Multiple Artist Records Set in $408.5 Million Sale, Third Highest Value in Sotheby’s History
T he first auction of The New York Sales realized an impressive US$408.5 million, the third highest total for an auction at Sotheby’s. Milton Avery’s The Letter ($6.1 million), Maximilien Luce’s Baigneuses à Saint-Tropez ($4.5 million), Leonora Carrington’s The Garden of Paracelsus ($3.3 million) and Jared French’s The Double ($1.1 million) all set new artist records, while Robert Motherwell’s Elegy to the Spanish Republic No. 59 ($1.2 million) also set an auction record for a work on paper by the artist. Victor Brauner’s Indicateur de l’espace ($945,000) was the artist’s second-most-valuable work to come to auction.
Top 10 Lots from the Modern Evening Auction
From the alluring Impressionist masterpieces of Claude Monet and Pierre-Auguste Renoir to the pioneering Post-Impressionist depictions by Cézanne and the groundbreaking Modernist canvases of Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso and Philip Guston, the Modern Evening Auction will bring together works which exemplify the undaunted spirit of artistic innovation in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Tracing the origins and fulfillment of abstraction from Impressionism through Pointillism, Cubism, Abstract Expressionism and beyond, the May sale will spotlight the critical artistic developments of the last 150 years, uniting those masterworks that define art history as we know it today.
Explore the Exhibition
Never before seen at auction, Pablo Picasso’s inimitable Femme nue couchée presents one of the most extraordinary works painted in the watershed year of 1932. Created at the height of his career-defining romance with Marie-Thérèse Walter, Femme nue couchée captures the artist’s Golden Muse at a sumptuous, languorous recline. Inspired by imaginative Surrealist figuration and Picasso’s ardent devotion to his lover, the composition abounds with sensuous curves, daubs of brilliant color and a rich, sculptural quality that characterize Picasso’s greatest works from this period.
Femme nue couchée
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The Modern Evening Auction is highlighted by one of Claude Monet’s greatest masterpieces—the visionary depiction of Venice from 1908, Le Grand Canal et Santa Maria della Salute. Painted during the artist’s only trip to La Serenissima, this work captures the majesty of a city Monet once called “too beautiful to paint.” The finest example in the limited series painted from the steps of the Palazzo Barbaro, Le Grand Canal et Santa Maria della Salute radiates with an ethereal luminescence and sublime coloration. Monet’s unparalleled ability to capture shifting light and the palpable atmosphere of the city set this work apart, presenting one of the artist’s greatest Venice pictures ever to come to market.
Le Grand Canal et Santa Maria della Salute
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From the renowned collections of the Toledo Museum of Art come three exceptional masterworks by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Epitomizing the evolution of artistic experimentation and bravura from the nineteenth to the twentieth century, these defining paintings showcase the mastery of each artist. In Clairière (The Glade), one of his largest landscapes ever painted, Cézanne defies tradition, challenging conventional notions of perspective with his colliding geometric panes of color. Matisse carries on this legacy in Fleurs, translating similarly flattened planes into a richly patterned, light-filled interior scene epitomal of his finest Nice works. Rounded out by Nu s’essuyant, the jewel-like bather from Renoir’s effulgent late oeuvre, the masterworks from the Toledo Museum of Art will be offered for the first time in more than half a century. All proceeds will be used to support art acquisitions, including a transformative endowment that will support the Museum art purchases in perpetuity.
Making its first public appearance in four decades, Philip Guston’s Abstract Expressionist masterpiece Nile from 1958 is a monumental work that represents the pinnacle of Guston’s abstract practice, and is among the small group of works that established Guston’s reputation as one of the premier artists of 20th century art. Coming to auction for the first time this spring in Sotheby’s Modern Evening Auction, Nile will be offered in tandem with several other exceptional works from the artist’s later, figurative period in the Contemporary Evening Auction, marking a significant moment for the market to celebrate the artist’s legacy as an undeniable master of the post-war period that will coincide with the highly-anticipated Philip Guston Now retrospective opening at the Museum of Fine Arts Boston this May. For more than 40 years, the painting remained in the collection of Peter and Edith O’Donnell of Dallas, Texas, and will be sold in May to benefit the O’Donnell Foundation, whose philanthropic ethos continues Peter and Edith’s selfless legacy of passionately advancing a wide range of higher education causes; innovations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics; medical research and public health programs; and an array of arts and culture initiatives.
This May, Sotheby’s is proud to present Drawn Together: The Collection of Marcia and Stanley Gumberg, featuring Modern Masterworks on Paper, a stunning group of Modernist and Contemporary paintings, drawings and sculptures. Assembled by Marcia and Stanley Gumberg with the utmost connoisseurship and exquisitely displayed in their Pittsburgh home, the seminal works in the Collection represent a visionary summary of both American Abstract Expressionism and European Modernism, the two defining pillars of 20th-century art. Notably, the Collection showcases an extraordinary grouping of 20th-century masterworks on paper at their most striking; from the vigorous lines of Arshile Gorky to the sweeping strokes of Willem de Kooning, the emphatic forms of Robert Motherwell to the lush surfaces of Philip Guston, these works on paper are revelatory of each artist’s true genius and skill. Beyond the caliber of the works on paper, the Gumbergs' unparalleled skill in integrating exceptional works across media creates thrilling dialogues within their Collection, juxtaposing such artists as Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Barnett Newman, Georg Baselitz, Richard Prince and more in a manner both engaging and immersive.
To be offered in Sotheby’s sales across Modern and Contemporary art this spring and summer, the Gumberg Collection will be led by a selection of five works in our May 2022 Modern Evening Auction in New York. This curated grouping will feature Picasso’s richly rendered Mousequetaire à la pipe, buste alongside highlights from the Gumbergs' masterworks on paper, including Gorky’s Fireplace in Virginia and de Kooning’s Leaves of Weehawken, among others. An additional group of artworks, including Philip Guston’s Grove II from 1959, will be offered in our May 2022 Modern Day Auction.
This May, Sotheby’s is delighted to present Eternal Style: Property from a Private American Collection, an exemplary group of paintings and sculptures which together trace important developments in Modern painting and sculpture across Europe and America during a pivotal period of the 20th century. Assembled with an unparalleled eye for quality, rarity, and above all, enduring style, this grouping of works brings together important and iconic touchstones of Modern and Contemporary art within a compelling visual dialogue. Distinguished by their quality and united by their bold color, energy, and tangible joie de vivre, the superb works of Eternal Style together reflect the enduring spirit and vivacity of the discerning collector who assembled this singular grouping.
To be offered in Sotheby’s sales across Modern and Contemporary art this year, this exquisite collection is anchored by a superb sequence of eight works to be offered in our May 2022 Modern Evening Auction in New York. Led by Fernand Léger’s exceptional late painting Le Campeur, étude from 1954, Pablo Picasso’s riveting dual portrait Nu allongé et buste d'homme from 1964, and Jean Dubuffet’s Le Présent se change en passé from 1976, these eight works explore the fascinating narrative of figuration across the last half-century. These paintings are complemented by a quintessential example of Jean Arp’s signature biomorphic abstraction in Torse-gerbe conceived in 1958, Dubuffet’s kaleidoscopic Les Trois Promeneuses from 1971, and Milton Avery’s poignant canvas The Letter from 1945, among several additional highlights.