PARIS—Among the offerings at the Impressionist and modern art sale held by Christie’s France on Dec. 3—one of the house’s two December sales totaling €30.1 million ($44.4 million)—were works by Georges Braque, André Masson and Pablo Picasso. The sale realized €14.3 million ($20.9 million); of the 230 lots on offer, 211, or 92 percent, found buyers.
An 1883 drawing in ink and Conté crayon by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, La danse à la campagne (estimate: €400,000/600,000), fell to an American collector for €838,650 ($1.2 million), thus setting the record at auction for a Renoir drawing.
The auction leader, Fernand Léger’s oil-on- canvas Composition, 1930, also generously topped its high estimate of €1 million when it fell to a European gallery for €1.8 million ($2.7 million). Alfred Sisley’s oil painting Tournant du Loing à Moret, printemps, 1886, sold within its estimate (€900,000/1.5 million) for €1.1 million, or $1.7 million, to a South-American collector.
Henri Matisse’s 1941 drawing, Femme au fauteuil, estimated at €500,000/700,000, sold to an American collector for €816,250 ($1.2 million). Three works by Picasso also fetched high prices, including an oil painting of a 1922 still life, estimated at €150,000/250,000, which brought €324,250 ($475,026). Christie’s specialist Anika Guntrum reports that 75% of the buyers, in the room and on the phone, were Europeans; 17%, Americans. She notes that “the diversity of the offerings contributed greatly to the success of the auction.”
More Records at Christie’s Contemporary Sale
Christie’s sale of postwar and contemporary art, on Dec. 11-12, totaled €15.9 million ($23.3 million). Of the 321 lots offered, 228, or 71 percent, were sold. Among the three records set was a painting by the “Figuration Narrative” painter Erro (b. 1932), an Icelandic-born artist based in Paris and known for his colorful, comic-strip-inspired works. Comicscape, 1971, which was estimated at €300,000/400,000, sold for €838,650 ($1.2 million), a record for the artist at auction. Another record for a work at auction was achieved for Georges Mathieu’s painting La mort de Charles le Téméraire, 1957, which sold for €336,250 ($494,288), within its estimated €280,000/350,000. The last, another world record, was for Hervé Télémaque, whose 1962 diptych in oil, Portrait de famille, went for €366,250 ($538,388) to a private French collector.
Other impressive sale results: Joan Mitchell’s Mandres, 1961-62, made €2.44 million ($3.6 million), close to its high estimate of €2.5 million; a 1959 canvas by French abstract painter Pierre Soulages (estimate: €750,000/950,000) went to a European collector for €1.06 million ($1.6 million); a 1946 oil painting by Hans Hartung was snapped up for €547,450 ($804,752), beating its high estimate of €400,000; and Zao Wou-Ki’s oil painting 21.11.71 also largely surpassed its high estimate (estimate: €200,000/300,000), going to a European collector for €513,850 ($755,360).
Florence de Botton, who heads the postwar and contemporary art department at Christie’s, says that buyers “responded positively to the high quality of the lots on offer.” She notes that 82% of the buyers were European; 10%, Americans; and 5%, Asian.