11 Must-See Works of European Art

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This spring, Sotheby’s European Art department in New York will be offering a number of masterpieces, many of which have not been seen in generations. This diverse collection includes important paintings by French Academic artists Jean-Léon Gérôme and William Bouguereau, Victorian painters such as Albert Moore and Evelyn de Morgan, as well as works by the British Impressionist, Sir Alfred Munnings, and an extraordinary group of paintings by Jean Béraud. Click ahead to see some of the top works on offer.

European Art
24 May | New York

11 Must-See Works of European Art

  • Jean-Léon Gérôme,
Le Combat de Coqs. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    This painting is a réduction of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s Un Combat de Coqs, which was exhibited at the Salon of 1847 and now hangs at the Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Although other réductions of this composition are known, the present work is the only version that is indisputably in the artist’s own hand. Having been placed by Goupil in a number of successive international, aristocratic collections, the early provenance of this painting is quite impressive.

  • John William Godward, Julia. Estimate $750,000–950,000.
    Previously unrecorded and descending in the same family for generations, Julia marks an important rediscovery and adds a masterpiece to John William Godward’s oeuvre. A tour-de-force of colour, form and structural harmonies, this extraordinary painting displays many of the hallmarks of the Aesthetic Movement and represents a marvel of technical virtuosity and artistic invention. Untouched for most of its life, this painting remains in beautiful, original condition.  

  • 
Evelyn Pickering de Morgan, Clytie. Estimate $300,000–500,000.
    This compelling work is an icon among works by Evelyn Pickering de Morgan, one of the most accomplished female artists associated with the Pre-Raphaelites. In de Morgan’s rendition of this story from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, Clytie turns peacefully to shield herself from Apollo’s powerful rays, a relief from the traditional narrative where her gaze is tethered to the blinding sun god for days, before turning into a sunflower.

  • Albert Joseph Moore, Topaz. Estimate $600,000–800,000.
    Albert Moore’s uncompromising pursuit of beauty is on full display in Topaz, recognised as one of the finest works of the artist’s career. Moore chose to exhibit this captivating work at the inaugural exhibition of the Grosvenor Gallery in 1879, and it remains amongst the artist’s most frequently exhibited paintings. The painting’s title acts as a foil for the exquisite color scheme, and is derived from the single amber-colored topaz bead in the necklace of the figure on the right.

  • John Atkinson Grimshaw, The Docks at Liverpool. Estimate $250,000–350,000.
    The Salthouse Docks in Liverpool remain among John Atkinson Grimshaw's most celebrated subjects, and his paintings provide a remarkable record of the ambition of this proud city. Using moonlight to transform the sooty reality of the industrial city, Grimshaw effectively creates an image of romance and mystery, punctuated by gas lamps and a brilliant emerald beam shining from the carriage in silhouette. 

  • Jean Béraud, Le Monologue. Estimate $400,000–600,000.
    Here, Jean Béraud captures a performance by Ernest-Alexandre-Honoré Coquelin (1848-1909), known as Coquelin cadet (the younger). Considered one of the greatest theatrical figures of the late nineteenth century, Coquelin cadet’s likeness was depicted by other notable artists of the fin-de-siècle, among them Anders Zorn, Edouard Vuillard and Auguste Rodin.

  • Jean Béraud, Scène de Grands Boulevards, un jour de pluie. Estimate $300,000–500,000.
    In his pursuit of a naturalistic image, Jean Béraud would observe and sketch the city from his carriage. The present work shows a rain soaked morning on the Boulevard des Italiens, the roof of the Credit Lyonnias in the distance.

  • William Bouguereau, Petite Bergère. Estimate $900,000–1,200,000.
    Peasants provided popular subject matter for artists such as William Bouguereau, and their humble and uncomplicated way of life likely fascinated his urban audiences. In this masterpiece, Bouguereau affords his young shepherdess a monumental stature and paints her in full length, set in front of a landscape, with loosely combed hair and roughly woven dress. 

  • Sir Alfred James Munnings, Portrait of Miss Ruth Brady on Bugle Call. Estimate $1,400,000–1,800,000.
    This vibrant and elegant Portrait of Miss Ruth Brady on Bugle Call was commissioned by the Brady family from Long Island, New York. The relaxed elegance of Ruth, an accomplished equestrienne, riding in a lush summer landscape represents one of the greatest accomplishments among Munnings’s commissioned portraits.  Munnings found incredible success in such stylish paintings, which were inspired by a long tradition of British portraiture.    

  • Charles Hunt Sr., Bluebeard Marries and Bluebeard Foiled. Estimate $120,000–180,000.
    Filled with exotic characters and intrigue, the Brothers Grimm’s Bluebeard, has continued to fascinate and delight readers for generations, It inspired interpretations by countless artists, composers and writers, from Charles Dickens and Jacques Offenbach, to Kurt Vonnegut and Paul Dukas. Charles Hunt has captured the story’s most dramatic moments in a pair of paintings, where a young troop of actors prepare their costumes and props for their performance of the gruesome tale of Bluebeard and his many wives.

  • Jean-François Millet, Sheep Grazing along a Hedgerow. Estimate $200,000–300,000.
    Jean-François Millet painted Sheep Grazing along a Hedgerow, which has not been seen since it was last sold in 1951, in 1861-1862 for Urbain Calmette, an eccentric bookseller who became a close friend and patron. The scene is of the artist’s native Normandy and is a variant of another picture Millet had completed earlier in 1861 for the dealers Ennemond Blanc and Arthur Stevens, now at The Chiba Prefectural Museum of Art, Japan. The small flock of sheep are watched over by a blue tunicked farmer barely seen in the foliage on the right. 

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