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 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 :
1891 A Stack in Winter
2016 SOLD for $ 81M including premium
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.
When comes the end of summer 1890 Monet is ready for a new experience. The vegetation will disappear with winter. As for every year the grain stacks will remain alone in the middle of the fields until the wheat threshing of the spring. They will be the perfect support for Monet to perform his observations of colors through all weather conditions and at all moments of time. This series totaled 25 paintings.
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, was sold for $ 12M including premium by Sotheby's on 11 May 1999. It is now for sale by Christie's in New York on November 16, lot 9 B. The targeted price was disclosed at around $ 45M by the specialized press.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's. The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
1892 Te Poipoi by Gauguin
2007 SOLD for $ 39M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
The colonial atmosphere of Papeete is nothing authentic. Gauguin finally finds in the village of Mataiea the living conditions which he can consider as an unsoiled civilization. He admires the innocent nudity.
Gauguin paints a lot in Mataiea. He is very inspired by the beautiful colors of these shaded landscapes and by the amber skins of the women. He selfishly sees the sexual life as the central theme of his ethnico-mystical exploration. His very young mistress certainly helps this European in exile to understand the exotic traditions.
Te Poipoi, oil on canvas 68 x 92 cm painted in 1892 in the early fall, was sold for $ 39M including premium by Sotheby's on November 7, 2007, lot 18. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
Te Poipoi means The morning. The very bright colors painted in solid style anticipate the fauvism. Two women, one crouching in the foreground and the other standing further away, do their ablutions in the blue water. The landscape is made complex by the reflections of trees and foliage.
Nafea Faa Ipoipo?, meaning When shall you get married?, is a genre scene from the same series, showing a woman protecting or presenting a girl. This oil on canvas 101 x 77 cm was sold in private sale in February 2015 to the sister of the Emir of Qatar. The price of $ 300M announced at that time would have claimed a record. After a legal action between the seller and the broker, the price of $ 210M was disclosed in 2019.
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.
1894 The most beautiful of Vampyrs (was made by Munch)
2008 SOLD 38 M$ including premium
Chance of the sales or rediscovery of Munch? A week ago, I devoted an article in the Prints group to a lithographic copy of the "Scream". The next day I announced in my weekly preview the arrival of a Vampire, at Sotheby's in London on October 2! (300 K£, lot 81). But now it's even better: I do not speak of an engraving, but of an oil on canvas.
Munch was a very important artist, who knew perfectly how to mingle love and death. His extraordinary lithograph "Madonna" has also been a few months ago the subject of an article on these networks. He was an illustrator concerned about the disclosure of his work, who made his oils on canvas in a small number of examples and added lithographic issues with a virtually identical drawing. As a result, this female "vampire", with her flame-color long hair, kissing on the neck of her lover, is an image that the auction news bring us often.
The Vampire was painted in four copies in 1893-1894, and the example to be sold is the only one in private hands. It is well known in New York, where it had been loaned during ten years to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Sotheby's expects more than $ 35 million.
On 7 May 2008, a painting with peaceful subject, Girls on a bridge, was sold in the same auction room at $ 30.8 million including expenses.
POST SALE COMMENT
In the chronology of the sales, the first is the print : 325 K£ including fees.
It is always nice to see an important work acknowledged by the verdict of the market. This is the case for this remarkable Vampire, sold $ 38 million charge included.
The image is shared by Wikimedia :
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.
1899 Maternité by Gauguin
2004 SOLD for $ 39M including premium by Sotheby's
narrated in 2020
He manages to rebuild a family in Punaauia, a village near Papeete, with a vahine named Pahura, far too young by European standards. The birth of a boy in April 1899 is a moment of great joy.
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 including premium by Sotheby's on November 4, 2004, lot 15. 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 including premium by Sotheby's on May 5, 2015.