Dalí's Haunting "Dream of Venus" and the Universal Spirituality of a Jawlensky Abstract Head

Launch Slideshow

Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale on 27 February is led by Théo van Rysselberghe’s A l’ombre des pins (Agay) or Sous les pins (Agay) from 1905, as well as important works by Degas, Renoir, Moore and Dali. The sale also features a compelling selection of German and Russian works of art from the collection of Dr. Erika Pohl-Ströher, including an extraordinary Abstrakter kopf, by Alexej von Jawlensky. Click the image above to view the slideshow.

Dalí's Haunting "Dream of Venus" and the Universal Spirituality of a Jawlensky Abstract Head

  • Théo van Rysselberghe, À l'ombre des pins (Agay) or Sous les pins (Agay), 1905
    Estimate £400,000–600,000
    Completed in 1905, this work is a prime example of Théo van Rysselberghe’s celebrated pointillist style which effortlessly conveys the blissful light and colours of the Mediterranean seaside. Against the flawless backdrop of a turquoise and cobalt sea, the viewer is invited to enter this serene world of inner contemplation. It is a painting that heralds the avant-garde idiom of Neo-Expressionism but attests to the evolution of van Rysellberghe’s personal style.
  • Edgar Degas, Danseuse, position de quatrième devant sur la jambe gauche, Conceived between circa 1883 and 1911
    Estimate £250,000–350,000
    Harmoniously balanced and gracefully poised, Danseuse, position de quatrième devant sur la jambe gauche is a masterfully constructed bronze that epitomises Degas’ engagement with every muscle and sinew of his dancers, capturing their elegant flexibility and stern discipline in a demanding and dynamic pose. Exemplifying the artist’s skill, the work tangibly manifests Degas’ enthusiasm for both sculpture and dance, demonstrated by the carves, marks, indentations and textures that are testament to the artist’s vigorous working.
  • Salvador Dalí, Dream of Venus (Rêve de Vénus),1939
    Estimate £120,000–180,000
    Dream of Venus is a study for Salvador Dalí’s ambitious and elaborate pavilion envisioned for the New York World’s Fair in 1939, reflecting a three-dimensional manifestation of the artist’s subconscious. In this study, we catch a glimpse of the surrealist house that Dalí created, in which pure geometric forms are brought to life as fleshy and amorphous figures. The symbolic fourth wall crashes down through the perspectival illusion of the receding landscape and in typical fashion, Dalí’s figures cast long shadows, filling the landscape in a poetic allegory in which the transcendence of space corresponds to a transcendence of time.
  • Henry Moore, Two People Looking at a Sculpture - recto, Figure Studies - verso, 1942, Estimate £120,000–180,000
    A consummate and innovative draughtsman, Henry Moore used his drawings, especially during the war years when he could not sculpt, to study the structure of objects and investigate the nature of form, charting new possibilities for his art. This double-sided work exemplifies the highly important technical and stylistic developments Moore achieved and showcases detailed studies of the artist’s most celebrated themes such as the reclining form and groups of people in a setting that is reminiscent of the narrow-tunnelled alleys of the underground.
  • Marc Chagall, Nu à la montagne, 1967
    Estimate £200,000–300,000
    In the vibrantly charged Nu à la montagne, Chagall depicts a lounging nude in a landscape whilst her lover gazes admiringly on. Romance is a recurring theme in Chagall’s œuvre, often referencing his first wife Bella, who unexpectedly passed away in 1944 but remained his muse throughout his career. Intimately rendered, the man’s longing is reciprocated by the woman's wide eyes.
  • Paul Élie Ranson, Nu se coiffant au bord de l'étang, circa 1897
    Estimate £300,000–500,000
    A masterpiece from Ranson’s mature period, the artist has employed to masterful effect the flat planes of colour and simplified forms which the Nabis believed were a means of attaining a greater level of spirituality through art. Nu se coiffant au bord de l'étang evokes an atmosphere of meditative mysticism by combining his two paramount motifs: the woman and the forest and demonstrates the overwhelming impact of Japanese art on Ranson’s artistic output.
  • Auguste Rodin, Le Baiser, 2ème réduction dit aussi no. 4, Conceived in 1886
    Estimate £300,000–400,000
    Le Baiser is one of Rodin's best-known and most highly regarded sculptures. The lovers are depicted in the throws of a passionate kiss, portraying the story of the ill-fated lovers, Paolo and Francesca, from Dante’s La Commedia, who were doomed to spend eternity in an embrace for their adulterous passion. The sensuality of the work has made Le Baiser one of the most celebrated images in Western art.
  • Pablo Picasso, Tête d'homme, 1969, Estimate £350,000–450,000
    In Picasso’s late œuvre, the artist recurrently depicted himself in the guise of the virile and adventurous musketeer and Tête d’homme exhibits the artist’s talent for using iconography shared by Old Master painters but rendering it in a strikingly fresh and gestural way. The theme of the musketeer withholds personal qualities of Picasso and was a last effort to reclaim a heroic stance in life, to affirm his ability, through skill and wit, and to ultimately remain in control of his fate during the final stage of his long life.
  • Alexej von Jawlensky, Abstrakter Kopf (Poesie des Morgens) (Abstract Head (Poetry of the Morning), 1931
    Estimate £280,000–450,000
    The present work belongs to the series of Abstract Heads, throughout which Jawlensky’s treatment of the features became increasingly stylised and abstracted. Characterised by a grid of predominantly horizontal and vertical lines and brightly painted blocks of pigment, Jawlensky arrived at a unique artistic vocabulary that conveys a sense of harmony and universal spirituality.
  • Marc Chagall, Daphnis et Chloé (Mourlot 308-349; Cramer books 46). The complete portfolio from the deluxe edition of 60, comprising 42 lithographs printed in colours, 1961, each sheet signed in pencil, numbered 6/60
    Estimate £400,000–600,000
    One of the most important illustrated books of the last century, Daphnis et Chloé is Marc Chagall’s greatest graphic achievement. This exquisite portfolio from the deluxe edition of 60 boasts impressive origins, having belonged to the publisher, Chagall’s dear friend, Tériade. Printed in kaleidoscopic colours, the 42 signed lithographs best display Chagall’s talent as a colourist and storyteller. Employing swirling lines and vibrant hues, the painter-printmaker has brilliantly reimagined Longus’ ancient love story for modern audiences.

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