13 janv. 2008

Auction tracking : Sotheby's and Christie's, Drouot, three minor artists, Greek art and Artcurial China


Let us start by discussing again the sale at Sotheby's on January 24 in New York, already mentioned in our Trackings. The third top price lot of this auction is a remarkable oil on panel by Cranach the Elder showing Phyllis and Aristotle, estimated $ 2.5 million. I wish for it a greater success than in December 2001, when it sold $ 2.4 million, including premium, in the same location (SOLD 3.6 M$ before fees). The sale at 800 K € of a pair of paintings by Pierre-Henri de Valenciennes on the Oedipus legend would be an unprecedented result for this artist (SOLD 881 K$ including fees). The painting by Francois-Hubert Drouais representing the children of the Duc de Bouillon had $ 1.1 million in January 1997 in the same location. It is now presented with a high estimate of $ 900 K, and is expected to reach that price, which is far above all other work by this artist (SOLD 1.2 M$ including fees).


The two biggest international groups are hunting for permanent major works by the great masters. They are the ones who make the market, and their credibility depends directly on the results of such sales. In this area, they compete on equal terms.

Thus, the man who climbs the ladder, Francis Bacon, which we have already pointed out for the painting which will be presented at Sotheby's London in February, is also the star of the sale at Christie's in London on February 6, this time with a triptych relating to a critical period of sentimental life of the artist. (SOLD 26.3 M£ premium included)

For other great masters, Christie's announced a Rothko for its sale of 13 May in New York, at an estimated $ 40 million thus far below the highest price paid for the artist. This time, it is a large size two-colour work. The motive with white center who had earned another Rothko the highest 2007 auction bid at $ 72.8 million including premium was more attractive, at least when comparing the two works in reproduction. But everyone knows that nothing matches actual inspection. (SOLD 50 M$ including fees). It is the policy of Christie's to push towards newcomers when some artists are beginning to become too scarce or too expensive. It is now the case of Adolph Gottlieb, a member of the New York School with Rothko. Christie's announces an important Gottlieb work at $ 2 million. (SOLD 6.5 M$ including fees).

A Portrait of Dora Maar by Picasso will be presented on February 5 at Sotheby's London. Its traceability is interesting : no less than the estate of Heinz Berggruen. Estimated at 6.5 million pounds, it's not a major work of the artist (SOLD 7.4 M£) and we may prefer a group of bathers at 2.5 million pounds. (SOLD 2.9 M£). In the same sale we wait with more curiosity the Grazing Horses by Franz Marc, a superb work at 6 million pounds (61x92 cm). (SOLD 12.3 M£). A portrait of Schokko with hat by Jawlensky was still since its last appearance on sale (Sotheby's New York, December 5, 2003) too much above the usual prices for this artist, and it is demanded even more today, 6.5 million £. (SOLD 9.4 M£). For £ 3 million, a large bronze statue of Moore seems at its fair price. (SOLD 3.7 M£). Other works for which more than 1 million £ are expected are signed by Monet (SOLD 4.2 M£ a winter landscape), Renoir (SOLD "La Loge" 7.4 M£), Kirchner (SOLD 4.8 M£), Sisley (SOLD 2.4 M£), Signac (SOLD 3.1 M£), Giacometti (SOLD a painting 5.6 M£), Redon (SOLD 2 M£), Degas (SOLD a drawing 4.9 M£), Cézanne (SOLD 2.1 M£), Matisse (SOLD a drawing 2.9 M£), Mondrian (SOLD 1.1 M£), Bonnard (SOLD 1.1 M£), Chagall (SOLD 1 M£), Pissarro (SOLD 2,4 M£), Nolde (SOLD 1,6 M£) and Beckmann (SOLD 636 K£).
(SOLD also a painting by Pechstein at 1.9 M£ and a painting by Macke at 1,4 M£)
(all the above prices include premium)

In the Christie's London sale on 23 January, there is a terrible £ 200 K watercolor by Delacroix (25x20 cm) depicting the fight of a lion and a tiger! (SOLD 311 K£ including premium). In the same sale, for £ 80 K, a genre scene of a Polish painter never auctioned in France, Ladislaus von Czachorski.(UNSOLD)

On February 4, in London, Christie's sells 8 works on paper by Schiele. Bloomberg, always well informed, said they are from the estate of a former associate of Ronald Lauder. The top lot of this set is a dramatic female nude seen from back, at 2 million pounds. It seems fair to its price, but one wonders, as for the seven other lots, why Lauder has not purchased them in a private sale. If this auction is not successful, the price for the Vienna school will collapse. (SOLD 2.5 M£ premium included ; five other drawings over 500 K£ : 2.9 M, 2 M, 2 M, 1.7 M and 860 K£, also premium included)


By Chayette & Cheval in a general sale on Jan. 30: a painting by Van Dongen (SOLD 335 K€ before fees),
several others by Leger. (SOLD 258, 137 et 122 K€ before fees, the highest of these prices on a 1932 painting from the "Objets dans l'espace" series).
These small-format works are not major but sympathetic. This is the first significant sale of the year at Drouot.

On 20 February, also at Drouot, Ader sells a painting by La Fresnaye representing a female nude (67x52 cm). The estimate is not yet available. This work is reminiscent of O'Conor; in my opinion, it could go to 100 K €. (SOLD 16.4 K€ before fees ; estimate was 8 K€). A curious Schneider was announced by the auction house for April 18. (SOLD 140 K€ before fees).

We have already discussed the Monet to be sold by EVE on March 15 at Drouot-Montaigne. (SOLD 510 K€ before fees). The Vuillard that accompanies it is now visible in the Gazette de l'Hotel Drouot (advertising, No. 1 page 53). The estimate of 300 K € given on the site Drouot Presse for this intimate subject (a child's lunch, 81x102 cm) seems very low, as for Monet. (SOLD 450 K€ before fees). Perhaps it is a habit of this house to rate too low, as they demonstrated in their sale of Russian art on December 19, where prices are fabulous compared with the estimate but not fabulous in relation to the market price.

At the beginning of the year the news from the auction world are rather dormant. It gives me the opportunity to announce three minor artists whose works are regularly presented by quantities: oil paintings by Willy Eisenschitz (SOLD a painting of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, 73x60 cm, 28 K€ before fees) and pastels by Pierre Deval (no remarkable result) in Dijon on January 27 to be auctioned by Sylvain Gautier, and works by Roland Chanco in Manosque on Feb. 2 by Jennifer Primpied-Rolland.(SOLD 21 K€ before fees : a painting on "Don Quichotte", 162x130 cm)

The modern Greek art wakes up, with significant auction results last year on Rallis, Fassianos, Spyropoulos. Sotheby's is preparing a sale to be held in London on April 17. The rise of Rallis was just confirmed as of 1 January at Honfleur Encheres, where a portrait of very small size (22x16,5 cm) was sold 30.5 K €. It is a sign: Rallis' Orientalist scenes of bigger size will reach great results.

A city that was not yet in our files: Shanghai. Artcurial China makes its first sale on January 20 in this place. Their auction is devoted to contemporary Chinese art, with artists to be discovered. (SOLD the most awaited lot of the sale, a big size self portrait of Chen Yifei with female beauties, for 24 M RMB premium included).

Refer also to earlier Trackings, the information contained therein shall not be repeated.

Pierre Tavlitzki for ArtHitParade