1890 Between Harvest and Snow
2019 SOLD for $ 110M including premium
Monet loves this theme that is typical of country life without the need to add humans or birds. He begins with five landscapes in which two haystacks are distant from each other.
According to the sequence established by Wildenstein, the next sub-series is composed of two oil paintings on canvas 73 x 93 cm executed during the autumn of 1890. The alignment of two haystacks leads to the tall trees on the horizon, against the light in the last rays of sunset. For the first time the rest of the image is minimized. The predominance of the expression of colors over theme and form opens the way to modern art.
The second of these pictures, W1273, goes even further by managing to avoid the shadows of the two stacks. All that remains is the light that plays with the contours of stacks and trees and reveals the shimmering colors of the field. It was dated 1891 by the artist, certainly by reference to the year of the first public exhibition of the series, in the gallery of Durand-Ruel.
W1273 will be sold by Sotheby's in New York on May 14, lot 8. The March 15 press release announces an estimate in excess of $ 55M. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
The deep nature of a landscape can no longer be expressed by a single snapshot. In this series which ends in January 1891 and totals 25 paintings, Monet has captured 25 moments of light of a wide variety : morning, evening, full sun, snow, mist. In the last pictures the color also comes to sublimate the perspective with the reduction of the theme to a single haystack. Also taken at sunset, W1290 was sold for $ 81M including premium by Christie's on November 16, 2016.
An enduring symbol of Impressionism from Claude Monet's iconic Haystacks series will lead an important private collection of 8 Impressionist works on offer in #SothebysImpMod Evening Sale on 14 May in #NYC. Learn more: https://t.co/B4xVl8QWFA pic.twitter.com/SMDorfOowE— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) March 15, 2019
1890 Portrait du Dr Gachet by Van Gogh
1990 SOLD for 82.5 M$ including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2020
Gachet, 62, is a doctor, a psychiatrist and a friend of the artists. The subject of his doctoral thesis had been a study on melancholy. He advised several members of the Impressionist group on their health problems and had attempted to assist the engraver Charles Méryon in the final phase of his internment.
Vincent is surprised by their first meeting, during which he considers that Gachet is crazier than him. However, the doctor is skillful : in two days he gains the confidence of this hypersensitive artist.
For his art, Vincent seeks to express the deepest psychological aspects. He is still and always passionate about the examples of his predecessors, to better overcome them. He admires the expression of madness in the imaginary portrait by Delacroix of the poet Torquato Tasso in the madhouse of Ferrara.
The Portrait of Dr Gachet is an oil on canvas 67 x 56 cm painted in June 1890. Vincent commented on this work in a letter to his sister. He wanted to display the melancholy of his new friend while recognizing that his expression can be considered a grimace. He sums up his qualities in four words : Sad but gentle and yet clear and intelligent.
Gachet has his head resting on his right hand, allowing a diagonal composition of great expressive force. The face is drawn with the hard lines of the best works of Vincent. On the table, two bright yellow books balance the composition. A branch of digitalis, a medicinal herb, symbolizes Gachet's main activity.
The Portrait of Dr Gachet was sold for $ 82.5M including premium by Christie's on May 15, 1990. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1890 Wild Flowers for Dr Gachet
2014 SOLD for $ 62M including premium
In May 1890 Vincent moved into a room at the local inn in Auvers. He did not have a studio and regularly attended the home of Gachet, a friend of the Impressionists and Cézanne.
Since he is sick, Vincent is terrorized by the idea of failure and by the risk of a new crisis of dementia. With the energy of despair, he gives a new impetus to his old ambition to become the best painter of all time, the only one capable of a synthesis of all genres. Gachet has a painting by Cézanne showing a bouquet of flowers. Vincent wants to do better.
Spring brings forth the flowers into the fields. On November 4 in New York, Sotheby's sells an oil on canvas 66 x 50 cm painted by Vincent on 16 and 17 June 1890, lot 17 estimated $ 30M. Executed in the clear intention to thank Gachet for his help, this artwork shows a vase filled with daisies and poppies.
The composition is powerful and the colors are gorgeous, dominated in the center by the fiery red poppies. The groups of flowers shine like some characters within the ultimate tragedy of Vincent.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's :
1889-1890 Cézanne playing with Apples
2013 SOLD 42 M$ including premium
Cézanne plays with apples like an infant with cubes. Fruits are grouped within small uneven piles in which their variety of colors brings an additional appeal. Sometimes a group is interrupted by the frame as if the row of fruit was unlimited.
If we consider that the real subject is the painting itself and not the appealing fruit, Cézanne's apples anticipate abstract art. His still life puzzles the viewer by its original composition, as if it tried to tell a story or to evoke a feeling, like Kandinsky and Miro later. Each individual element is however realistic like an image by Chardin.
The group of apples for sale at Sotheby's on May 7, 2013 is both simple and bold. This oil on canvas 38 x 46 cm painted in 1889-1890 was sold for $ 42M from a lower estimate of $ 25M, lot 7. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Sold for $ 60M including premium at Sotheby's on May 10, 1999, another composition, 60 x 73 cm, painted four years later is more ambitious. The folds of the white tablecloth generate a complex interplay of fruit, the pitcher is the referee and the curtain states that the still lifes of Cézanne are indeed dramas.
1888-1890 Pommes et Poires by Cézanne
2021 SOLD for $ 20M by Sotheby's
This oil on canvas 38 x 46 cm is by its composition a twin painting of Les Pommes, a still life of same format and period sold for $ 42M by Sotheby's on May 7, 2013, also with a lower estimate of $ 25M.
Both arrangements are made on the top of the same chest, the same or very similar as the furniture shown in Cézanne's still life in Paris more than ten years earlier. The replacement by pears of a group of apples may result from a desire to vary the colors.
The major difference is that Pommes et Poires occupy a delimited space while in Les Pommes two apples on the right edge call for an unlimited raw of fruit, anticipating the color escapes of Mondrian.
No timeline can be defined within the middle format series of still lifes of the later 1880s. In this time of prevailing experimentation, it is indeed probable that Les Pommes and Pommes et Poires were painted in parallel.
#AuctionUpdate: A rare example of Paul Cézanne’s quintessential still lifes of this caliber remaining in private hands, 'Nature morte: pommes et poires' achieves $20 million. The work last sold at auction at Sotheby’s NY for $8.7 million in November 2003. pic.twitter.com/S5lGB94w7Z— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 13, 2021
1890 Nature Morte by Cézanne
2017 SOLD for $ 8.1M by Sotheby's
On November 14, 2017, Sotheby's sold for $ 8.1M a Nature Morte, oil on canvas 28 x 40 cm painted ca 1890, lot 27.
On the right side of the table, a fruit is raised over four fruits of which one of them is hidden behind the others. Such an arrangement is frequent in Cézanne's still-lifes. The left side is more original : a single fruit is centered on the usual plate whose tilting is viewed in profile.
This painting thus reveals that some distorsions otherwise impossible to understand in previous pictures are indeed due to a tilting prepared by the artist : the drawing of the plate is circular instead on the logical oval of its perspective when it is laid flat on the table. An example of that illusion is a painting made ca 1887, sold for £ 21M by Christie's on February 27, 2019.
I guess that very few observers were able to perceive in period the geometrical subtlety of Cézanne's fruit still-lifes. It may also explain why Picasso was so keen to consider Cézanne as the founding father of modern art, inviting to another construction of the forms. Cézanne also influenced Matisse, Gris and Braque.
1890 Better than Cézanne
2020 SOLD for $ 16M including premium
Vincent is euphoric, until the return of his psychiatric disorders at the end of July. His creativity is at its peak. Benefiting from all his research in Arles and Saint-Rémy, he fulfils his mad dream of being the best painter in the world. He knows that he will never be able to stop time, and paints an average of one canvas per day. He works too fast and can no longer describe all his creativity in his letters to Theo.
Gachet owned two paintings of bouquets made by Cézanne in 1873. One of the bouquets is placed on a round table in a slightly plunging view, an early example of Cézanne's passion for reinterpreting perspectives. A backdrop adjoins the contours of the table.
Vincent painted an oil on canvas inspired by this bouquet at an undetermined date. He replaces the Delft vase with a transparent and shiny glass. The flowers take on the vivid colors from his experiences with Gauguin at the Maison Jaune. The concave background, which occupies the entire width of the image, is iridescent like a reflection of the blue sky and possibly the bouquet.
This oil on canvas 41 x 33 cm was sold for $ 4.6M including premium by Sotheby's on May 10, 2000 and is estimated $ 14M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on October 28, lot 127. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
#AuctionUpdate: One of Vincent van Gogh’s finest flower paintings, ‘Fleurs dans un verre’ from 1890 sells for $16 million. Executed at the height of his artistic powers, the work is one of the final canvases that Van Gogh painted just days before his untimely death in July 1890. pic.twitter.com/BIBPX0Da7n— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) October 29, 2020
1890 Good Readings with Hamdy Bey
2019 SOLD for £ 4.6M including premium
Osman came to Paris in 1860 at the age of 17 to complete his law studies. When he returned to Constantinople in 1869 with a French fiancée, he was an Orientalist artist, former student of the late Boulanger and friend of Gérôme.
He learned from his French masters the techniques of realistic figuration that are based on photographs. He will remain throughout his life a great servant of the Ottoman Empire. He disdains the scenes of artificial harems and keenly observes the religious practices and the luxurious costumes of the Turkish elites.
Hamdy Bey introduces progressive elements in his art, with a great subtlety that does not impeach his splendid cultural and administrative career. He stages himself with his family, probably to avoid remonstrances from other models. He is the only figurative painter in Turkey and his works have not been exhibited during his lifetime in his country.
For example the Lady of Constantinople wears the Islamic veil, but it is so transparent that it does not hide anything of her pretty face. This 185 x 109 cm oil on canvas painted in 1881 was sold for £ 3.4M including premium by Sotheby's on May 30, 2008. A smaller version is for sale at Dorotheum on October 23, 2019. Both have been narrated in this column.
The reading of sacred books is one of Hamdy Bey's favorite themes. His characters are made appealing by their passions or their carelessness. This deep humanism that leads the social criticism up to a pleasant mockery has no equivalent in European orientalist art, even less in Ottoman art.
Painted in 1878 with the atmosphere from Topkapi, the picture of a young prince sprawled on a couch for better focusing on his reading passed at Sotheby's on April 24, 2012. A young woman fooling her boredom by looking at a big book, oil on canvas 41 x 51 cm painted in 1880, was sold for £ 6.7M including premium by Bonhams on September 26, 2019 over a lower estimate of £ 600K.
On October 22 in London, Sotheby's sells Koranic Instruction, oil on canvas 80 x 60 cm painted in 1890, lot 21 estimated £ 3M.
In the luxurious interior of the Bursa Green Mosque, the standing teacher reads the book aloud without looking at the disciple. This serious man forgot to take off his babouches. The student is a mature man holding a closed book with a jaded attitude. He is a self-portrait of the artist, from a photograph that has been identified.
1890 Timeless Damascus
2019 SOLD for £ 3.6M including premium
During his second trip which begins in 1884, Gustav is enthralled by the atmosphere in the streets of Damascus, a city that knew to resist modernism. The presence of this foreigner amuses the locals who nickname him Father Casserole for the shape of his hat.
Back to Munich, he paints a funny scene in which he is tightly surrounded by a circle of on-lookers. This 51 x 68 cm oil on panel was sold for $ 1.08M including premium by Christie's on April 19, 2006.
Now passionate about Islamic art, Gustav returns to Damascus in 1888 to admire the Umayyad Mosque which he had only glimpsed during his previous trip. This monument is one of the wonders of Islam. Its site previously used for an Aramaic temple, a Roman temple and a Christian cathedral has a repercussion both grandiose and mystical.
The difficulties begin. Son of a Jew converted to Christianity, the artist is not a Muslim. To make his drawings, he can reach the outside porticoes by bribing the guards but his access to the rooms is strictly forbidden.
Gustav rightly feels that the lively and colored activity around the facades richly decorated with marbles and mosaics will be the theme of his masterpieces. In 1890 in Munich, he paints two oils on panel showing in different angles the preparation of an outdoor celebration with the soothing shadow of the portico in the foreground. He thus brings a rare direct testimony by a European visitor concerning this site before it was ravaged by fire in 1893.
One of these paintings, 121 x 97 cm, was sold for £ 2.5M including premium by Christie's on July 2, 2008. The other one, 121 x 92 cm, will be sold as lot 10 by Christie's in London on April 29. The March 6 press release announces an estimate in the region of £ 3M. Please watch the short video shared by the auction house.
1890 Papier d'Artiste
2021 SOLD for $ 4.6M including premium
He rubs a black Conté graphite crayon on papier Michallet, varying the pressure to obtain all the shades of gray. Surfaces left blank provide a contrast in brightness with the rest of the image. The Michallet paper is a coarse-grained variation from the Ingres paper which had been designed to provide a good adhesion to charcoal.
In 1883, Seurat's very first participation in the Salon was a portrait of Aman-Jean executed in that technique. The brightness of the shirt collar makes forget that no lines are delimiting the figure in the half-light. Drawn in the same experimental phase around 1882, a Lady Holding a Bouquet in a halo of light, 31 x 24 cm, was sold by Sotheby's on November 10, 2014 for $ 5.3M including premium from a lower estimate of $ 2M.
It thus appears that Seurat had been the inventor of impressionist drawing before being the pioneer of post-impressionism. His famous practice of divisionism for the illusion of colors in a painting is indeed a consequence of his experiments about contrasts in black and white drawings.
On March 1 in New York, Christie's sells one of Seurat's latest drawings, made in 1890, lot 7 estimated $ 2.5M.
This 25 x 33 cm river scene is an excellent demonstrator of the application of Seurat's theories to complex scenery. The different shades of gray bring a subtle chiaroscuro effect amplified by the simplified silhouette of two women in the foreground. The bright focal point is a sail-shaped quadrilateral with curved side edges.
#AuctionUpdate Georges Seurat's 'La voile blanche' achieved USD 4,590,000. With its mysterious atmosphere, this work exemplifies the dramatic tenebrism that characterised #GeorgesSeurat's mature drawing style:https://t.co/HgLfWGfbLV pic.twitter.com/NVbots1MB8— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) March 1, 2021