ARTnewsletter Archive

Mid-Season Imp/Mod Sales Mirror Strong Overseas Demand

Mid-season sales of Impressionist and modern art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, on Feb. 13-14, realized $9.4 million.

NEW YORK—Mid-season sales of Impressionist and modern art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s, on Feb. 13-14, realized $9.4 million. The high sale rate and above-estimate prices indicated robust demand for middle-market artworks.

The Sotheby’s auction on Feb. 13, which also included Russian and Latin American art, fetched $5.7 million, with 87.2 percent of 218 lots sold. By value the auction was 91.7 percent sold. Most lots in the Sotheby’s sale achieved mid-five-figure prices. The exceptions were a handful of top lots, including several works by Jean-Pierre Cassigneul and Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Two Renoir oils bearing the same $60,000/80,000 estimates—Anémones and Baigneuse, took $145,000, and $133,000, respectively. The top price, $193,000, went to Felice Casorati’s Donna Seduta (estimate: $70,000/90,000).

A 1989 painting by Bernard Buffet, Panier de fruits et assiete, sold for $109,000, bettering its $90,000 high estimate; and Cassigneul’s 1965 Les bas verts made $103,000 (estimate: $60,000/80,000).

“In addition to strong American participation throughout the sale, we saw competitive international bidding, which included Russian interest in Western European paintings,” commented the Sotheby’s specialist in charge of the sale, Jennifer Roth.

Among works by Russian artists, a circa late 1920s Portrait of the Artist’s Mother, by Robert Rafaelovich Falk (1886-1958), sold for $115,000, far past the expected $25,000/35,000, to a European collector.

At Christie’s smaller sale the next day, 134, or 91 percent, of 148 lots found takers. By value the sale realized 97 percent. All the top lots took prices far above expectations.

The highest price of $205,000, way more than twice the $80,000 high estimate, was given by a European dealer for Paysage du Roussillon, 1926, by Leopold Survage (1878-1968); this was followed by the $157,000, more than five times the $30,000 high estimate, paid by an American dealer for Paris, les Tuileries, 1961, by Michele Cascella (1892-1989), setting a new record for the artist. Another artist’s record was set by the $118,600 earned for the pointillist Crépuscule sur Paris, by artist Yvonne Canu (b. 1921).

International Demand Noted

After the sale, specialists Brooke Lampley and Stefany Sekara noted demand from “both private and trade buyers” for the auctioneer’s first mid-season Impressionist offering of the year. These results, Christie’s says, “confirm the continued strength of the international market.”

Several other Pointillist-style works by Canu were among the sale’s top lots, including La ponche à St. Tropez, which flew above its $20,000 high estimate to snag $91,000; and Pique-nique en val de Loire, which fetched $85,000, leaving its $12,000 high estimate in the dust.

Works by Jean Dufy (1888-1964) also fared well, with the 1929 oil Orchestre symphonique bringing $145,000 (estimate: $60,000/80,000) from a European collector; and Les clowns musiciens taking $97,000 (estimate: $35,000/45,000) from an American collector.

Another example of Les clowns musiciens was sold from the estate of the singer-actress Kitty Carlisle Hart (1910-2007). Estimated at $30,000/40,000, it won $58,600.

The sale also featured more modestly priced works by French painter Louis Vivin (1861-1936) that had been acquired in Paris by artist Hans Hofmann (1880-1966).

The three paintings, offered by Hofmann’s estate, included Vivin’s Le moulin, which sold within its $2,000/3,000 estimate for $2,500; Eglise Saint Pierre de Montmarte, which brought $15,000 (estimate: $3,000/5,000); and Institution, Saint Marie, Belfort, which earned $5,250 (estimate: $2,000/3,000).