The Modernités and Impressionist and Modern Art auctions at Sotheby's Paris on 16 and 17 October will pay tribute to Belgium and its artists with a group that includes nine works by the emblematic painter Anto Carte, who has set Parisian auction houses ablaze over the past few years. The collection comes from a family of aesthetes who acquired over the course of time this series by an artist they saw as transcending all trends, between modernity and the decorative arts.
A painter dedicated to the human condition, Anto Carte was part of the Belgian Imagists group along with Valerius de Saedeleer or Gustave van de Woestyne, with whom he exhibited in 1923 in Paris. His work is characterised by a precision of line and he would later found the Nervia Group of artists, that operated between 1928 and 1938, with the painter Louis Buisseret and the insurer Léon Eeckman.
The Eeckman family continued to support the artistic circle with the aim of backing young artists from the Hainault region such as Frans Depooter, Léon Devos, Léon Navez, Taf Wallet and increasing the value of Walloon art, dimmed by the shadow of Flemish expressionism.
The collection comprises five oil paintings including major works bearing the mark of the artist and portraying his preferred subjects: the life of workers and sailors, acrobats, childhood among others.
This group is completed by four works from the distinguished Tony Herbert collection, who became interested early on in the work of Gustave De Smet.
Among the last works still kept in private collections, can be found two masterpieces from 1937: La dame au manteau (Woman in a Coat) and Jeune fille au torse nu (Young Girl with Naked Torso). La dame au manteau is one of the artists most representative works and is among the most exhibited and reproduced of his pieces.
Finally, Belgian art would not be fully represented if it were not for the work Locomotive by René Magritte (1898-1967). The painting was made during the artist’s abstract period, but where a questioning of reality is already underway.
Magritte confirmed this tendency in 1938 during a conference entitled La ligne de vie (The Line of Life): “I end up by finding in the appearance of the real world itself the same abstraction as in my paintings”, thus marking his return to realism through the vector of surrealism.
Painted in grey in 1940, L’Incorruptible is particularly revealing of Magritte’s state of mind at the very beginning of the war. Bearing witness to these troubled times, L’Incorruptible depicts the sculpted head of Georgette, the painter’s wife and muse, in a desolate landscape, echoing the artist’s torments. It is one of the last works where the reference to the war is barely concealed; the landscape depicted is reminiscent of devastated battlefields devoid of life.