Chronology : 19th Century 1870-1879 1880-1889 1890-1899 1900-1909 1905 1910-1919 1913 1914 1920-1929 1923 1970-1979
1876 Bal du Moulin de la Galette by Renoir
1990 SOLD 78 M$ by Sotheby's
1881 The Flower-Woman in Manet's Seasons
2014 SOLD for $ 65M including premium
Everything begins to change in 1881. His old friend Antonin Proust, close to Gambetta, suggests Manet to produce a series of allegorical paintings on the theme of the four seasons. Manet soaks carefully and slowly within this project.
The first paintings, Spring (Le Printemps) and Autumn, are made within that year. In the following year, studies of amazones show how Manet wanted to express Summer, but he died in 1883 without having worked on Winter. In 1882, Le Printemps and Un Bar aux Folies-Bergères finally provide Manet with a triumph in the Salon.
Spring is a time for renewal, hope and flowers. Manet was inspired by the ideal of the flower-woman played by the very young actress Jeanne Demarsy nicely dressed in flowery clothes in an environment of rhododendrons. Jeanne is seen in profile in the style of the Renaissance but proudly expresses the autonomy of the new woman.
Le Printemps, oil on canvas 74 x 52 cm, is for sale on November 5 by Christie's in New York, lot 16 estimated $ 25M.
This artwork is the subject of a video shared by Christie's (see below). The image is shared by Wikimedia:
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 :
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.
1893-1894 Rideau, cruchon and compotier by Cézanne
1999 SOLD 60 M$ including premium by Sotheby's
1905 Water Landscapes
2015 SOLD for $ 54M including premium
The artist begins a synthesis of this new theme with his concern from the previous twenty years for the changing colors and reflections under various time and weather. He had the good fortune to catch in his own garden the most subtle theme of modern painting.
The paintings of the first year of the Nymphéas series are very rare on the art market. One of them, 81 x 100 cm, was sold for £ 18.5 million including premium by Sotheby's on 19 June 2007. In this close-up view, the edge of the pond is already off the field, also providing an impression of infinity that anticipates Mondrian.
In 1905, the water lilies are more sparse to offer a better role to reflections that became recognizable although the trees are still out of field. The plants form a floating cohort simulating a nice horizontal movement.
A view in clear weather under a gentle sun, oil on canvas 90 x 100 cm, was sold for $ 44M including premium by Christie's on November 7, 2012.
On May 5 in New York, Sotheby's sells an oil on canvas 81 x 100 cm, lot 30 estimated $ 30M. Also dated 1905, it shows the blocks at the water surface in an atmosphere of early or late hour providing a superb harmony of deep blues and greens.
1905 Monet overwhelmed by his Nymphéas
2012 SOLD 44 M$ including premium
Constable had been the painter of the wind. Monet was the artist of the water surface. After the development of Impressionism, the Nymphéas series is the second revolution brought about by Monet in art history.
In June 19, 2007, Sotheby's sold £ 18.5 million including premium an oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm. Dated 1904, it demonstrates the first systematic experiments on this subject: the horizon disappears to let the water remaining alone in space. The green reflections are almost abstract, already.
The oil on canvas, 90 x 100 cm, for sale by Christie's in New York on November 7, is dated in the following year, 1905. The water lilies have a botanical accuracy, the more readable reflections are a better tribute to the pleasure of the garden. It is estimated $ 30M, and illustrated in the release shared by Artdaily.
Durand-Ruel was the first to understand and support the transformation of the art of Monet. In 1909, he assembled in an exhibition 48 Nymphéas by Monet, including the painting now for sale at Christie's. Through this unique theme, careful observers could detect the infinite variety of the artistic creation.
POST SALE COMMENT
By its date and quality, this painting is one of the most outstanding from the Nympheas series: $ 44M including premium.
1906 Monet and the Passion of Water
2014 SOLD 32 M£ including premium
Here is how I announced in 2010 this masterpiece that was previously sold in 2000 :
Claude Monet is the painter of the elusive. His studies of light variations have transformed the Western art. He should not be regarded as a leader, but rather as a great creator.
And the Durand-Ruel gallery was a great instigator of talent. In 1905, Monet is 65 years old, already. He departed from the excitement of the life in Paris to enjoy his garden at Giverny. An exhibition project for Durand-Ruel made his passion. The exhibition took place in 1909, and Monet found there the theme that monopolized his art until the end of his life: the water lilies in his garden.
This series of "Nymphéas" mark the total success of an impossible challenge: to show in painting the transparency of water. The flowers are seen obliquely, with perspective, lighting and reflections being different each time. They are widely spaced, and between them is coming the incredible illusion: the observer sees the surface of the water. They are not abstract, far away, but the lack of horizon has certainly influenced the non-figurative art.
On May 8th 2000, Christie's sold for $ 20.9 million including premium an oil on canvas, 90 x 100 cm. This painting has all the qualities. Made in 1906, it was one of the highlights of the exhibition of 1909. The light is established by very subtle pastel shades, and the reflections are superb.
POST SALE COMMENT
This painting is one of the masterpieces from Monet's early Nymphéas. It was sold for £ 32 million including premium.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's.
1913 The Analysis of Rhythm
2017 SOLD for $ 70M including premium
Léger admires the advances made by Cézanne while wanting to escape his theories. Geometric construction is indeed no more than a technique. The introduction of movement in painting by the Futurists is promising but remains anecdotal. Painting needs nothing else than displaying pure lines, shapes and colors which will capture the interest of the viewer by their own rhythm.
Like Kandinsky in Murnau, Léger conducts in parallel his pictorial trials and his theoretical research. His Femme en Bleu painted in 1912 is the switch into abstraction of a cubist work based on a classic theme. Balancing on this border between narrative and abstraction, Léger manages immediately afterward a reverted move in which the forms of the woman reappear. This oil on canvas 130 x 97 cm was sold for $ 39M including premium by Sotheby's on May 7, 2008.
Léger goes much further than Kandinsky and precedes Mondrian and Malevich : art can be abstract without any need to rely on a figurative sketch. In 1913 and 1914 he achieves about fourteen abstract paintings under the generic title Contraste de Formes. A contract with Kahnweiler brings him stability in his living conditions. The support by this merchant also slows down his habit of destroying his own works when the artistic effect does not respond to his perfectionist desire.
On November 13 in New York, Christie's sells as lot 14A a Contraste de Formes painted in 1913, oil on burlap 92 x 73 cm.
The progress made by Léger is decisive but soon interrupted by the stupid war that will annihilate Apollinaire. He will give up abstraction, no doubt because the effort to reach his own target for perfection was too exhausting. After this ephemeral momentum towards pure painting he will become an original image maker of modern life.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's.
1914-1917 The New Water Lilies
2018 SOLD for $ 85M including premium
Based in Giverny since 1883 the artist wants to create a water garden. In 1894 he purchases from Latour-Marliac plants from 32 different species including a yellow Nymphaea created in 1888 and a pink Nymphaea created in 1892. His interest in these hybrids is not immediate but his curiosity increases.
These new water lilies will become the stars of his garden. Monet paints his first Nymphéas in 1895, displaying the plants on the water in close-up with a botanical accuracy on canvases less than 1 m wide.
The artist is delighted by his garden. In 1904 the nymphéa pond becomes one of his favorite themes. The water lilies float in a cohort, bringing in conjunction with the reflections a vision of the surface of the water. In the same year he buys four other hybrids to Latour-Marliac
1914 is a terrible year. His son Jean dies in February, less than three years after Alice. International relations are desperate. Fortunately his friend Georges Clemenceau pushes him back to work by suggesting the project of the Grandes Décorations.
This new phase includes a major modification in Monet's art, the use of large formats of canvas. He looks more closely at the details of the flowers in his garden. A group of giant iris at water's edge 200 x 100 cm was sold for £ 10.8M including premium by Christie's on June 23, 2015.
On May 8 in New York, Christie's sells as lot 10 Nymphéas en fleur, oil on canvas 140 x 180 cm painted in his signature style of 1914-1917. The large size enables here a synthesis of the two visions of the artist. Nine big flowers in five groups have retrieved the details of the earliest series while the leaves and reflections are positioning the surface of the water on the whole of this image with no horizon.
#LiveLikeARockefeller: ‘The closer you get to the canvas, the more you feel like you’re inside it. The rest of the world vanishes,’ says Rebecca Wei, our President of Christie’s Asia, of the Rockefellers’ ‘Nymphéas en fleur’ by Claude #Monet.https://t.co/mT8EnKHNAN pic.twitter.com/LrOsMEJU7F— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) April 24, 2018
1923 A Nice Farniente
2018 SOLD for $ 81M including premium
Henriette poses complacently because she appreciates the beauty of her athletic body. In parallel to nude studies, Matisse stages her in orientalist attires that are a new excuse for the shimmer of colors in her surroundings. Her portraits exudes her confidence in the artist without inhibiting her sensuality.
On May 8 in New York, Christie's sells as lot 8 Odalisque couchée aux magnolias, oil on canvas 61 x 81 cm painted in 1923. The nice intimacy of this artwork had seduced David and Peggy Rockefeller.
The young woman enjoys the pleasures of idleness, ready to nap or just finishing it. She is reclining on a chaise longue probably in the gate of a veranda. She wears on her shoulders a light shirt completely opened to expose the naked chest to the beneficent sun of the Côte d'Azur.
The orientalist impression is brought by the Persian harem pants which loosely cover the lower part of her body and by the screen behind her whose right panel is centered on two large magnolia flowers.
Please watch the video shared by Christie's.
(1930) - 1978 The Lengthy Creation of Matisse's Back
2010 SOLD 49 M$ including premium
In 1906, the artist designs an original theme of sculpture: a nude woman standing, life size, seen from behind, leaning against a wall. The subject fascinated him to such a degree that he created three further versions, in 1913, 1916 and 1930. Psychoanalysts could probably tell us why the sculpted woman is liked by Matisse when she turns her back.
These four naked Backs are changing from realism to stylization, from flexibility to a balance of the masses. The last state is broad and symmetrical, the body barred from head to buttocks by a vertical braid that resembles the tail of a heavy horse.
Twelve bronzes were published from each of the four plasters between 1948 and 1981. The piece for sale by Christie's is a bronze of the last state, 189 cm high, with brown patina, cast in 1978, the penultimate of this model to be still in private hands. It is shown on the Reuters news shared by Artdaily.
POST SALE COMMENT
The meeting of Henri Matisse with the Art Déco style has generated a very high price: $ 49M including premium. The fact that this original edition is largely posthumous has not hampered the buyers.