The Prints & Multiples auction raised a total of £4.3 million against a pre-sale estimate of £2.5-3.7 million. Edvard Munch’s rare woodcut Two Human Beings. The Lonely Ones – purchased directly from the artist in 1942 by one of his most ardent supporters – was driven by bidders to £1.57 million, far exceeding its estimate (£400,000-600,000) and establishing an auction record for a print of this subject by Munch. An important private collection of graphic works by Belgian artist James Ensor brought £406,875.
Séverine Nackers, Head of Prints, Sotheby’s Europe, said: “Today’s sale was led by a group of 20th-century artists who embraced printmaking and elevated this practice to the same level as their work in other media. Munch, Kirchner, Warhol, Picasso and Ensor are universally recognised for their innovations in printmaking – pushing the medium to its greatest effects.”
Sotheby’s SeptemberPrints & Multiplessale will begin with a single-owner session of prints by James Ensor. This near-complete private collection comprises some of the artist’s most sought-after subjects such as La Belgique au XIXe siècle and Alimentation Doctrinaire.
Old Master highlights of the various-owner section of the sale include Louis-Jean Desprez’s scarce and fantastical etching, La Chimère de Monsieur Desprez,and a superb impression of Jusepe de Ribera’s The Poet.
Master prints of the modern period are extremely well-represented: a jewel-toned impression of Edvard Munch’s Two Human Beings. The Lonely Ones and his 1895 Self-Portrait will be offered with important examples of German Expressionism from the collection of Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln. These works will be presented alongside a distinguished European collection of prints by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, including the extremely rare subjects: Promenade vor dem Café, Akte auf einem Teppich and Zwei Frauen, as well as a particularly vibrant impression of Drei Akte im Walde.
The contemporary section of the sale will be led by Andy Warhol’s striking portfolioShadows II; while it will also include works by momentous post-war practitioners such as Roy Lichtenstein, Joseph Beuys, Gerhard Richter and Francis Bacon.