Sotheby's concluded its Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art last night (Wednesday, May 5). It was a busy auction, with many bidders sparring over the most coveted and collectible works.
Claude Monet's Effet de printemps à Giverny is a landscape which exemplifies the artist's life-long commitment to painting en plein air and exploring the effects of weather conditions and light at different times of the day on the surrounding landscape.
Painted in the plain of Les Essarts, this work depicts the green expanses not far from the artist's home in Giverny. Monet evidently took great joy in depicting this colourful landscape, as he painted the same view in another three compositions, exploring the effects of light at different times of the day.
Offered with a guide price of $10m-15m, the oil painting was pressed past this to $15.2m.
Amedeo Modigliani's Jeanne Hébuterne au collier, is believed to be the artist's first painting of his future wife and muse. Their relationship was close until it was ended by his death aged just 35 from tubercular meningitis and her tragic suicide, which followed almost immediately.
The work synthesizes the bold stylistic traits which Modigliani developed in his post-1916 portraits: the geometric simplification of the female form; the S-shaped curve of her body; the elongated neck; the head tilted to one side with almond shaped eyes.
Bidders were impressed, and the work sold for $13.8m against an estimate of $8m-12m.
The top lot, however, as expected was Henri Matisse's joyful Bouquet de Fleurs pour le Quatorze Juillet. The 1919 work was an expression of the artist's delight at the new hope offered following the First World War, during which he had struggled.
"I am the happiest man in the word," he told a reporter in Paris a month before completing the painting. This, and Matisse's thinking that,
"For me, the subject of a picture and its background have the same value, or, to put it more clearly, there is no principal feature, only the pattern is important. The picture is formed by the combination of surfaces, differently coloured."
...are expressed clearly in the painting, which beat even its expected price of $18m-25m, selling for $28.6m to an equally happy bidder.
The sale, alongside the record-breaking sale yesterday of Picasso's Nude, Leaves and Bust show that the market for rare and valuable works remains ripe for investment.
- More news on Art
- Enjoy the read? Don't forget to sign up for your free newsletter with exclusive content