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Private Collection Cachet Fuels High Prices at Paris Sales

Two days of auctions at Christie’s Paris, held May 22–23, achieved strong results for Impressionist and modern art, with combined sales achieving a total of almost €13 million ($16.3 million).

PARIS—Two days of auctions at Christie’s Paris, held May 22–23, achieved strong results for Impressionist and modern art, with combined sales achieving a total of almost €13 million ($16.3 million). The first auction, held on May 22, presented 26 lots from the prestigious collection of Fernand and Jeanne Moch, plus an additional eight lots from an anonymous European private collection. The 34 lots together fetched a total of €3.5 million ($4.4 million), well within the presale estimate of €2.7 million/4.2 million. In all, the sale was 80 percent sold by lot and 91 percent sold by value.

A prominent textile merchant, Fernand Moch was renowned for his collection of masterworks by the likes of Claude Monet, Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse. The top lot, by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, was Gabrielle et Jean, 1895, a charcoal and pastel drawing of the artist’s son Jean, the future filmmaker, with his nanny. Surpassing its estimate of €200,000/300,000, it sold for €481,000 ($615,758).

Two other works by Renoir also achieved solid results. His oil painting of a woman in a landscape in the south of France, Femme Dans un Paysage à Cagnes, sold for €457,000 ($585,034) against an estimate of €300,000/500,000; and Femme au corsage rouge et au chapeau noir, a pastel on paper, fetched €433,000 ($554,310) on an estimate of €400,000/600,000.

Two Pointillist-style works by Camille Pissarro, also from the Moch collection, did well: La Gardeuse d’Oies, 1888, painted in gouache, watercolor and pencil on silk, fetched €445,000 ($569,672) on an estimate of €300,000/500,000; Paysanne Attaching son Soulier, 1885, an oil painting, sold for €433,000 ($554,310), within its estimate of €400,000/600,000.

In other strong sales, Marc Chagall’s 1926 gouache and ink, Le Ruisseau, estimated at €180,000/250,000, sold for €205,000 ($262,433). A Pierre Bonnard landscape of the south of France, in gouache, watercolor and pencil, Paysage du Cannet, was acquired in a preemptive sale by the Bonnard Museum, in Le Cannet. It was sold for €187,000 ($239,390), within its estimate of €100,000/200,000.

At the Impressionist and modern art sale on the following day, an auction of 129 lots realized a total of €9.4 million ($12.1 million), compared with a pre-sale estimate of €8 million/12 million. A total of 98 works found buyers, representing 84 percent by lot and 76 percent by value.

A first time at auction, Alberto Giacometti’s Standing Lamp, model “Pilastre,” a 1936 lamppost in painted plaster, was the star of the sale. It was previously owned by Jean-Michel Frank, the influential Parisian designer and decorator. The price soared to €1.4 million ($1.8 million), tripling its high estimate of €300,000/500,000.

A painting by Joan Miró, previously from the personal collection of Oscar-nominated French actor Gérard Depardieu, also fetched top dollar: Le Lézard aux Plumes d’Or, a 1969 work in gouache, India ink and ink wash on paper, sold for €1.1 million ($1.3 million), meeting the high end of the €700,000/1 million estimate.

Other top lots included Jean Metzinger’s Femme et paysage à l’aqueduc, a 1916 work in oil and sand on canvas that sold for €937,000 ($1.2 million), more than doubling its low estimate of €400,000/600,000. A remarkable, elegant metal mask by Julio González, from the former collection of industrialist André Level, also did well. Another work by González, a one-of-a-kind female head in semi-relief with features simplified like cutout Cubist forms, Masque, 1929, in forged and soldered bronze with brown patina, fetched a healthy €901,000 ($1.1 million), within its estimate of €800,000/1.2 million.

Picasso Portraits Lead Sotheby’s Sale

As ARTnewsletter was published, Sotheby’s Paris Impressionist modern and contemporary auctions were held, May 29–30, with combined sales totaling more than €35 million. The Impressionist and modern art sale totaled €20.7 million ($25.8 million), the highest total ever for such an auction at Sotheby’s France, with 75 percent of the works sold by lot and 93 percent sold by value. The two contemporary art sessions totaled €14.3 million ($18 million), selling 79 percent by lot or 84 percent by value.

The highlights of the sale were two works by Pablo Picasso, painted just three days apart in October 1949. The top lot, his Tête de Femme, a portrait of Dora Maar from a private European collection, was estimated at €3 million/5 million, and fetched an impressive €6.3 million ($7.9 million).

His Femme Assise, depicting a seated blonde woman thought to be Marie-Thérèse Walter (painted three days before he began his portrait of Dora and from the same private collection), fetched €3.4 million on an estimate of €2 million/4 million.

Four, new, artist auction records were also attained, including one for Man Ray’s 1959 oil painting Image à deux faces, which sold for €2.4 million ($3 million), against an estimate of €1.5 million/2 million; Salvador Dalí’s 1956 landscape with an approaching storm, Paysage de Port Lligat, avant la tempête, which, at €1.8 million ($2.2 million), met its high estimate of €1.25 million/1.85 million and set a record in France; and Auguste Herbin and Christ. Beekman pieces.