Art market watchers will see whether the red-hot “masterpiece market” will continue to defy the broad economic slump at Sotheby’s Nov. 5 Impressionist and modern evening sale, which includes among its 68 lots multiple works by several masters, including no fewer than nine Picassos, six Mirós, five Henry Moores, and four each by Ernst, Matisse and Renoir. The sale is expected to command in excess of $170 million. The same sale last year brought $199.8 million.
Femme à la fenêtre (Marie-Thérèse), a 1936 Picasso, features the artist’s famous mistress and muse, Marie-Thérèse Walter. The canvas remained in the artist’s hands until his death, and pre-sale estimates put its price at $15-20 million. The seller is not named.
Another Picasso from a private collection, Plante de Tomate (1944), is estimated at $10-$15 million and was created when the Allies were approaching Paris and the end of Nazi Occupation was in sight, Sotheby’s points out in the sale catalogue.
Several works come from the estate of George Embiricos, the Greek shipping magnate who sold the Cézanne Card Players in 2011 to unknown purchasers for a rumored $250 million. The offerings from his estate, which will be spread over several sales, are estimated to bring upward of $30 million.
Included are a graphic Picasso drawing of a rape, Le Viol (1940), which, the catalogue points out, was created only eight days before the Nazi invasion of France ($4-$6 million), Henry Moore’s Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 (1959), a 6-foot-high bronze sculpture ($3-$5 million), and a Cézanne, Le Femme á l’Hermine, d’aprés le Greco (1885-86), a small oil showing a woman in an ermine wrap, based on an El Greco ($5-$7 million).
A Marcel Duchamp work on paper made using a photograph by Man Ray, Belle Haleine, Eau de Violette (1921), shows Duchamp in the guise of Rrose Sélavy in a design for a perfume label ($1.25-$1.75 million). An actual bottle sold at Christie’s in Paris in 2009 for a hefty $11.5 million, smashing its pre-sale estimate of $1.3-$1.9 million. The present work is from a private European collection.
Two items are on offer from the Cleveland Museum of Art, to raise funds for future acquisitions. The top lot from Cleveland is Monet’s Champ de Blé (1881), showing a wheat field in Lavacourt, near Vétheuil, where the artist was then living ($5-$7 million). The painting was given to the museum in 1947 by Jennie Olive, the widow of Henry White Cannon, president of Chase Bank.
Another museum sale, this one from the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in Washington, D.C., is Picasso’s Mousquetaire au Chapeau. Buste (1967), which is estimated to bring $3-$5 million.