LONDON – On a night that witnessed enthusiasm from collectors eagerly vying for exceptional works of art, the moment clearly belonged to Claude Monet. Five works by Monet totaled £55.7 million ($83.8 million), driving the sale to £186.4 million ($280.2 million), the highest total for any auction ever held in London. Leading the way was Monet’s Le Grand Canal, an exceptionally rare and beautiful painting from one of the artist’s most esteemed series, executed in Venice in 1908 (£23.7 million; $35.6 million). The artist’s Les Peupliers à Giverny and L’Embarcadère both soared past their high estimates, each selling in excess of £10 million ($13.4 million), and his Antibes vue de la Salis, a dazzling view of the south coast of France, surpassed its high estimate and sold for £8.8 million ($11.7 million).

Auctioneer Henry Wyndham at the rostrum for the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening sale in London.

Among the other highlights was Henri Matisse’s exquisite portrait Odalisque au fauteuil noir sold for £15.83 million ($23.79 million), surpassing its high estimate of £12 million. Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Au Lit: Le Baiser from 1892 brought £10.79 million ($16.21 million). The work had never appeared at auction before, and had not been exhibited publicly for more than four decades. Such top-tier works by Lautrec are exceedingly rare at auction and the market’s desire for pictures of such quality was palpable.

Henri Matisse’s Odalisque au Fauteuil Noir sold for £15,829,000.
Claude Monet’s Le Grand Canal sold for £23,669,000.
Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Au Lit: Le Baiser sold for £10,789,000.
Claude Monet’s Les Peupliers à Giverny sold for £10,789,000.