NEW YORK—Doyle auctioneers’ sale of modern and contemporary European and American art in Manhattan on May 23 grossed $6.9 million and was 85 percent sold by lot, 95 percent by value.
The star lot of the sale was Rote Leiber, by Oskar Schlemmer (1888-1943), a 1929 painting executed after the artist “abandoned his earlier abstract style and began to paint semi-Cubist figurative subjects that reflected his interest in dance,” according to the Doyle catalogue description. Estimated at $2/2.5 million, the painting fetched $2.48 million from an anonymous New York buyer bidding via phone.
Another highlight of the sale was Un beau matin d’été, 1905, by Henri Matisse, an early Fauvist landscape that sold over-estimate for $1.1 million to a European buyer (estimate: $700,000/900,000). The work was one of 15 canvases Matisse produced during a 14-week stay at Collioure, a fishing village on the Mediterranean Sea near the Spanish border, according to Doyle. The painting—the cover lot of the catalogue— is significant, Doyle reports, because at that time the artist, “accompanied by André Derain, abandoned Neo-Impressionism and began to paint in a manner that emphasized brilliant but deliberately unnatural, even distorted, color.”
Prices realized by the Schlemmer and Matisse works accounted for more than half the auction total. Among other highlights: Blue Variations, circa 1962, by José Guerrero (1914-1991), was sold on behalf of the Brooklyn Museum. The $114,000 price was substantially higher than the modest $3,000/4,000 estimate. Late Afternoon in the Hills, 1939, by Charles Burchfield (estimate: $80,000/120,000), brought $108,000; and Willows in Winter (estimate: $80,000/120,000), by Ernest Lawson (1873-1939), took $114,000.