Bidders came out in droves to testify the genius of Bernard Boutet de Monvel. In the first of two days of sales at Sotheby’s in Paris, nearly 500 collectors from across the globe bid on works from the personal collection of the French artist who lived a life worthy of a Fitzgerald novel.
The previous auction record for the artist was broken twice. His iconic self-portrait at the Ritz sold for €1,743,000 ($1,990,157) followed by his magnificent portrait of the Maharajah of Indore, which soared to €2,499,000 ($2,853,358). These and many other pieces achieved prices well in excess of their pre-sale estimates. 86% of the lots sold above their high estimate and 97% found a buyer. Together they realised a combined total of over €7.4 million ($8.4 million), well in excess of the pre-sale low estimate for the entire two days of €1.8–2.8 million.
Testament to the importance of Bernard Boutet de Monvel’s oeuvre in the history of art, four works by the artist offered tonight were bought by French museums: the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée de Poitiers and the Musée franco-américain du Château Blérancourt.
This exceptional sale will offer collectors a unique opportunity to discover a major ensemble of works by Bernard Boutet de Monvel (1881-1949). The collection was preserved by the artist’s descendants in his home and studio in Paris’ chic 7th arrondissement. Paintings and drawings by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel (1850 -1913), Bernard’s father, will accompany this remarkable group of works.
We are proud to present this collection, which illustrates the numerous aspects of Boutet de Monvel’s art. These range from decorative projects to illustrations for French and American magazines (such as La Gazette du BonTon or Harper’s Bazaar), and from orientalist paintings to landscapes and portraits. Defined by both sophistication and modernity, these works reveal the photographic quality of the artist’s complex, almost hyperreal technique.
A fascination with geometry, simplicity and stylisation characterises his art, and demonstrate his ties with the Art Déco world and its primary figures, such as Jean-Michel Frank. A number of pieces of furniture bought directly from Franck by Boutet de Monvel will also be presented at auction. Bernard Boutet de Monvel’s style and personality, along with his French elegance and charm, won over the Americans who would eventually crown him “the handsomest man in Europe”! His notoriety in the United States was widespread from the 1920s onwards, with exhibitions and retrospectives all bearing witness to his tremendous talent.
Sotheby’s will thus offer everyone an opportunity to acquire a work by Bernard Boutet de Monvel, as testimony to the brilliant and cosmopolitan times he was part of and contributed to in such a major way.