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Archipenko Painting Stars at Christie’s Midseason Sale

Christie’s midseason sale of Impressionist and modern art on Sept. 10 realized $3.4 million, down from the $4 million sale last year, but well exceeding the presale estimate of $1.9 million/2.8 million.

NEW YORK—Christie’s midseason sale of Impressionist and modern art on Sept. 10 realized $3.4 million, down from the $4 million sale last year, but well exceeding the presale estimate of $1.9 million/2.8 million.

Of 170 works on offer, 146, or 86 percent, were sold. By value, the auction was 94 percent sold. At the high end of the sale, most works far exceeded their modest estimates.

Christie’s specialist Stefany Sekara said the auction results “reiterated the continuing strength of the middle market, with works of good quality, attractively priced, proving highly desirable.”

The top price was the $218,500 paid by a dealer for Alexander Archipenko’s oil painting Torse (estimate: $18,000/24,000). The work had last been offered at auction at Ketterer Kunst, Munich, in November 1999, where the consignor acquired it. The painting had appeared in auctions numerous times in the years preceding the Ketterer Kunst sale, including at Christie’s in February 1999—when it brought $6,900, below its estimate of $8,000/12,000—and at Christie’s New York in May 1991, when it went unsold against an $18,000/22,000 estimate. A note in the catalogue said the Archipenko Foundation “has confirmed the authenticity” of the signed painting.

Jean-Pierre Cassigneul (b. 1935), whose portraits often figure prominently in midmarket Impressionist sales, accounted for three of the top ten lots. The highest-selling of these was Femme au peignoir blanc, 1968, which went for $158,500 (estimate: $60,000/80,000), followed by Nicole, an oil painting which sold for $80,500 (estimate: $40,000/60,000), and Confidence, 1999, depicting two women strolling in a park seen from behind, which sold for $74,500 (estimate: $35,000/45,000).

A charcoal drawing of a woman, circa 1890–91, by Gustav Klimt brought $68,500, far above the estimate of $15,000/20,000. According to Christie’s catalogue, the drawing was most likely prepared as a study for the figure of Pallas Athene in the allegorical Griechische Antike, a decoration for the grand staircase of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Another Klimt, the sparse pencil drawing Studie einer nackten Frau, circa 1908–9, which Christie’s catalogue said was likely related to a group of studies for the first state of Tod und Leben dated 1911, doubled its high estimate to take $40,000 (estimate: $15,000/20,000). Brunette, 1928, a portrait of a seated woman by Jules Pascin (1885–1930), surpassed its $50,000/70,000 estimate to sell for $92,500.

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