Intimacy and Innovation from Monet to Magritte

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Launch Slideshow

Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art (29 March) and Works on Paper (28 March) sales feature works by some of the 19th and 20th century's most celebrated artists. From Kees Van Dongen's portrayals of the romantic exuberance of 1920s Paris to Joan Miró's surreal collages and further works by Magritte, Picabia, Picasso and many others, together they present a collection of true masterpieces. Click the image above to view the slideshow.

Intimacy and Innovation from Monet to Magritte

  • René Magritte, La salle d'armes.
    Estimate €700,000–1,000,000
    While La salle d’armes is a major work due to its provenance, from one of the most prestigious Belgian collections in the interwar period, it is also an exceptional painting, considering the time in which it was made. Dated to 1925-26, this piece wonderfully illustrates the period when Magritte was moving in Dadaist circles in Brussels, following his discovery of de Chirico’s work which he regarded as a revelation.
  • Claude Monet, Vue d'Argenteuil.
    Estimate €600,000–800,000
    In December 1871, Monet moved to Argenteuil in the Parisian suburbs, where he would live for the next six years. Argenteuil’s picturesque location is captivating for artists, especially the variety of ways the light reflects on the water, depending on the season and time of day. However, the town soon became extensively industrialised, with factories replacing the surrounding agricultural fields. In this panoramic view however, Monet abandons such attributes of modern living as sailing boats, floating washhouses and afternoon strollers, in order to immortalise the idyllic and bucolic landscape of days gone by.
  • André Masson, Transmutation érotique. 1938,
    Estimate €400,000–600,000
    Transmutation érotique thrusts the spectator right to the heart of Masson's iconography. Everything in this painting appears to be in a state of transformation, with humanity and vegetation merging to the point of confusion. The faces of the couple in an orgasmic embrace are transformed into animal heads with vegetal extremities, while the arms become reptilian. A dramaturgy of pain, desire and ecstasy, Masson demonstrates how passion and eroticism can powerfully explain the nature of humanity.
  • Pablo Picasso, Femme aux bras croisés (Françoise).
    Estimate €300,000–500,000
    A unique piece, Femme aux bras croisés (Françoise) is at the very heart of the relationship between Picasso and Françoise Gilot. Standing 34cm high, the work was made during a period of great artistic freedom in which Picasso increased his joyful forays into every medium within reach. Sculpted in terracotta, it is emblematic of Picasso’s experimental yet experienced technique. On the polished surface of the terracotta, incisions and grooves gently accentuate Françoise’s facial features and the most feminine forms of her body.

    From a symbolic point of view, in Femme aux bras croisés (Françoise), there is a flourishing of melodious, intrinsically Mediterranean forms at play, which reflect Picasso’s deep nature and are evocative of the era, in Vallauris, when Françoise raised the children between the studio and the sea. She is an idol, with a sculptural coherence that is as tender as it is hieratic.
  • Pierre-Auguste Renoir, La Femme en bleu.
    Estimate €350,000–450,000
    "The light, deft strokes of Renoir's brush are graceful, supple and unrestrained, making the flesh transparent and tinting the cheeks and lips with a gleaming crimson. Renoir's women are enchanting. If you welcome one into your home, she will be the last person you glance at before leaving and the first you look to upon your return."
    Théodore Rudet, Histoire des peintres impressionnistes.
  • Kees Van Dongen, Nu debout sur fond vert et rose.
    Estimate €300,000–400,000
    The sensuality and bursts of colour are emblematic of the work the artist created in the 1920s and 30s, a period referred to by commentators of the time as the “Cocktail Era”. The artist was at the height of his popularity during this period and became one of the major personalities of Parisian society. Nu debout sur fond vert et rose is an ode to the frivolous and hedonistic Parisian lifestyle of this time. It also demonstrates Van Dongen's remarkable mastery of colour and light. While the fauvist colours of his early work have made way for a more measured palette, the powerful impastos and spontaneous strokes, as well as the originality of the framing and the candour of the green complexion contrasting with the well-defined pinks, express a radical modernity that is testament to the artist's continuous innovation.
  • Joan Miró, Painting.
    Estimate €180,000–250,000
    In a 1927 interview with the art critic Tériade, Miró declared that he wanted to "assassinate painting". This "anti-painting" crisis was reflected from 1930 onwards in his experimentation with new techniques and materials in his art. As a result, 1931 was the year of superimposed materials, collages and "object-paintings". The collage technique, in particular, represents a significant part of the artist's work. Miró did not think of collage in the Cubist manner; rather, he decided to apply it to new media, creating original associations, for example, by combining paper and wood with a metal stand.
  • Berthe Morisot, Jeune fille cueillant des cerises. €300,000–500,000
    Berthe Morisot drew Jeune fille cueillant des cerises in the garden at maison Blotière in Mézy-sur-Seine during the summer of 1891. During this period she used her daughter, Julie Manet, and nieces as models, and for this reason there is an ease and familiarity in her work that is rarely seen in portraits and genre painting of the 19th century. The relaxed elegance of her style and her liberal use of colour and strokes, contributed to defining the aesthetic of the movement and to making Berthe Morisot a founding and pioneering member of the impressionist group. One of the few women of the movement, she brought an intimate perspective to avant-garde art at the turn of the century.
  • Joan Miró, Chez le Roi de Pologne: Ubu Roi plate III. Estimate €150,000–200,000
    Created in 1954 at Tériade’s request, Chez le Roi de Pologne: Ubu Roi plate III is a unique work intended as an illustration for Alfred Jarry’s play, Ubu Roi. Written in the late 19th century, the play was a source of fascination for many Surrealists, who saw in the fat, cowardly and treacherous Père Ubu the embodiment of the modern anti-hero and the absurdity of always wanting more. At the height of Franco’s regime, the play had a special resonance with the inner circle of Surrealists in general, and the Catalan painter in particular.
  • René Magritte, Les Grâces naturelles. Estimate €120,000–180,000
    The bird-plant in this beautiful chalk drawing, Les Grâces naturelles , is an emblematic and recurring theme of Magritte's art. Its title carries an implicit irony: hindered and deprived of movement, the bird, who cannot use its wings and has taken root, has a "natural grace". Magritte began developing the theme of the bird-plant in 1942, when Belgium was under Nazi occupation. The assimilation of the naturally-mobile bird with the plant that is rooted deep in the earth, contributes to a troubled state of mind. Magritte is thus torn between two emotions: fear and hope.
  • Camille Pissarro, Paysannes assises gardant des vaches. Estimate €80,000–120,000
    Painted in 1886, Paysannes assises gardant des vaches , is an example of the Divisionist style. While painting peasants at work, a subject inspired by Millet, he adopted the Divisionist technique under the influence of Seurat, who declared Pissarro the first Impressionist painter to convert to the Neo-Impressionist style. His use of short, fragmented brushstrokes captures the dazzling effect of the sun on a prairie and creates contrasts of vivid colours, without ever straying from the Impressionist ideals in terms of light and atmosphere.
  • Francis Picabia, Sans Titre. Estimate €120,000–150,000
    Created around 1927-28, this watercolour is one of the very first of Francis Picabia’s “Transparencies”. Marcel Duchamp described the transparencies as having the tendency to “express the sense of the third dimension without the use of perspective.”
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