S otheby’s Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale presents a rich array of paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics from the foremost artists of the late-19th and 20th centuries. Led by Max Pechstein’s magnificent painting, Der Mühlengraben (The Mill Stream), this sale includes a number of outstanding works from German artists, exemplifying the creative vitality associated with the birth of Modernism.
The variety of sculptures on offer are bookended by a large-scale bronze by Auguste Rodin conceived in 1875 and a stone, bamboo and plaster sculpture by Kurt Schwitters, dating to 1947. The extraordinary range of works demonstrates the dramatic changes to concepts of representation in art during this period, as figuration evolved into abstraction.
From Stunning Landscapes to Surrealism | Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale
Sotheby’s is delighted to bring to the market for the first time three works from the collection of Kurt Schwitters’s companion and muse Edith Thomas. Executed during the artist’s British period, these works capture Schwitters’s mature Modernist flair.
Central to the sale is a selection of Surrealist works, among which count a mesmerising oil by Leonor Fini and three papier-maché masks by Leonora Carrington. Evincing a striking depth of creativity and originality, these works embody the visionary spirit of their makers; great friends, as they were great artists, Carrington once wrote to Fini: “never never will I become passive or docile”.
Sotheby’s is also pleased to include a selection of works on paper and ceramics by Pablo Picasso, sold by his granddaughter, Marina. Further highlights include works by Théo van Rysselberghe, Claude Monet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Marc Chagall, Francis Picabia, Joan Miró, Gino Severini and Edvard Munch.
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Honoré Daumier’s Le banc des avocats
Le banc des avocats comes directly from the collection of Henry Moore and has been recently restituted to the heirs of Anna Caspari, to whom the work originally belonged. Moore long admired Daumier for his exceptional ability to distill a sculptural quality into his painting.
The work is a wonderful example of the most celebrated theme of Honoré Daumier’s œuvre - expressive images of French nobility, politicians, magistrates, lawyers and other bureaucrats that offered pointed critiques of contemporary society and captured the flavour of modern life in 19th century France.
“It was a new and wonderful experience for me. I knew very little of art. I was just an ordinary London girl who knew Turner, Constable and Gainsborough. I was terribly thrilled when I saw an abstract painting for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the beauty of colour, form and imagination.”
Painter, sculptor, graphic designer, poet, and writer, German artist Kurt Schwitters was one of the most engaging and innovative mavericks of the 20th Century. While his early experiments in collage and installation art have garnered much critical acclaim, his later work has generally received less attention. Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art sale in March offers three of the artist’s later works which wonderfully highlight his artistic evolution as a continuum of his early œuvre. Central to Schwitters work from 1942 onwards is the artist’s companion and muse, Edith Thomas, from whose collection these works are from.
Auguste Rodin's Age d’Airain
Age d’Airain, Auguste Rodin’s earliest surviving life-size figure marks an innovative milestone in modern sculpture. Modeled over an eighteen month period and based on a live model, Age d’Airain captures what Rodin himself described as the "[slow] awakening...from a deep dream.” From the celebrated collection of the late Louis J. C. Tan, the present lot was cast in bronze in 1956 and is a reduced version of the original cast. There are nineteen known casts of this reduction, one of which is housed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.