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Montefiore Auctions will offer 177 lots of works by Israeli and international artists at Tel Aviv's Dan Hotel next Wednesday evening. The lots can be previewed at 36 Rehov Montefiore in Tel Aviv.
One of the top lots is Lesser Uri's lovely pastel on paper of a long line of taxis in postwar Berlin, in what is possibly the famous Unter der Linden (Under the Limes), the city's best known boulevard ($60,000-$80,000). A rather dull abstraction by Mordecai Ardon begins at $80,000, while a seascape by Marcel Janco begins at $45,000. An atypical watercolor landscape by Rembrandt van Rijn has an estimate of $20,000-$25,000. A collage by Kurt Schwitters begins at $15,000.
Many of the other lots are by Israelis from the earliest generation and have much more modest estimates. I liked the two watercolors by Nahum Gutman, one of a cafe in Tiberias, the other a lovely rendering of a girl partly hidden by a curtain and dated 1941 ($3,000-$4,000). An oil of the Mishkenot area in Jerusalem painted by Shmuel Charuvi and dated 1929 should easily top its best estimate of $4,000.
A little oil abstraction by Moishe Kupferman starts at only $2,000, and an oil by Lea Nikel at $15,000.
There is also a lovely little drawing of a girl reading by Jean-Louis Forain, who, let it be said, published a whole series of vicious anti-Semitic cartoons during the Dreyfus Case ($1,200-$1,600).
CHRISTIE'S WILL offer the most authoritative contemporary account of the execution of King Louis XVI of France at an auction of Valuable Printed Books and Manuscripts in London on June 7. The account was written by Charles Henri Sanson, the chief executioner of Paris during the French Revolution, and is believed to have passed though several generations of a private European family before resurfacing. It is expected to realize 80,000- 120,000.
On January 21, 1793, the French Republican government sent King Louis XVI to the guillotine. Stripped of all his titles and indicted under his family name as citoyen Louis Capet, he was guillotined by Sanson, who wrote a full account published in February 1793 to clarify the events.
Sanson recounts that the king arrived at the place of execution in a horse and carriage. After mounting the scaffold, he reluctantly offered his hands to be tied and asked if the drums would continue beating. Louis then turned to the crowd and exclaimed, "Peuple, je meurs innocent" [People, I die innocent]. Sanson's account continues by recording the last words of the former King of France: "Gentlemen, I am innocent of everything of which I am accused. I wish that my blood may be able to cement the happiness of the French."
Charles Henri Sanson (1740-1806) assumed the hereditary role of ex cuteur des hautes oeuvres de Paris in 1778 and witnessed the advent of the guillotine. It is claimed that he oversaw the execution of 2,918 people before passing the responsibility on to his son, Henri, in April 1793. The clearest evidence of his divided sentiments is revealed in the last paragraph of his letter to the Thermom tre du jour. Here he recalls the final moments before the blade fell on the neck of Louis XVI: "and to pay homage to the truth, he withstood all that with a composure and a steadiness that astonished us all. I remain very convinced that he had drawn this steadiness from the principles of religion, of which none appeared more deeply affected and persuaded than he."
King Louis XVI of France (1754-1793) was the third son of Dauphin Louis and Marie Jos phe of Saxony, and grandson and successor of King Louis XV. He married the Austrian archduchess Marie Antoinette in 1770 and was crowned King of France in 1774. A shy, dull and portly individual, he soon found himself facing revolution. His execution marked France's transition from a monarchy to a Republic.
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