A striking Maurice Denis canvas entitled Le martyre de Saint-Sebastien (1893) was the surprise top lot at Bonhams' impressionist and modern art auction yesterday (February 5). The artistically innovative canvas brought £265,250 ($414,977) to the London sale, representing a 657.9% increase on the piece's £35,000 high estimate.
French symbolist painter Denis (1870-1943) was a prominent member of the Les Nabis movement - "nabis" meaning prophet in Hebrew. The correlation between his work and Catholic faith, characteristic of the movement as a whole, is strongly in evidence in Le martyre de Saint-Sebastien, which depicts a group of four mourning women dressed in white and carrying a shroud toward the lately martyred Saint Sebastian.
Although works by Denis have previously put in strong performances at auction - Coucher de Soleil a Pittsburgh sold for $164,500 at Sotheby's in January earlier this year - $414,977 represents a new auction record for a work by the artist at auction.
Camille Pissarro's (1830-1903) Falaises aux Petites-Dalles (1883) - a rare seascape by the notable French impressionist - also performed well, bringing £163,250 ($255,466) having been given a £150,000-200,000 estimate.
February is set to be an exciting month for those invested in the art market, with an Andy Warhol (1928-1987) online auction set to feature 125 works by the American pop artist. Here at Paul Fraser Collectibles we are lucky enough to be able to offer this iconic Warhol-worn black polo neck for sale.
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