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 82.5 M$ before fees by Christie's
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 model was unlimited.
If we consider that the real subject is the painting itself and not the peaceful fruit, Cézanne's apples anticipate abstract art. It 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 in New York is both simple and bold. This oil on canvas 38 x 46 cm painted in 1889-1890 is estimated $ 25M. Here is the link to the catalog.
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.
POST SALE COMMENT
Cezanne's still lifes are the most remarkable modernist advances of their time. This painting was sold $ 42M including premium.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's :
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.
Discover ‘Renaissance man’ Osman Hamdy Bey, one of the most accomplished and revered cultural figures of his day, and the first Turkish artist to embrace fully the European style of painting and to use it to depict his own country: https://t.co/NH0IzntInN #SothebysMiddleEast— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) October 11, 2019
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 Bauernfeind in the Gate of Damascus Mosque
2008 SOLD 2.5 M£ including premium
At auction, his work culminates with a painting representing the Wailing Wall, sold 3 million £ fees included by Sotheby's in London on June 27, 2007.
This year, I take you again to London but at Christie's, who introduce at lot 28 on July 2 a painting of Damascus.
The scene is located very precisely in the gate of the Great Umayyad Mosque, the view being directed towards the outdoor flooded with sunlight. The whole is nicely animated, both inside the gate and outside. The details of the gate provide an excellent impression of luxury of architecture. A large religious building closes the perspective.
For this oil on panel of 121 x 97 cm, dated 1890, it is needed £ 1.5 million, which despite the example given above is a high price for this artist. The originality of the subject and the balance of the composition make it still a good chance of achieving this result. The prestige of the monument may also help.
In the same sale, a more traditional street scene in the Old City of Jerusalem is estimated 600 K £ (130 x 90 cm, lot 75).
POST SALE COMMENT
The result is excellent, and shows that fans of Orientalist paintings have good taste: £ 2.5 million charge included. The next works of this artist to enter auction should be analyzed carefully. Of course, few will have the quality of this scene of mosque, but the value of Bauernfeind has confirmed the trend brilliantly started only one year ago.
Here is the evidence found in the same sale: the old street in Jerusalem, which I also mentioned, was sold £ 1.05 million fee included.
1890 The Silver Inflation
2014 SOLD 3.3 M$ including premium
In 1890, faced with a glut of silver, the U.S. government had also to address the parity between silver and gold. The decision is known as the Sherman Silver Purchase Act against the wishes of Senator Sherman, the best federal financial official of his time, who was not supporting this operation.
The government buys silver in huge quantities, and pays with a new type of bill named the Treasury Note which can be be repaid either in gold coins or in silver coins. They naively believed that this provision of liquidity would encourage consumerism. The opposite effect, however, was immediate. Due to lack of confidence in maintaining the value of the federal silver, holders of Treasury Notes rushed to gold.
In 1893, fearing a financial disaster, the Sherman Act is repealed. The Treasury Notes are redeemed. The big denominations were obviously too expensive to be kept in collections.
The $ 1000 Treasury notes became the rarest units of federal money. The Friedberg guide assigns them with the reference Fr.379, divided in two 1890 variants Fr.379a and b, and one variant Fr.379c of the following year. The alignment of the three opulent oval 0 has provided to this design the nickname Grand Watermelon.
The two rarest notes entered together in 2006 in the Greensboro collection by a private transaction organized by Heritage. Each of them is unique in private hands in its variant.
The 379c, graded Extremely Fine 45 by PCGS, was sold for $ 2.6 million including premium by Heritage on 26 April 2013.
The 379b, dating from the very year of the Sherman Act, is the most prestigious although in a slightly lower state graded Extremely Fine 40 by PCGS. It is estimated in excess of $ 2M for sale by Heritage in Orlando on January 10. Here is the link to the catalog.
Two 379a are in private hands. One of them, graded Apparent Extremely Fine 45 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.53 million by Heritage on April 26, 2013. The other unit was sold for $ 1.1 million including premium in October 2005 by Lyn Knight, becoming the first note to break the million dollars at auction.
POST SALE COMMENT
This specimen of Grand Watermelon is the undisputed star of US paper currency. It was sold for $ 3.3 million including premium.
Please watch the video shared by Heritage :
1890 Landscapes in the Far West
2011 SOLD 2.15 M$ including premium
The sales of Scottsdale Art Auction are held in early spring. On April 2, a rocky landscape in Wyoming made with beautiful colors by Thomas Moran was sold $ 4.1 million including premium. We will not fail to inform you in due time about the next sale, already scheduled for March 31, 2012 in Scottsdale AZ.
Another auction house is Coeur d'Alene Art Auction. In their next sale, on July 23 in Reno NV, the featured lot is also a landscape, estimated $ 1.5 M.
In this oil on canvas, 135 x 207 cm, made by Albert Bierstadt in 1890, the majestic Mount Rainier dominates the valley where the river flows. The state of Washington had been admitted the previous year in the Union, a sure sign of the great development of the region at that time.
POST SALE COMMENT
Good result: $ 1.9 million hammer, in the range of the estimates.
This painting is illustrated in the article shared by ARTINFO before the sale.
1890 The Season of the Watermelons
2018 SOLD for $ 2.04M including premium
Many States do not have gold. The dollar is too expensive for them and they expect an inflation to pay their debts. The government reacts by buying huge amounts of silver bullion paid from 1878 with Silver Certificates of Deposit that are redeemable in silver coins.
Silver still does not appeal the users. In 1889 the federal reserves of silver coins reached $ 283 million. They had to find something else. Once again the remedy will be worse than the disease. The Silver Purchase Act of July 14, 1890 doubles the volume of silver purchased by the government while authorizing its payment by a new bill named Treasury Note or Coin Note, redeemable in coins without stipulating the metal.
Speculators rush to sell their silver bullion for this paper which they immediately exchange for gold coins. In the year 1890 the price of silver per ounce fell from $ 1.16 to $ 0.69. The increasingly severe crisis will lead to the catastrophic depression of 1893.
The Treasury Notes are issued in seven denominations in 1890, to which the $ 50 will be added in the following year. The Treasury wants to do too well. For the two largest denominations, $ 100 and $ 1000, the ornamental sharpness of the back is intended to discourage counterfeiting. With this intricacy, they become uneasy to inspect with a risk of no longer discriminating between real and fake.
The numbers 0 of these two denominations are huge and ugly. The $ 100 and $ 1000 are pejoratively nicknamed Watermelon and Grand Watermelon. The government understands its design blunders and creates in 1891 a series with new backs without the 'watermelons', which will be just as ephemeral : the production of Treasury Notes ceases after the series of 1891.
Seven $ 1000 Grand Watermelons survive, split into two variants. Three are in private hands. The top ranked of the seven units, graded About New 50 by PCGS, was sold for $ 1.1M including premium by Lyn Knight in October 2005. It is estimated $ 1.25M by Stack's Bowers in Baltimore on October 25, lot 3042. The unique example in private hands of the second variant was sold for $ 3,3M including premium by Heritage on January 10, 2014.
1890 The Metamorphoses of Rodin
2011 SOLD for € 720K including premium
In his quest for the expression of an extreme sensuality, Rodin observes the most beautiful bodies, naked and muscular in all the contortions of gymnastics. L'Age d'airain, circa 1877, is a standing man. Le Torse d'Adèle, circa 1882, is a woman reclining on her very arched back.
This unprecedented approach in the history of sculpture brings him in 1880 the commission by the Beaux-Arts for a monumental door intended for a future Musée des Arts Décoratifs. He will work tirelessly on this project, with Dante's Inferno as the thread line. He continually adds and removes themes, and has bronzes and marbles made of his figures.
Thus L'Eternel Printemps, one of his most famous groups, is disqualified for the Porte when Rodin comes to consider that this couple engaged in a torrid embrace is not tragic.
Designed in 1887, La Faunesse, also called Satyresse, has an undisputed place in the Porte. She is on her knees with her feet crossed behind. The position of the hands in parallel between the shoulder blades allows to arch the slim body, like a straightened version of Adèle's torso.
Baudelaire had considered Venus as the ultimate avatar of diablesses, faunesses and satyresses. Rodin's Faunesse à genoux has a perfect human body but the bestial snout of a goat, waiting without restraint for the moment of carnal sin. Aware of this brutality which is perfectly suited for his Hell, the artist prepares around 1890 two soft versions with a human head, Le Réveil and La Toilette de Venus.
Rodin dedicated to his friend Puvis de Chavannes a copy in white Carrara marble of the Faunesse à genoux. Although this sculpture is not explicitly identified in the letters between the two artists, it is probably the subject of an acknowledgement sent by Puvis de Chavannes to Rodin in August 1890.
This 54 cm high marble was sold for € 720K including premium by Cornette de Saint Cyr on July 6, 2011, lot 23. I narrated it in this column before the sale. It is estimated £ 1M for sale by Christie's in London on February 5, lot 21.