The sale brought a total of £4,285,600, far exceeding the pre-sale low estimate of £2.7 million. The results constitute one of the highest totals in this category’s history at Sotheby’s London. The two top lots were both rare woodcuts by Edvard Munch, continuing the artist’s market dominance in his 150th anniversary year. The top lot was Melancholy I, which sold for £962,500, followed by Two Women on the Shore at £626,500. Both prices set world records for these subjects. Another highlight of the sale, the rare Les deux Saltimbanques by Pablo Picasso from the collection of the late Stanley Seeger sold for £60,000, again making the record price for this subject by the Spanish master. Exceptional prices were also achieved for a group of Rembrandt self-portraits, with 12 lots selling for £213,750 against a low estimate of £44,000. Following the great success of March’s single owner collection sale, the Picasso Ceramics section was 100% sold at £602,500 against a low of £226,600.
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of Edvard Munch, Norway’s greatest painter and printmaker. Sotheby’s London is privileged to mark this tribute to the artist by offering a small selection of some of his renowned prints for sale, among them an extraordinary version of one of his earliest woodcuts Evening Melancholy I (1896), the extremely rare Two Women on the Shore (1898) in a striking combination of colours, and an early impression of Encounter in Space(1898 – 99).
The Modern section of the sale is particularly strong as it also includes a spectacular selection of etchings and drypoints by Pablo Picasso from the collection of the late Stanley Seeger. Among the earliest in the collection are Les deux saltimbanques and Le saltimbanque au repos, which were pulled in 1905 by the Montmartre printer Eugène Delâtre before the plate was steel-faced. The impression of Les deux saltimbanques is particularly fine and of unobtainable rarity as it is the only known impression of the second state of this subject. Picasso’s first known monotype, Portrait de femme à la mantille (late 1905) is also part of the collection and comes from a distinguished provenance at it was in the collection of the dealer Ambroise Vollard for many years. In his later years, Seeger also added several outstanding Old Master prints to his collection such as engravings by and After Andrea Mantegna.
Other highlights from this area include a number of portraits by Rembrandt, including eight scarce self-portraits and an extremely rare working proof from Los desastres de la guerra by Goya. This section also features a Private Italian Collection offering works by Albrecht Dürer, Marcantonio Raimondi and Andrea Mantegna, among others.
Concluding the sale is the Contemporary and Pop section with a remarkable group of prints by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. The Warhol section leads with a unique screenprint of a powerful and striking subject who is none other than Andy Warhol himself.
In addition to this exceptional selection of prints, Sotheby’s are proud to offer a group of just over 100 ceramics by Pablo Picasso from various private collections. Ranging in estimate from £800 to £15,000, this selection represents the sculptural and decorative power of the master’s work in ceramic.