Actual Size: The Smallest Things Pack the Strongest Punch

Launch Slideshow

Sotheby’s will host a first-of-its-kind auction on 21 June as it brings together a range of exceptional paintings, sculptures and works on paper from across the 20th and 21st centuries which share one common characteristic – each one is no bigger than the size of the catalogue page on which it is illustrated, in actual size. The auction will bring new perspectives to some of the most celebrated artists in modern history including Picasso, Miró, Dalí, Freud, Fontana and Manzoni. Click ahead to see highlights and to discover how it’s often the smallest things that pack the strongest punch.

Actual Size: A Curated Evening Sale
London | 21 June 2017

Actual Size: The Smallest Things Pack the Strongest Punch

  • Alexander Calder, Tres Puntos Blancos sobre Rojo, Amarillo y Azul. Estimate £500,000–700,000.
    Featuring a constellation of three white metal discs delicately suspended in space, Alexander Calder’s  Tres Puntos Blancos sobre Rojo, Amarillo y Azul (Three White Dots on Red, Yellow and Blue) is an elegant example of Calder's internationally famous mobiles. By 1955, Calder was in the prime of his career and this work possesses all the fluency and dynamism that had seen the artist win the grand prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale only two years previously.

  • Edward Ruscha, Blue Scream. Estimate £700,000–1,000,000.
    Blue Scream  is a vibrant gem-like example of Ed Ruscha’s celebrated series of text paintings. Coming from the earliest phase of his career, this work reveals the artist’s fascination with language and text and his preoccupation with the ideas and aesthetic of American cinema. Combining bold graphics and saturated colours the work exemplifies Ruscha’s fundamental contribution to the Pop Art movement.


  • Property from a European Private Collection, Ambrosius Bosschaert the Elder, Still life of flowers in a Berkemeijer glass beaker. Estimate £2,000,000–3,000,000.
    Ambrosius Bosschaert was one of the very first artists to specialise in still-life painting. In his finest works such as this he rendered his subject with a meticulous naturalism leading to the suggestion that it might have been commissioned by a botanist. The smooth surface of the copper lends this work a rich enamel-like finish which combines with the extraordinary detailing of the flowers and insects to lend this small panel a richness which transcends its scale.

  • Lucian Freud, Strawberries. Estimate £550,000–750,000.
    This jewel-like depiction of strawberries encapsulates the intensity of purpose and technical virtuosity that has marked Freud as a master of his generation. Forensically observed down to its smallest detail, the all-over composition of  Strawberries  is delicately articulated in modulating tones of succulent reds and verdant greens. Painted in 1950, this intimate work was presented by the young Freud to Ann, Lady Rothermere who was an early and passionate supporter of the painter, famously sitting for a portrait by him in the same year.

  • Property from an Important Private European Collection, Vincent van Gogh, Un Coin de jardin à Arles. Estimate £1,500,000–2,000,000.
    Van Gogh’s  Un Coin de jardin à Arles  belongs to a group of fifteen drawings executed in the early summer months of 1888 which he sent to his friend and fellow-artist Emile Bernard. The subject of the garden appealed to Van Gogh who referred to it in letters to his brother and produced both drawings and oil paintings of the view. This depiction combines a remarkable control and concision in the handling with a vivid sense of the moment in an exquisite example of Van Gogh’s work in this medium.

  • Property from a Private European Collection, Paul Cézanne, Baigneuses, La Montagne Sainte-Victoire au fond. Estimate £4,000,000–6,000,000.
    Brilliantly coloured and sublimely composed,  Baigneuses, La Montagne Saint-Victoire au fond  combines two of the most important subjects of Cézanne’s œuvre – bathers and the majestic Montagne Sainte-Victoire. The legacy of Cézanne’s late works was far-reaching; they inspired a subsequent generation of artists, most notably the Cubists, and paved the way for many of the key developments of twentieth century art.

  • Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale. Estimate £250,000–350,000.
    Veiled in a shimmering, golden glittered surface Concetto Spaziale is a combination of the most important motifs of Fontana’s career – the egg, the sun, the puncture. Executed in 1966, it is a sublime example of the Abstract Spatialism that was central to the revolution in painting and sculpture that occurred in the middle of the twentieth century.

  • © Succession Picasso/DACS 2017
    Pablo Picasso , Femme endormie. Estimate £ 2,000,000–3,000,000.
    Femme endormie depicts the artist’s young lover, Marie-Thérèse, who he had first met on the streets of Paris in 1927. Picasso's renderings of Marie-Thérèse are erotically charged, often showing her in a state of sleep or carefree abandon. Captivated by her youthful, unpredictable spirit as well as by her voluptuous physique, the works relating to her are often regarded as Picasso’s most sensuous and euphoric.


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