1886-1887 The Tilted Plate
2019 SOLD for £ 21M including premium
Painting is the only possible medium for his interpretation of life, because it allows color harmonies. The laws of the perspective itself are not untouchable. Impressionism does not go far enough.
Emile Zola has certainly appreciated the depth of Cézanne's theories and his difficulties in sharing them. In his novel L'Oeuvre published in 1886, he stages a misunderstood painter whose idealistic passion leads to failure. A later letter from Cézanne to Zola, recently found, contradicts the legend of their breakup. Cézanne was obviously too soaked in his research to be indignant at the concern of his college friend.
On February 27 in London, Christie's sells as lot 6 a still life of fruit, oil on canvas 38 x 46 cm painted in the mid 1880s. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The theme is modest and the composition is minimalist. On a rustic table without any ornament in a slightly plunging perspective, a plate contains five peaches and a pear. Another pear is placed to the right of the plate. The subtle variety of fruit color is not however the main subject of this experiment.
If the plate is placed flat on the table, its perfect circle is impossible. It is therefore inclined, at the limit of the imbalance of the fruit pyramid. Cézanne knew that realism does not exist in painting : nature is too complex to be imitated and the surface of the canvas does not allow an illusion of real space.
A probably later work gives the key to the enigma : now viewed in profile, the plate is actually tilted. This 28 x 40 cm oil on canvas was sold for $ 8.1M including premium by Sotheby's on November 14, 2017.
Many years later, Matisse tries an axiom according to which Cézanne was too perfectionist to make a mistake. He thus discovers the de-construction of perspective in the most seemingly simplistic still lifes by Cézanne, an artist too far ahead of his own time.
Highlights from the most important single owner collection of Impressionist and Modern art offered for sale in London for a decade, featuring works by #Monet, #Renoir, #Cézanne, #VanGogh, #Bonnard, #Matisse and more... https://t.co/PZ3OpFMU7M pic.twitter.com/dhAJXW9NF5— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) November 27, 2018
1886-1887 La Blanchisseuse by Toulouse-Lautrec
2005 SOLD for $ 22.4M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Toulouse-Lautrec follows his master when he sets up his workshop near Montmartre. The young provincial was overwhelmed by the social difference between his family and the humble and hard-working life of the popular classes. Cormon teaches him to look at people with sensitivity.
Lautrec soon went to the cabarets of Montmartre. The fashion is for the chansons réalistes in which innocent girls in later teen age are watched over by pimps to the delight of the bourgeois who come to debase themselves in this world of bad life, among thieves and rapins.
In the fashion for girls is the dyed red hair, with abundant buns. The best known example will be the prostitute Casque d'Or, a few years later. In 1885 Lautrec wrote to his mother that he painted the portrait of a woman whose hair was an absolute gold.
He makes several sketches of his new model. Although very young, she had previously posed for Alfred Stevens. Her name is Carmen. Her face is very recognizable with her upturned nose, square jawline, and the locks falling in front of her eyes.
Lautrec reuses these portraits to feature "la Rousse" in scenes typical of the Parisian lower life. La Blanchisseuse, oil on canvas 96 x 75 cm painted in 1886 or 1887, was sold for $ 22.4M including premium by Christie's on November 1, 2005, lot 17. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The theme is not innocent. Working in the heat, the young women are dressed in light blouses that they know how to take off to earn a little money. They have a reputation as prostitutes. Under the Second Empire, they were the main models of the erotic photographs banned by the morality police.
1887 The Expression of the French Countryside
2014 SOLD for $ 20.3M including premium
On November 4 in New York, Sotheby's sells an oil on canvas 73 x 92 cm painted in 1887 entitled Sous les peupliers (under the poplars), lot 28 estimated $ 12M.
The control of his art is total. His impressionist manner is reinforced by a thick paint and the colors, as always, are beautiful and expressive. A similar view is held at the Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart. They are identified as the rural landscape in Limetz, not so far from Giverny.
This is in some way the culmination of the landscape art in France. Monet believes that his maturity is total. In the next year, he will be disappointed when the light and the wind of the Mediterranea will be too violent for his technique of outdoor painting. A new phase begins for him with more systematic studies of tiny variations of light in structured series: Haystacks in 1890 soon followed by the Poplars and by the Rouen Cathedrals.
1887 Sunset through the Poplar Trees
2015 SOLD for £ 10.8M including premium
1887 marks the culmination of this slow evolution, including improvements in the texture of his paint. An oil on canvas entitled Sous les peupliers was sold for $ 20.3M including premium by Sotheby's on November 4, 2014.
On February 3 in London, Sotheby's sells Peupliers à Giverny, lot 21 estimated £ 9M. This oil on canvas 74 x 93 cm belonged since 1951 to the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
The composition of this picture is powerful. Its theme is the sunset of the early autumn in high treetops where the light turns into fire whirls. Through the trees, the clear sky and the fields offer sumptuous colors. The horizon was not useful for this exceptional landscape : it is hidden by the leaves.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
1887 Windmills on the Butte
2021 SOLD for € 13M including premium
The atmosphere is both rustic and festive. The Butte rises to 130 m above sea level, without shelter from the wind. The mills are picturesque. In the most famous of them, the Debray family has been producing high quality flour since 1809, for which this already old mill is named Moulin de la Galette or Moulin Blute Fin. The enclosure is transformed into an entertainment area for drinking and dancing. The Moulin à Poivre is built therein in 1865.
The Dutch artist is keen of windmills. He loves the pure air of the hills and will not fail, two years later, to start his exploration of Arles with Montmajour. His style changes. His paintings of the Montmartre mills have bright and cheerful colors. His scenes populated by quiet figures are post-impressionist, with soft lines and stylized faces. They will be copiously imitated by Utrillo.
On March 25 in Paris, Sotheby's sells a view of Montmartre painted by Vincent at the end of the 1887 winter. The scene is centered on the Moulin à Poivre in close-up, while another mill is visible far away on the horizon.
This 46 x 63 cm oil on canvas had been in a private collection for a century, out of sight of public and experts. Recently rediscovered by the commissaires-priseurs Mirabaud-Mercier, it is estimated € 5M, lot 6. The image is shared by Wikimedia. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
1887 Renoir back to Classics
2014 SOLD 11.4 M$ including premium
Renoir exhibits his new style in 1887 with Les Grandes Baigneuses, oil on canvas 115 x 170 cm. The composition is neat, with a good balance between these happy women. The contours of their nude forms are a rejection of Impressionism by one of its main initiators. Failure is scathing.
On May 6 in New York, Christie's sells an oil on canvas of the same period, and especially illustrating the same desire of the artist to radically change his style. His work is done at that time in the studio, even for outdoor scenes.
In a meadow, five young women are playing rackets. They are dressed, but their attentive communication is similar to the Grandes Baigneuses. The figures are defined in sharp lines, leaving a reminder of impressionism only in the atmosphere of the surroundings.
This oil on canvas 55 x 65 cm is estimated $ 10M, lot 10 in the catalog.
POST SALE COMMENT
This interesting painting from a transition period of the artist was sold for $ 11.4 million including premium.
1887 Gauguin in Martinique
2019 SOLD for $ 8.2M including premium
Gauguin has given up his job as a stockbroker since 1884, but art does not compensate. His financial and family difficulties become critical. He believes finding an Eldorado through the campaign of exalting and deceptive advertisements for the construction of the Panama Canal by the French. With Charles Laval, a young artist whom he had met at Pont-Aven, he leaves in April 1887 for Panama.
Panama does not offer wealth to its workers but rather malaria and yellow fever. The two adventurers are repatriated in June 1887 by a French boat which they leave in Martinique.
In the tropics, Gauguin finds the atmosphere of primordial society that he did not feel enough in Brittany. Due to racial differences, he is no longer handicapped by his brawling and quarreling temperament. He paints the bright colors of the landscape and the rural life.
On May 14 in New York, Sotheby's sells Chemin sous les palmiers, oil on canvas 89 x 60 cm, lot 18 estimated $ 6M. The tweet below is the detail of the top of the image.
After living for five months in a hut in Martinique, Gauguin brings back in France his finally retrieved enthusiasm, along with dysentery and marsh fever. He had developed in the Antilles a theory of painting from imagination that he will try in vain to inculcate to van Gogh.
Painted in 1887, 'Chemin sous les palmiers' encapsulates Paul Gauguin's life-long interest in depicting the unfamiliar. Discover this highlight from #SothebysImpMod Evening Sale on 14 May in #NYC, on offer from The Levy Family Collection: https://t.co/O6aU6VFdGC pic.twitter.com/iZw703xITN— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) April 26, 2019
1887 Vincent looking at the Seine River
2013 SOLD 6.7 MCHF including premium
The accession of Van Gogh to the artistic maturity begins with his assimilation of modern art. Paris is a great location for this project. He spent two years in that city, from February 1886.
He meets the Impressionists and appreciates the importance of color. He meets the pointillists and includes the possibility of new artistic languages. He has not forgotten the Japanese prints and their expressive treatment oflandscape.
Vincent used the flowers to vary and brighten the colors and then tried his hand to the landscape. On June 21 in Zurich, Koller sells an oil on canvas 55 x 46 cm executed outdoor in 1887. This view of the pont de Clichy (Clichy bridge) is estimated CHF 5M.
The banality of this peaceful subject is superseded by the sweet harmony of colors inspired by summer light : lemon yellow, azure blue and emerald green. The perspective is minimal but the shades of the reflections in the Seine are subtle. It seems that Vincent saw this painting as one of the most successful of his Parisian landscapes.
POST SALE COMMENT
This interesting but unusual painting was certainly not easy to sell. The result, CHF 5.7 million before fees, is very good.
1887 Clipper by Signac
2015 SOLD for $ 6.4M including premium by Sotheby's
1887 A Slender Body ready for Ballet
2013 SOLD 4.5 M£ including premium
The girls came for working. Before going on stage, they are waiting by lacing their shoes with manic gestures. When the show is over, they seek the suitable pose for relieving their physical exhaustion. In both cases, their slender and flexible bodies take a lanky attitude inconceivable for an older woman.
On 3 November 2008, Sotheby's sold $ 37M including premium a pastel, 59 x 64 cm, made circa 1879. The exhausted girl has not yet recovered the strength to change her dress. The pastel enables a color harmony of the flesh, of the tutu and of the huge bow tied behind her belt in the stereotypical dancing fashion of that time.
The girl who comes in 1887 in another pastel, 50 x 62 cm, is certainly the same person although the face is not visible. Seated, she is is leaning for catching her foot.
Degas was a great innovator in terms of the angles of his images. Here, he looks at the girl from above, in a surreal position that the artist could not hold in reality and demonstrates the high role of imagination in his art. The crushing anamorphic plans transform the young ballerina into a butterfly with symmetrical wings in the colors of shimmering silk.
This pastel on paper is estimated £ 3M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on February 5. Here is the link to the catalog. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
POST SALE COMMENT
The eccentric compositions of Degas pastels are extraordinary for their time.
The ballerina discussed above was sold for £ 4.5 million including premium.
In the same sale, a woman after bath painted a few years earlier was sold for £ 7.8 million including premium.
1887 The Conquistador of Tourism
2015 SOLD for $ 5.8M including premium
The masterpiece of the Flagler empire is undoubtedly the Ponce de Leon Hotel in St. Augustine, built in 1887 in an extravagant neo-Spanish style. The two towers were not used only for prestige but were the tanks that supplied the 540 rooms in running water. The handling of the wonderful electricity was entrusted to the hotel employees to avoid scaring the guests.
Art was not forgotten and the lavish murals of the rotunda contributed to the reputation of the Ponce de Leon. Workshops were accommodated in the property for the artists.
Martin Johnson Heade had always considered himself as an itinerant painter. Married at 64 in 1883, he sought an anchor in Florida. He was a specialist in flower painting often associated with birds, and of tropical scenery. He was also a landscapist in the American romantic tradition. He preferred marshes to mountains and his idealized views cannot be located.
Heade realized for Flagler two of the murals of the Ponce de Leon. One of them titled The Great Florida Sunset is huge, 138 x 244 cm. The glowing sky of twilight terminates the day above a scenery typical of the marshes and palm groves of Florida.
A. Alfred Taubman wisely bought this oil painting to decorate his own mansion in Palm Beach. It is estimated $ 7M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on November 18, lot 11.