already beginning to move beyond the dominant influence of his mentor Klimt towards a new, more existentially aware expressionist art.
Acquired over 30 years ago, Les mariés de la Tour Eiffel by Marc Chagall (1887-1985) realised £7,026,500/ $10,111,134 / €9,260,927 (estimate: £4.8-6.8 million). Painted in 1928, this 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.
A major large-scale painting of one of the artist’s favourite subjects, Femme et oiseaux dans la nuit (Woman and Birds in the Night), 1968, by Joan Miró (1893-1983) realised £5,794,500 / $8,338,286 / €7,637,151 (estimate: £3-5 million).
Fishermen in the Sun by Salvador Dalí sold for £1,178,500 / $1,695,862 / €1,553,263 (estimate: £700,000-£1,000,000). This is the finest of a unique, distinctive and very rare series of six relief-paintings made during this period in which the artist pioneered a completely new stylistic direction in his work; of these six paintings, four now reside in museums including the Fundación Gala-Salvador Dalí, Figueras and the Reina Sofía, Madrid.
For the overall top ten lots please see the separate accompanying document.
An overview press release for the sales of Impressionist, Modern and Surreal art sales will be available on 5 February following the Impressionist & Modern Art & Picasso Ceramics; a wrap-up press release for ‘20th Century at Christie’s’ will be available at the end of the Post-War and Contemporary Art auctions.
Georg Scholz (lot 11), Badische Kleinstadt bei Tage, £1,202,500 / $1,730,398 / €1,584,895 – previous record: $579,200 in 2003
Peter Rose Pulham (lot 110), Grisaille Figures I, £12,500 / $17,988 / €16,475 – previous record: £6,600 in 2006
Record for the Medium:
Salvador Dalí (lot 132) sold for £1,426,500 / $2,052,734 / €1,880,127 – previous record: $1,930,500 in 2011
Pre-sale estimate for the Evening of Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art: £83,650,000 – £123,310,000