Art on paper
See also : Top 10 Ancient drawing Italy Italy II George IV to Victoria Spain II Miro USA 2nd page Rothko 1957-70 Twombly Northern Europe Munch De Kooning Germany II Man and woman Groups Children Abstract art II Christianity Bird Music and dance Tabletop Horse
Chronology : 16th Century 1500-1519 1520-1539 19th Century 1870-1879 1890-1899 1892 1912 1940-1949 1948 1949 1953 1959 1969
1508-1511 Raphael and the Vatican Muse
2009 SOLD 29.1 M£ including premium
The author of the work we are discussing today is Raphael, the youngest of the three. For five centuries, all the art critics have praised him and noted the perfection of his paintings. His works were the subject of preparatory drawings very sharp, detailed and contrasted, at the exact size he wanted for the final motif.
Knowing the above, we understand better why some drawings are composite, for example hand and head . But the black chalk drawing 30.5 x 22.2 cm that Christie's will sell in London on December 8 is more important.
This pretty young woman head with flying hair in full frame is a preparation for a character of a Muse. It still have the perforations made by the artist to project the outline through the paper on the frescoes of the Vatican (1508 to 1511). It is estimated 12 million pounds.
This sale passionates the press. Here are the articles shared by Bloomberg, by Guardian and by Telegraph.
POST SALE COMMENT
We were here in the presence of a real historical work, because of the role played by this drawing in the process of decoration of the Vatican.
The result is also historical from the point of view of auction.
Sold £ 29.1 million including premium, it is the world record for a work on paper, and the second highest price for a work of ancient art, according to the information provided by Christie's.
#Raphael was #BornOnThisDay in 1483. In 2009, we offered an auxiliary sketch by #Raphael. The drawing, one of the best of Raphael’s surviving sketches set a #WorldAuctionRecord for a work on paper at £29,161,250 https://t.co/GDloR0vDil pic.twitter.com/pfYMt2hbGe— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) April 6, 2019
1520 Study for the Transfiguration
2012 SOLD 29.7 M£ including premium
Working directly for popes, cardinals and the powerful Medici family, Raphael manages a workshop of fifty artists whose production is prolific, but he himself designs the artworks, performs the preparation and executes the most important paintings.
The fashion of the time is for large-size frescoes and altar paintings prepared by innumerable drawings. Once the artist is satisfied with the composition, he pierces the latest drawings to transfer the lines into the final work. The pierced modello drawing of the head of a Vatican Muse was sold £ 29.1 million including premium at Christie's on December 8, 2009.
On December 5 in London, Sotheby's sells a drawing in black chalk, 38 x 28 cm, from the collection of the Dukes of Devonshire. It is illustrated in the article shared by Bloomberg.
This head of an apostle in meditation was made during the preparation of the Transfiguration, that huge oil on canvas, 405 x 278 cm, unfinished at the untimely death of the artist.
Completed by his studio, this monumental painting marks a turning point in Western art. The composition in two registers is bold. Above, Christ enters the light. The bright representation of the event is an iconographic challenge which anticipates Rembrandt.
Down on Earth, the apostles are attending a miracle by Christ, each one reacting in his own way. The care taken in the empathy between these men is announcing Mannerism and Baroque art.
The drawing for sale is not final and has not been pierced. This is a beautiful portrait of expression, with very nice thin line. It is estimated £ 10M.
POST SALE COMMENT
On December 8, 2009, a perforated drawing by Raphael showing the head of a Muse was sold £ 29.1 million including premium.
The head of a young apostle got an almost identical price: £ 29.7 million including premium. It is a great success for its owner, the Duke of Devonshire, possessor at Chatsworth of one of the best art collections in the world.
I invite you to play the videos shared by Sotheby's.
1873 The Legend of Edward Burne-Jones
2013 SOLD 14.8 M£ including premium
The two friends were more inspired by the post-Romantic poetry, including Robert Browning, than by figurative art but they early find a fertile source of inspiration by approaching the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood of Rossetti. Burne-Jones was then to discover the Italian primitives.
In their small circle, the skill of Burne-Jones is soon recognized, which commits him to try the major arts. In 1869, the Hesperides, showing three young women in an earthly paradise, is the first masterpiece of his new ambition.
From that date, Burne-Jones designed new romantic-medieval themes, but from 1870 to 1873 he devoted himself to a single painting entitled Love among the ruins, 96 x 152 cm. Two young people live their romance alone among ruins. They are idealized figures of man and woman. The brightly colored clothes and faces are probably influenced by Giorgione.
Love among the ruins is disfigured in 1893 when in loan for an exhibition. A zealous connoisseur puts a protective coating without appreciating that it is a watercolor and gouache on paper and not an oil. The work now considered as destroyed is so emotionally important for the artist that he executes almost immediately a replica in oil.
In 1898, a friend informs of a chemical formula through which Burne-Jones is able to recover almost entirely the original quality of the picture. He repairs a more damaged area with much excitement as you can imagine. He had saved his art but he died five weeks later.
This artwork that has all the qualities to become legendary is estimated £ 3M, for sale by Christie's in London on July 11.
POST SALE COMMENT
This artwork is the perfect example of pre-Raphaelite ideas. The price could hardly be predicted. It was sold for £ 14.8 million including premium.
1879 Danseuse au Repos, pastel by Degas
2008 SOLD 37 M$ including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
The "petits rats" are of great interest to him. These very young women do not have that need for sexual activity which masks the psychological authenticity of the prostitutes. Their lives are exhausting, in training and on stage, but the glory may reward their efforts.
Degas did not rule out any technique. In 1875 he was seduced by the use of pastel enhanced with gouache on paper. Unlike oil and watercolor, this opaque material very easily allows the many reworks desired by the artist throughout the execution of an artwork.
In 1880 at the 5th impressionist exhibition, Degas displays a pastel and gouache 46 x 67 cm titled Deux danseuses, probably made in 1879. After an exhausting exercise, two ballerinas in tutu are seated side by side on a bench. They ignore each other, only trying to catch their breath, the body leaning forward.
The artist painted in the same technique another work, 59 x 64 cm, titled Danseuse au repos. It was sold for $ 37M including premium by Sotheby's on November 3, 2008, lot 14.
The girl on the right side in Deux Danseuses is in exactly the same attitude as before, with the left hand massaging the painful ankle and the other hand resting on the other knee. With her frail limbs and her upturned nose, this young woman has a resemblance to Marie, the model of the sculpture titled Petite danseuse de quatorze ans made by Degas around the same time. In a bold composition as Degas liked, her partner is almost entirely out of field
1892 Studies for the Card Players
2015 SOLD for $ 21M including premium
He works as in the old days by executing preparatory sketches, with however a detail that changes everything. Nature can not be copied by the painter. The colors and contours express the atmosphere without requiring a preliminary drawing. This simple observation is one of the foundations of the figurative art of the following century.
In his exile away from the bourgeois society, Cézanne watches the peasants. They have differences : each one has his physical look, his straight or vaulted attitude, his behavior, his hat. The artist observes them individually before bringing them together in the group. The Joueurs de cartes are the deepest attempt by Cézanne to express, not reality, but life.
Cézanne made several preparatory watercolors for the Joueurs de cartes. Two of them, each showing one of the major players, have such a similar format and technique that they appear as pendants, certainly as the final study before one of the oils. They were made in 1892 or shortly after.
The watercolor of the smaller man, 47 x 30 cm, was sold for $ 19M including premium by Christie's on 1 May 2012. The character was identified : a gardener who worked for the artist.
The watercolor of the taller fellow, 48 x 32 cm, is estimated $ 18M for sale by Christie's in New York on November 9, lot 7A. A portrait of Père Alexandre was made by the same artist on the back of this paper.
The image below is limited to the upper part of the picture.
1892 Only One Card Player
2012 SOLD 19 M$ including premium
Yet the study of the implementation of this theme by Cézanne is an uninterrupted series of questionmarks.
The artist is somehow isolated from the world at his home in Aix-en-Provence. He is an experimenter of the colors. Shaded, they form flat areas that come together to build the figurative scene. He painted the Montagne Sainte-Victoire, and self-portraits, and still lifes, and bathers.
Around 1890, he became interested in card players. He observes these humble men, a worker or a gardener of his house. They do not cheat, do not joke, they smoke and drink peacefully. They no longer need to understand the universe: they are totally focused on their unuseful game.
Cézanne selected that theme clearly for his own use, perhaps to counter his mystical doubts of an aging man in relatively poor health. We do not know the exact date of the five paintings, nor their precedence.
Made around 1892, a watercolor, 47 x 30 cm, is estimated $ 15M, for sale by Christie's in New York on May 1. This preliminary study shows the man who will be sitting on the right in the least animated three paintings, those showing only two players, which probably are the final versions.
POST SALE COMMENT
Great price for this watercolor : $ 19M including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Christie's.
1895 The Scream of Nature
2012 SOLD 120 M$ including premium
The artist, exalted by the meaning of life, is constantly navigating the limits of a morbid insanity. In 1889, during the Exposition Universelle in Paris, he is fascinated by the intensity of emotions expressed by Van Gogh, Gauguin and Toulouse-Lautrec.
In early 1892, Munch lives his own road to Damascus. He sees the sky ablaze at sunset, like an indomitable force of nature which has invaded the fjord in a terrible explosion of colors. He writes in his notebook a short poem stating that the happening had generated an intense fatigue to him.
No doubt he will be mesmerized by this vision for over a year, before daring to translate the memory of his anxiety as a painting and a pastel with a title evocating his inspiration: the Scream of Nature.
It took him another two years to exorcise his anxiety. In 1895, he made a second pastel, 79 x 59 cm, to be sold by Sotheby's in New York on May 2. Now conscious of having created a masterpiece, he prepares on the same year the first lithography. The fourth and last version of Munch's Scream is much later.
The pastel of 1895 is exceptional, and Sotheby's expects $ 80M. This is the only version where the artist has included the poem, hand painted into the frame. The two friends are still there in the distance, but are not any more interested in the scene, leaving the main character lonely struggling with his own dehumanization.
This is the only one of the four artworks to be still in private hands, and it had been little seen outside Norway. It is illustrated on Sotheby's page announcing the sale.
I invite you to watch the video shared by Sotheby's International Realty.
POST SALE COMMENT
Ite missa est. In a few words, everything is told: world record for a work of art, $ 120M including premium.
Rarely a record has been so deserved: last original in private hands, this pastel also marks the top of the emotional maturity of the artist on this theme, with dazzling colors.
The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1902-1906 Nature morte au melon vert, watercolor and pencil by Cézanne
2007 SOLD 25.5 M$ including premium by Sotheby's
1912 Drei Pferde, gouache on card by Franz Marc
2018 SOLD for £ 15.4M including premium by Christie's
1940 Poetry of the Constellations
2017 SOLD for £ 24.5M including premium
Varengeville is one of the prettiest villages on the Normandy coast. Braque has his workshop and spends summers there. Calder is a frequent visitor. In this small land's end Miro calms his anxieties by contemplating the immensity of the night sky.
The personalization of the groupings of stars is one of the oldest poetic themes of our civilizations. Miro is not an astrologer but he is a poet. With the exceptional freedom of his imagination he superimposes on the sky the images of his fantasy.
In January 1940 Miro begins a series of artworks on the theme of the Constellations. They will all be on paper in the same size, 38 x 46 cm. The background is prepared by splashes of gouache and oil paint, more or less dark. The crescent moon and a few stars are the spectacular elements in bright colors accompanied by floating symbolic or abstract forms. The constellation, woman or bird, is a figure in thin lines surrounded by scrolls, scarcely more visible than a watermark.
The artist conceived from the outset this series as a coherent whole. The use of a a small and light format was premonitory. When he fled France to return to Spain in May 1940 he could take in his luggage the entire set : ten finished works and the pieces of paper that he will be use for the thirteen subsequent works.
The series of Constellations was completed in September 1941. Miro kept the secret until an exhibition in New York in 1945. Pollock was convinced by a possible non-figurative artistic transposition of an observable reality. With the Constellations of Miro modern art has just crossed the Atlantic.
On June 21 in London, Sotheby's sells as lot 45 the eighth opus of Miro's Constellations, dated 13 April 1940. Its unusually simple title, Femme et Oiseaux, prefigures the favorite themes of the artist for the rest of his career. In this sky that calls for peace, Joan Miro is not calmed : the woman howls.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
1948 The Organic Abstraction of Jackson Pollock
2013 SOLD 58 M$ including premium
He did not consider himself as an abstract artist. In the first months after his arrival in Long Island, he developed two series of paintings titled 'Sounds in the grass' and 'Accabonac Creek', reflecting his desire to commune with the earth for expressing its richness.
He then invented his own style so well known today but then so different from anything that existed before him. The surface to be painted is placed on the ground and not on an easel. He leaves his brushes to directly throw the liquid paint. There is no horizon and no framing even when the work is small, and there is also no longer a figuration.
The lines of pure colors of various widths form infinite and meticulous tangles. Sometimes, the start of the work is figurative before being hidden, but it is not the most important. The regularity of the final mesh is spectacular without being total, so that certain areas are breathing or vibrating such as an organic matter. Only Richter's rake will be able to generate similar effects.
On May 15 in New York, Christie's sells Number 19, 1948. This oil and enamel on paper mounted on canvas is small, 78 x 57 cm, but the fineness of the line is prodigious. Such a technical and artistic achievement deserves an estimate of $ 25M.
I invite you to watch the exciting video shared by Christie's.
POST SALE COMMENT
Despite its small size, Number 19-1948 is a masterpiece of Pollock by the extreme care of its realization. This painting was sold $ 58M including premium.
1949 Dances around the Image
2018 SOLD for $ 34M including premium
This experience will give him the idea of placing his canvas or paper flat on the floor of his workshop for a better precision of his dissemination of colors. Executing his gestural dance around the work as it goes along, he realizes Malevich's old dream of a re-orientable image in all directions that also gives the illusion of spreading beyond its own limits.
While canceling the figurative, Malevich also wanted to highlight the material. Pollock manages a similar approach. After the very large paintings of early 1948 he tries several techniques on small sizes.
The works on paper prepared with a white primer are promising and the small formats make it more possible to obtain in a lesser time a full covering of the surface with the desirable entangled lines of high density. Painted with pours and drips of oil and enamel paints, Number 19, 1948, a 78 x 57 cm paper mounted on canvas, was sold for $ 58M including premium by Christie's on May 15, 2013.
The use of aluminum paint for the white lines brings an additional brilliance. In the same size as the Number 19, 1948 described above, Number 32, 1949 was mounted on masonite. In a nice freshness thanks to a parsimonious use in exhibitions, this painting on paper is estimated $ 30M for sale by Sotheby's in New York on May 16, lot 14. Please watch the short video and the full video shared by the auction house.
1953 Woman (Blue Eyes) by De Kooning
2013 SOLD for $ 19M including premium by Christie's
1959 Poems to the sea by Cy Twombly
2013 SOLD for $ 21.7M including premium by Sotheby's
1969 Rothko dissolved in his Light
2018 SOLD for $ 19M including premium
The most important American abstract artists, Pollock and Rothko, both appreciated that paper could offer a better final brightness than canvas. Certainly for reasons of fragility and of conservation of the paper, their career was however mostly done with canvases.
During this critical phase which will be in remission before the end of the year, Rothko focuses on the luminous properties of his colors on paper, generally not exceeding 40 inches. Most of these papers are mounted on canvas.
Rothko brings to this new phase his experience of two decades in the choice of pigments. Many of his works in this pathetic series have a dark texture that does not exclude a high radiance. Clear compositions are rarer and may reflect short lived phases of optimism.
The vibrating reds then have a dominant role, even when their surface is restricted to the edge and the interstices. A large red and yellow oil on paper 134 x 103 cm was sold for $ 11M including premium by Christie's on November 15, 2017.
An example in pearly white and orange of this quest for ultimate brightness is for sale by Sotheby's in New York on May 16. The scarlet red is thin but contributes to the powerful balance. This oil on paper 99 x 65 cm mounted on canvas is estimated $ 7M, lot 5 in the sale of the Mandel collection. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.