Sotheby’s To Sell a Major Painting by Paul Gauguin

An important work of post-Impressionist art by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) is among the highlights of Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and Modern Art in London on the evening of Monday, June 23, 2003. Paul Gauguin’s L’Apparition was last seen in public in 1944 when it was acquired by the family of the present owners at auction at Parke Bernet in New York. Its re-emergence now, in the centenary year of the artist’s death, will be an event of exceptional interest to collectors and scholars alike. It is estimated to fetch £7,000,000-9,000,000.

In 1892 Paul Gauguin set off from France on one of the most famous artistic journeys ever undertaken, to the South Seas. He spent most of the remainder of his life in the now legendary search for what he described as ‘ecstasy, calm and art’, in the innocence of a primitive society untainted by the ‘European struggle for money’.

L’Apparition was painted in 1902, when the artist had moved on from Tahiti to the island of Hivaoa, where life was more savage and the scenery wilder. It was here that Gauguin became particularly interested in the mythical, spiritual quality of his surroundings. In L’Apparition the physical beauty of primeval nature is rendered with lush, vibrant colors, but there is a further element of mystery and otherworldliness. The cloaked figure on the left has been identified a feared local magician called Haapuani. The painting is powerful testament to the artist’s ideal of a mystic harmony between man and nature.

Another important post-Impressionist work in the sale is Sous Bois by Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) – left. Painted in 1897-98, this landscape belongs to the climactic phase of the artist’s career, during which he executed a number of works that were to have a pivotal influence on the development of 20th Century Art. The roots of Cubism and Abstraction are recognizable in Sous Bois, which has not been seen for 20 years and is expected to fetch £3,000,000-4,000,000.

Spanning almost the entirety of Pablo Picasso’s (1881-1973) working life are two exceptional paintings from either end of his prodigious career. The earlier work is a magnificently colorful bullfighting scene painted in Barcelona in 1901. Courses de Taureaux shows a bullring in searing sunlight, a treatment of a traditional Spanish subject with a newly-acquired French vividness of colour. It is expected to fetch £1,500,000-2,000,000. The later painting, Le Baiser of 1969, is a beautifully resolved and erotically charged composition which bears witness to the artist’s enduring strength and invention. It is estimated at £1,200,000-1,800,000.

There are also excellent works by Munch, Miro and Magritte in the sale. From Åsgårdstrand by Edvard Munch (1863-1944) is a vibrant landscape painted in 1904. Executed in the coastal village where the artist had a house, the painting illustrates how extraordinarily advanced as an Expressionist Munch was at the time. It is expected to fetch £1,200,000-1,800,000.

Le Pèlerin, by René Magritte (1898-1967) is dominated by the image of the bowler-hatted man – the single most iconic motif of the artist’s oeuvre. A classic example of Surrealism, executed in 1966, the painting is estimated at £2,500,000-3,500,000. Another major work by the artist is L’Acte de Foi of 1960, showing a door that is simultaneously open and closed. It is estimated at £900,000-1,200,000.

Joan Miró (1893-1983) painted Personnages et étoile in 1949. It is another important Surrealist work, in which the artist revisits the languages of his major Constellation series. It is expected to fetch £1,500,000-2,000,000.

The sale also includes Egon Schiele’s recently restituted landscape masterpiece Krumauer Landschaft.

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Published in: on June 4, 2003 at 4:52 am  Leave a Comment  
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