ZURICH—In its auction of Swiss art on Sept. 21, Christie’s sold 120 lots—79 percent of the 151 lots offered—for a total of CHF16.3million ($15.75million). More than half of the total was produced by the three top lots, by Ferdinand Hodler (1853–1918) and Giovanni Giacometti.
Hodler’s mountain landscape Eiger, Mönch und Jungfrau von Beatenberg aus, 1910, and his Femme joyeuse, 1909, both came from a Swiss private collection and had not been on the market since 1938. Both were sold near their reserves to anonymous phone bidders, the former for CHF4.2million (estimate: CHF4million/6million), and the latter for CHF3million (estimate: CHF3million/5million). But Giacometti’s Mattino d’inverno, 1914, more than doubled its high estimate of CHF900,000, selling for CHF2.2 million ($2.1million) to a private Swiss buyer on the phone.
Highly selective bidding yielded several other surprises: Hodler’s Self Portrait, ca. 1912, climbed to nearly four times its CHF250,000/350,000 estimate and was sold for CHF1.2million ($1.16million) to J&P Fine Art, Zurich. The gallery is owned by Beda Jedlicka, former Christie’s Swiss-art expert, and Stefan Puttaert, former director of the Zurich branch of Phillips, de Pury & Luxembourg. Hodler’s small painting The Little Fisher, ca. 1879, brought a price of CHF504,000 ($489,384) on an estimate of CHF80,000/120,000. Felix Vallotton’s Italian landscape L’escalier du couvent San Marco, Perugia, 1913, depicting the long stairs leading to the San Marco Monastery at Perugia, exceeded its CHF300,000/500,000 estimate to sell for CHF816,000 ($790,131) to an anonymous Swiss bidder in the room. Frank Buchser’s Portrait of Mrs. S, 1854, depicting a young English lady, far surpassed its estimate of CHF80,000/100,000, selling for CHF288,000 ($279,648).
CHRISTIAN VON FABER-CASTELL