London • March 2024



T his spring, Sotheby’s marks the 150th anniversary since the birth of Impressionism through a carefully curated selection of artworks in the Modern & Contemporary auctions that pay homage to the movement that revolutionised the history of art. Beginning with the trailblazing innovations of the Impressionists, the sales span the birth of Modernism in the early 20th century through to the evolution of Abstract Expressionism and Pop Art.

Explore the top works, collections, and stories of the season and join us for our in-person highlights exhibitions.

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Works From a Distinguished Private Collection

S otheby’s is honoured to present a group of works from a Distinguished Private Collection, offered in London across several sales in March and June 2024, led by the March Modern & Contemporary Art Evening and Day Auctions, and highlighted by Francis Bacon’s Study of George Dyer. Revealing an exacting eye for quality and evincing an eloquent narrative of expressionist figuration, the artworks gathered in this collection encapsulate an enduring fascination with portraiture and the human condition. Principally surveying the thrilling developments in Modern art that took place in painting and sculpture during the twentieth century, these works embody many of the stylistic and technical hallmarks of the artistic masters working at the time. In the diverse range of media presented here, a common thread is clearly discernible: the human form. These paintings, drawings and sculptures are all by artists who have reached the peak of their powers and seek in their depictions to convey the emotions and forces that govern and dictate the human condition. Conjuring visceral responses through both their subject matter and style, these are works with extraordinary emotional and psychological weight which proclaim their essential humanity. Indeed, the core of this collection consists of portraits, anchored by Francis Bacon’s haunting Study of George Dyer from 1970. However, even the landscapes and still lives (by Chaïm Soutine and Henri Hayden)—with their charged gestural handling and vivid colouration—feel as personal and intimate as expressions of individual character.

 The artists assembled here both influenced and found echoes in each other’s work: Soutine famously inspired Bacon’s radical handling of paint; the abstracted features of Jean Dubuffet reflect the faceless forms of Henry Moore; and the intricately modelled surfaces of Henri Matisse’s bronze sculptures resonate with the decorative detailing of Edouard Vuillard. Furthermore, an exquisite group of works on paper by Vincent Van Gogh, Emil Nolde, and Käthe Kollwitz (to be announced on this page at a later date) demonstrate an interest in depictions that not only represented the subject’s emotions, but the artist’s own psychology as well. As a whole, the collection showcases the power of art to assert and reflect the essential power of human creativity.

 Underscoring the collector’s educated eye and respected position within artistic circles is the superlative quality and impeccable provenance of the works selected. Assembled principally in the late 1960s through the 1970s, the collection bespeaks longstanding relationships with many of London’s premier galleries, storied names like Marlborough, Waddington, Crane Kalman, and The Redfern. Leading the group is Francis Bacon’s profound portrait of George Dyer, the last intimately scaled iteration he painted before his lover’s tragic death from an overdose. Acquired from Marlborough Gallery the same year it was created, Study of George Dyer has remained in this distinguished collection for over fifty years.
 
Judiciously selected and tightly curated, this collection constitutes a highly intellectual and immensely sophisticated group of works that is timeless in its ability to convey the forces of the human condition that endure beyond our own mortality. Seamlessly integrated, the intelligent curation of the collection educes a dialogue across both medium and date, with early twentieth century works by Henri Hayden and Matthew Smith dovetailing with later works by artists such as L.S. Lowry and Sydney Kumalo. Taken together, the group speaks to the collector’s own creative eye and rigorous artistic inquiry, and articulates a powerful narrative of expressionist mark-making.

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Highlights From the Collection

Exhibition Information

  • Feb28 Mar6

    London

  • Hours

    Monday–Friday | 9:00 AM–5:00 PMSaturday | 12:00 PM–5:00 PMSunday | 1:00 PM–5:00 PMExhibition closes on 6 March at 12:00 PM

    Location

    34-35 New Bond Street, London W1A 2AA

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