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 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 :
June 1890 Jeune Homme au Bleuet by van Gogh
2021 SOLD for $ 47M by Christie's
Le Jeune homme au bleuet is an unidentified young peasant boy of whom Vincent painted the portrait in June 1890 in Auvers.
The portrait is uncompromising. The lower class boy has a sun bathed dark skin, a shaggy blond hair, a sad gaze and a forced smile. He holds a cornflower between his lips. The line is much expressive in the style of Vincent's later works.
This oil on canvas 40 x 32 cm was sold for $ 47M from a lower estimate of $ 5M by Christie's on November 11, 2021, lot 21C.
Meules by MONET
He had been very active throughout that period. His paintings of the Gare St Lazare in 1877 constituted a series that displayed the variations in color depending on the intensity of sunlight and on the thickness of smoke from the trains. His solitary travel in Normandy in 1882 for comforting after the death of Camille is very important : Monet demonstrates to himself that lighting is better than topography for expressing a mood.
1890 W1273 Meules
2019 SOLD for $ 110M by Sotheby's
Monet loves this theme that is typical of country life without the need to add humans or birds. He begins at the end of summer 1890 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 was sold for $ 110M from a lower estimate of $ 55M by Sotheby's on May 14, 2019, lot 8. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
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
1891 W1290 Meule
2016 SOLD for $ 81M by Christie's
Three of them have been specifically grouped as a ultimate achievement of the Meules in the catalogue raisonné prepared by Daniel Wildenstein. Only one stack is visible in front of a retracted landscape. It is truncated either from top or from one side. The color emotion is not challenged by that figurative feature reduced to nothing more than a bulky triangle. In 1896, in front of one of these paintings, Kandinsky was dazzled.
Another Meule from that group of three, oil on canvas 73 x 92 cm painted in 1891, reference Wildenstein 1290 pictured at sunset, was sold for $ 12M by Sotheby's on May 11 1999 and for $ 81M by Christie's on November 16, 2016, lot 9 B. Please watch the video shared by Christie's. The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
1893-1894 Rideau, cruchon et compotier by Cézanne
1999 SOLD 60 M$ including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
Cézanne no longer needs his art to earn a living and does not date his works. The chronology of his still lifes can only be based on the evolution of their complexity. His vision weakened by a diabetes identified in 1890 may have prompted him to seek these new solutions.
He tirelessly changes the position of the same objects, with the same varieties of fruit, seeking the extreme limit of balance. It is only by a very careful inspection that the observer discovers that a dish is not placed on the top of the table but bent over a hidden support.
The crumpled white tablecloth becomes an essential element of the composition, bringing the impression of the imminent fall of the objects and fruits that are placed on it. The arrangements are becoming increasingly complex.
In 1893 or 1894, Cézanne painted two similar compositions, with the same jug and stemcup on the same table, and the same curtain.
Pichet et fruits sur une table is less dramatic because it does not include the tablecloth. The visual confusion is brought by the cup whose real position in relation to the table is not discernible because it is half hidden by the pitcher. This oil on paper 42 x 72 cm was sold for £ 11.8M including premium by Sotheby's on February 3, 2010.
Rideau, cruchon et compotier dangerously distributes the fruits in the folds of the tablecloth. The cup, with a spectacular stacking of fruit, is here hidden behind a rise in the tablecloth. All this will fall to the ground in a few moments. This oil on canvas 60 x 73 cm was sold for $ 60M including premium by Sotheby's on May 10, 1999. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
La Corbeille de pommes, oil on canvas 65 x 80 cm kept at the Art Institute of Chicago, illustrates similar conceptions : the lower part of the cup is hidden by some fruit. Here the very tilted position of the basket is partially explained by a thick wedge whose usefulness in real life is questionable.
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.
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.
1895 Clairière by Cézanne
2022 SOLD for $ 42M by Sotheby's
As for landscapes he tirelessly revisited the same themes : the wide open scenery of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire and the closed views of woods and glades.
This phase reached its culmination in large formats around 1895 in an unusually reductive palette of blue, green and ochre in various intensities.
Clairière, oil on canvas 100 x 81 cm, flattens the perspective. De-accessioned from the Toledo Museum of Art, it was sold for $ 42M from a lower estimate of $ 30M by Sotheby's on May 17, 2022, lot 16. The image is shared by Wikimedia. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1899 Maternité by Gauguin
2022 SOLD for $ 106M by Christie's
Gauguin paints maternity scenes, with warm colors. Femmes sur le bord de la mer, later known as Maternité (I), shows a seated young mother breastfeeding her newborn. She is surrounded by two standing women who bring fruit and flowers, symbols of abundance and beauty. Fishermen and a dog complete the atmosphere. This oil on canvas 94 x 72 cm is kept at the Hermitage Museum in Saint-Petersburg.
Maternité (II), limited to the group of women, is therefore a more direct interpretation of the theme of fertility. This oil on burlap 95 x 61 cm was sold for $ 39M by Sotheby's on November 4, 2004, lot 15, and for $ 106M by Christie's on November 9, 2022, lot 11. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
With Gauguin the mystical interpretation, both religious and anticlerical, is always underlying. For example, a Nativité painted in 1902 stages a larger Polynesian group simulating the Crèche. The head of the baby is adorned with a radiant halo. This oil on canvas 44 x 62 cm was sold for $ 5.9M by Sotheby's on May 5, 2015.