Auctions: Medley of masterpieces

Autumn is my favorite time of the year. One of the reasons is the arrival on my desk of catalogs of the New York auction sales.

October 27, 2005 10:59
2 minute read.
picasso art 88

picasso art 88. (photo credit: )


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Autumn is my favorite time of the year. One of the reasons is the arrival on my desk of catalogs of the New York auction sales. The 61 lots in Part One of Sotheby's sale of impressionists and moderns on November 2 are almost mind-boggling. A dramatic Picasso watercolor of a nude painted in 1907 in the mode of the heralds of cubism has a provenance that begins with Kahnweiler; it was last sold at Knoedler, New York, in 1965. I've little doubt it will reach its top estimate of $4m. Also originally from Kahnweiler is a Picasso cubist oil from 1912. A good work, its top estimate is just $3.5m. Another oil and collage from 1913, a fine abstraction, came from the estate of the astute curator James Johnson Sweeney, whose New York home was a mini-museum. A lovely Picasso head of a boy made in ink in 1913 was sold some years ago by Marina Picasso; it should bring over $600,000. Berthe Morisot's famous 1873 oil Cache-Cache, of a mother playing with her daughter in a field, at first belonged to Manet and was last sold at Sotheby's five years ago. It should also reach $5m. Monet's The Japanese Bridge, a very painterly and near-abstract oil begun in his garden in 1918 and finished only five years later, has a top estimate of $2m. However, Monet's 1908 proto-modern oil of the Grand Canal in Venice is the top lot ($12m.-$16m.). A sombre Modigliani portrait of Manuel Humbert painted in 1916 may prove too forbidding to reach its top estimate of $6m. Kahnweiler had a great eye. He was the first to obtain the attractive Juan Gris Still Life with a Cigar Box, a mixed-media on paper collage, cunningly made in 1912. It will top $1m. Rated between $5m.-$7m. is a cheery Fernand Leger of two construction workers fitting a girder, 1950. As the Germans swarmed into France, Henri Matisse was comfortably settled down south, painting a series of ladies relaxing in a bright sitting room, his antidote to everything, including his wife. His Yellow Robe, 1941, has a healthy estimate of $9m.-$12m. A delightfully sketchy oil of a young woman in a straw hat, painted in 1902 by Cezanne, will be fought over and may well top $6m. I'd be happy to take home Jawlenksy's riveting 1912 portrait Sicilian Woman with a Green Shawl ($3m.-$4m.).

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