Chronology : 19th century 1880-1889 1888 1889 1890-1899 1890 20th century 1900-1909 1903 1920-1929 1925 1970-1979 1972
1888-1890 Montagne Sainte-Victoire by Cézanne
2022 SOLD for $ 138M by Christie's
The view on the Montagne Sainte-Victoire is magnificent from his new home. The mountain is standing out alone in a nearly symmetrical shape on the horizon. Desiring now to develop his art conceptions in seclusion, Paul takes it as a regular theme, sometimes framed by a large pine in the foreground.
New pictorial experiments are beginning. Cézanne manages to give up the optical truth of the Impressionnistes. The landscape becomes an orderly construction of geometrical shapes, providing the emotional sensation of another reality.
An oil on canvas 65 x 80 cm painted in 1888 or slightly later displays the dominating Montagne is all its purity, surrounded by the countryside without its real foreground of olive trees, roads and houses.
The flattened geometric mountain is colored in a range of soft blues, lilacs and white in an unprecedented balance of myriads of brush strokes. The underlined horizon are resolutely geometrical. Indeed impressionism and photography could not display such a powerful effect.
This painting was sold for $ 38.5M by Phillips, de Pury and Luxembourg on May 7, 2001, lot 5, and for $ 138M by Christie's on November 9, 2022, lot 14. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The reality of the canceled foreground disturbed the artist. From 1902 his workshop at Les Lauves provides every morning to the aging artist the global view of the Montagne Sainte-Victoire as he had dreamed it in the 1880s, nevertheless with a loss in the symmetry of the peak..
April 1888 Verger by van Gogh
2022 SOLD for $ 117M by Christie's
In February the sunlight on the snow was wonderful but spring is still better. Nature awakens. All over the area in the orchards, pink and white blossoms dazzle under the Provençal sun. Desiring to express a tremendous gaiety, Vincent is very prolific with 14 paintings in five weeks from March 25 of the peach, apricot, plum, pear, cherry and almond trees, in a fury to process that wonderful theme before the spring colors are over.
The trees are single or in groups, with no human presence. His brush is in full freedom with no preconceived process from impasto to uncovered canvas.
On November 9, 2022, Christie's sold for $ 117M a Verger of pink peach trees, lot 22. This oil on canvas painted in April 1888 was consigned to his brother Theo in the next month in his first supply from Arles. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The composition of this panoramic format 65 x 80 cm is very harmonious, with the dark horizon of cypress trees that does not overlap the delicate tones of the orchard. The dotted sky mingles with the blooming branches, arguably inspired from the brushstroke of Seurat whom Vincent had visited in February just before leaving Paris.
On May 1, 1888, Vincent rents some rooms in the Maison Jaune in order to install his studio and share his enthusiasm with other artists.
1888 The Studio of the South
2015 SOLD for $ 66M including premium
He moved to the maison jaune where he wanted to create a community of artists named by him L'Atelier du Midi. Paul Gauguin arrived as his first guest on 23 October.
A period of fine weather, from October 29 to November 2, allows a first outdoor session. The two artists set their easels in the Alyscamps dominated by the bright yellow of the autumn leaves.
They must come to some understanding. Two of van Gogh paintings include forms within sharp outlines that could appeal to Gauguin. Their very different conceptions of artistic creation begin however to oppose the two artists from that first trials. Gauguin is a cerebral man for whom the achievement must be consistent with the original design, van Gogh is an impulsive wishing that the spontaneous gesture contributes to the artwork.
On May 5 in New York, Sotheby's sells a view of the Alyscamps painted on November 1, 1888, oil on canvas 92 x 74 cm, lot 18. The press release of April 13 is expecting a price in excess of $ 40M.
The composition is geometric, with its perspective view of the allée of trees. The contrast between the warm colors of soil and trees and the cold blue sky make this van Gogh painting resolutely away from the flat colors of Gauguin. The expression is enhanced by the rich shades of the palette. This painting contains the elements that will generate misunderstanding and estrangement between the two great artists.
I invite you to play the video shared by Sotheby's. Its image is also shared by Wikimedia.
1889 The Field beyond the Window
2017 SOLD for $ 81M including premium
On June 18, Vincent paints La Nuit étoilée in which the stars are transformed into whirlwinds of fire. Anxious about the loss of control of his mental health, Vincent believes being appeased by the energy of his hallucination. Doctors fear another major crisis. They are right : it happens in mid-July.
Supervised by the doctors, Vincent does not paint during his crises. He takes his brushes again in the last days of August. The window of his room looks to the east. The sun rising above the wheat field is blinding and hypnotic, and also reveals the bright colors that constitute the soil. The colors are intermingled like swirls, scars and tongues of fire with an extreme violence.
This oil on canvas 50 x 65 cm is titled Laboureur dans un champ. The man, the horse and the plow in mid-distance against the light offer a new opus of the favorite theme of Vincent's career, a result of his lifelong empathy with the soil workers.
Healing through hard work that released his impulses was only an illusion but it produced unprecedented masterpieces. The next crisis comes in December.
Laboureur dans un champ will be sold as lot 28 A by Christie's in New York on November 13. Please watch the video shared by the auction house. The image below is shared by Wikimedia.
October 1889 Cabanes de Bois by van Gogh
2021 SOLD for $ 71M by Christie's
Indeed Cabanes de bois parmi les oliviers et cyprès is an opposition between the quietness of the rural scenery and the furious desire of the artist to survive while he is still a resident in the asylum at Saint-Rémy.
The composition is simple, centered on the group of two huts. The expression is provided by the mingling of the full range of bright colors of the fall, from the incandescent soil to the purple mountains and the turquoise blue sky though the green and gray foliages, the red roofs and the violet shadows.
Cabanes, oil on canvas 45 x 60 cm, was sold for $ 71M by Christie's on November 11, 2021, lot 4C.
Christie's is honored to announce The Cox Collection: The Story of Impressionism, one of the greatest American collections to ever appear in the auction market, featuring masterpieces by Caillebotte, Cézanne and Van Gogh. https://t.co/mbwxiH4FIc pic.twitter.com/D3w0IP4gyU— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) July 29, 2021
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.
1903 Birch Forest by Klimt
2022 SOLD for $ 105M by Christie's
Gustav's symbolism is charged with an eroticism which shocks the Viennese. He is not afraid of scandal but needs rest. He spends summers in Litzlberg on the Attersee, where he is the guest of the Flöge family.
In this tranquil atmosphere, Gustav maintains another art for his own pleasure. He paints outdoors the landscapes of forests, clearings and ponds on square formats, like Monet is doing at the same time. He does not forget the application to women's clothing, for which depth and horizon are of no use.
An oil on canvas 110 x 110 cm painted in 1903 was sold by Christie's on November 8, 2006 for $ 40M, lot 51 coming from the restitution to the heirs of the Bloch-Bauer family. It was sold for $ 105M by Christie's on November 9, 2022, lot 17. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
The birch trees form an unlimited pattern of vertical streaks with no horizon. The variable width of the trunks cancels the vanishing points, superseded by the overlaid arrangement of the color strokes. The leaves on the ground are painted with spots inspired by pointillism which bring a sparkle of colors.
Klimt's attention to the applied arts has taken him beyond post-impressionism up to the limits of an immersive abstraction.
1925 Twelve Landscapes by Qi Baishi
2017 SOLD for RMB 930M including premium by Poly
narrated in 2020
Born in Hunan province into a family of poor peasants, Qi Baishi was self-taught. Settled in Beijing at the age of 53 in 1917, he drew inspiration from Bada Shanren to develop a vigorous and spontaneous line, reaching poetry through a free realism. His greatest innovation is the use of inks in very bright colors.
His themes are varied while being ordinary and peaceful : landscapes, trees, countless small things. He paints according to his own observations, is not interested in symbols and allegories and does not follow Bada Shanren in the rebellion. Far away from politics, he will never be threatened.
On December 17, 2017, Poly sold in Beijing for RMB 930M including premium, worth US $ 144M at that time, a monumental suite of twelve screens 180 x 47 cm each. They were painted by Qi in 1925 in light blue, gray, brown and pink on the theme of mountains, villages and blossoming trees.
This result rewards a major work from the seminal period of modern Chinese art of which Qi was one of the greatest influencers. It is to date (2020) the highest price recorded at auction outside New York and the highest price for Chinese art.
The twelve panels are illustrated side by side in the CTV News article announcing their display at the Poly Culture Art Center in Vancouver in October 2017 with an estimate of US $ 100M.
There is only one other similar set by Qi. Painted in 1932, it is kept in a museum in Chongqing.
1972 A Nest for Two Boys
2018 SOLD for $ 90M including premium
David sees by chance on the floor of his studio the conjunction of two photographs that can constitute a scene : a swimmer under water and a standing boy watching something in the distance. The relationship between two men has always been one of his favorite themes. He has just found a way to express his affair with Peter.
It is not so easy for this hypersensitive artist. He destroys a first version. The sudden break between the lovers occurs around that time. In the spring of 1972 David leaves with two assistants to take photographs in a house of director Tony Richardson named Le Nid du Duc in the countryside above Saint-Tropez. During the summer of 1969 David and Peter had spent a few happy days at that place.
A photograph of the swimmer suits him. It will not be a self-portrait in the picture. For the properly dressed observer who will be standing up by the pool, he finds in his archives some photographs of the real Peter, as if David now agreed to entrust Peter to an unidentifiable swimmer.
The acrylic on canvas 213 x 305 cm painted in 1972 is titled Portrait of an Artist and subtitled Pool with Two Figures. The swimmer is under water and Peter is at the edge of the pool. Although Peter's gaze is directed towards the swimmer, communication between them is impossible.
In 1974 a biopic titled A Bigger Splash tells the story of the breaking up of David and Peter. David plays his own role. The film incorporates sequences that had been shot during the preparation of the Portrait of an Artist. The mix of emotion and real intimacy makes A Bigger Splash a cult film of the gay communities, to the point of shocking David himself. He will change his mind later.
This painting will be sold by Christie's in New York on November 15 as lot 9 C. The press release of September 13 announces an estimate in the region of $ 80M. Please watch the video prepared by the auction house including sequences from the movie.
The low resolution image is shared by Wikimedia for fair use.