Christie’s Surrealism Sale Breaks The £100m Mark

Christie’s has held the first ever Surrealism sale to break the $100 million mark. Registered bidders came from 34 countries across 5 continents for the ‘Evening Sales of Impressionist and Modern Art and The Art of the Surreal’ that took place at Christie’s London on 4 February. It realised a combined total of £147,031,000/$222,751,965/€194,080,920, selling 88% by lot and 94% by value. The auctions had a combined pre-sale estimate of £92.8 million to £133.8 million. The top price was achieved by Joan Miró’s Painting (Women, Moon, Birds), which sold for £15,538,500/ $23,540,828/ €20,510,820 against an estimate of £4 million to £7 million. In total, 36 works of art sold for over £1 million / 45 for over $1 million.

Jay Vincze, International Director and Head of The Impressionist and Modern Art Department, Christie’s London: “We are very pleased with the strong results of this evening’s sales of Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist art which exceeded the top pre-sale estimate and welcomed registered bidders from 34 countries across 5 continents. The broad range of styles and periods of the works offered – many of which came to the market for the first time in generations – contributed to the extraordinary depth of bidding we witnessed. Pan Asian buyers continue to compete for the best works across 20th century avant-garde art, notably extending this season to Surrealist masters such as Magritte, Ernst and Dominguez. This is a strong start to the overall week of five sales for the category at Christie’s in London, which presents new and established collectors with opportunities across price levels.”

Olivier Camu, Deputy Chairman, Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie’s: “This is the first ever surrealist to sale to break the $100 million barrier; this is an exciting moment made possible by the inclusion of two important private European collections which also included Impressionist and Modern works. One of the collections had been hidden away for 50 years and had never come to auction. A great evening for Magritte and Miró: the sale set record prices for a Post-War Miró and a new record for a Magritte work on paper; all 9 Magrittes offered were 100% sold.”

Further leading highlights of the sale included a fine Impressionist selection with Vue sur L’Estaque et Le Château d’If, circa 1883-1885 by Paul Cézanne, which realised £13,522,500/$20,486,588/€17,849,700 (estimate: £8-12 million). This work was acquired in 1936 by Samuel Courtauld, founder of the illustrious Courtauld Gallery and Institute of Art in London. The auction marked the first time that Vue sur L’Estaque et Le Château d’If has appeared on the market in almost 80 years.

The auction included six works by Joan Miró, which provided the market with what is arguably the best group of works by the artist to be offered in a single sale. The selection achieved a combined total of £32,700,500/$58,700,932/€43,164,660, and was led by the auction’s top lot, Painting (Women, Moon, Birds), which sold for £15,538,500/ $23,540,828/ €20,510,820 (estimate: £4-7 million). The 1950 canvas was executed during the artist’s prodigious post-war period and comes from a Private European collection. It has never before appeared at auction.

Also highlighting the selection of works by Miró was his masterful L’oiseau au plumage déployé vole vers l’arbre argenté, 1953, which realised £9,154,500/$13,869,068/€12,083,940 (estimate: £7-9 million).

La Lampe, 1914, by Juan Gris fetched £4,562,500 /$6,912,188/ €6,022,500, (estimate: £2.5-3.5 million). This work is considered to be among the artist’s greatest contributions to Cubism, establishing Gris as a leading innovator of the revolutionary movement and placing him alongside Picasso and Braque. Christie’s set a new benchmark for the artist in February 2014 when Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux, 1915, sold for £34,802,500, setting a world record price for the artist at auction.

Femme de Venise V by Alberto Giacometti, which was offered from A Distinguished European Collection, realised £6,802,500/$10,305,788/€8,979,300 (estimate: £6-8 million). With an extraordinarily rich brown and green patina the bronze belongs to the renowned series of sculptures created for the Venice Biennale of the same year; it was conceived in 1956 and cast in the artist’s lifetime.

Amedeo Modigliani’s rare double portrait Les deux filles, 1918, sold for £7,586,500/ $11,493,548/ €10,014,180, it was offered from A Distinguished European Collection, (estimate: £6-8 million).

Leading the group of works offered from The Collection of Carl Hagemann, was one of the masterpieces of Die Brücke art, Erich Heckel’s Badende am Waldteich. The 1910 canvas realised £2,994,500/ $4,536,668 /€3,952,740 (estimate: £1.5-2 million), and set a world auction record for the artist.

Offered from a Private German Collection, Three Piece Reclining Figure No. 2 (Bridge Prop), a monumental sculpture by Henry Moore, is a powerful example of the artist’s unique ability to balance figuration and abstraction in a sculptural, three-dimensional form, it fetched £4,338,500/ $6,572,828/€ 5,726,820 (estimate:

£2-3 million). Conceived in 1963 and cast in an edition of six, other casts are housed in major museums and collections across the world.

Among the 9 works by René Magritte in the sale the top lot was Quand l’heure sonnera, which realised £4,338,500/ $6,572,828/ €5,726,820 (estimate: £2.5-3.5). The group offered constitutes the most extraordinary and extensive selection of works by the artist to come to the market since the landmark Harry Torczyner sale that took place in 1998 at Christie’s New York.

Presented at auction for the first time, having been acquired by A Private European Family almost 60 years ago, Jeune fille au cheval, 1927-1929, by Marc Chagall realised £5,906,500 / $8,948,348/ €7,796,580 (estimate: £2.2- 2.8 million).

Erich Heckel, Badende am Waldteich, 1910, oil on canvas.Price Realized: £2,194,500 / $4,536,668 / €3,952,740
a world record for the artist. Franz Marc, Springendes Pferd, 1913, gouache and watercolour on paper laid down on board Price Realised: £2,546,500 / $3,857,948 / €3,361,380 also a record.

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