Master Prints from the Collection of Catherine Woodard & Nelson Blitz, Jr.

Launch Slideshow

This fall, Sotheby’s is excited to offer a selection of important prints from the collection of Catherine Woodard and Nelson Blitz, Jr. as part of our seasonal auction of Prints & Multiples on 23 and 24 October. Passionate about the arts from a young age, Blitz began collecting prints in the early 60s. Including master prints by Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Jasper Johns and Ludwig Kirchner, the collection is one of the greatest in private hands. Click ahead to view highlights from this exceptional group.

Prints & Multiples
23–24 October | New York

Master Prints from the Collection of Catherine Woodard & Nelson Blitz, Jr.

  • Edvard Munch, Young Woman on the Beach. The Lonely One (Schiefler 42; Woll 49). Estimate $3,000,000–4,000,000.
    Exquisitely rendered with delicately modulated tones of colour and softened details, Munch’s Young Woman on the Beach. The Lonely One is one of the artist’s most beautiful prints. The elusive and ethereal young woman seems pulled toward the sea. She appears to float; her hair and white dress almost glowing against the non-descript background. Munch explored this motif several times in different media. In each image, a man joins the young woman, standing a little behind her. In this impression, Munch crops the composition and concentrates the scene on the lone female figure. This more intimate portrayal of loneliness invites the viewer to share in her contemplation.

    This extremely rare print is one of only twelve impressions recorded by Woll. Each impression is unique, printed with distinct colours and tonality suggesting different moods and times of day.

  • Edvard Munch, Evening. Melancholy I (Schiefler 82; Woll 91). Estimate $850,000–1,000,000.
    Set on the shore at Åsgårdstrand, a village on the Oslo fjord where Munch had a house, Evening. Melancholy I  is based on a series of paintings and drawings that explore the theme of melancholy stemming from jealousy and love lost. The figure in the foreground is modelled on the artist’s friend, the Danish art critic Jappe Nilssen, who was the unlucky member of a love triangle involving the painter Christian Krohg and Oda Lasson, who later became Krohg’s wife. As is typical of the artist’s process, Munch copied the composition of the paintings directly into the woodblock, resulting in a woodcut that is a mirror image of the unique works.

  • Edvard Munch, Melancholy III (Schiefler 144; Woll 203). Estimate $300,000–500,000.
    Munch may have created this second version of Melancholy because he believed the blocks for the earlier print had been lost on a shipment from Norway to Berlin. The second iteration not only captures the original orientation of the composition as it appeared in the earlier paintings, but it also more clearly depicts the group of three figures walking toward the rowboat moored on the dock in the background, an allusion to the trio of Krohg, Lasson and Nilssen. In isolating the group from the foreground figure, Munch illustrates the source of the lone man’s depression and the subject currently occupying his thoughts.

  • Pablo Picasso, Portrait d’Olga au col de fourrure (Baer 109). Estimate $800,000–1,200,000.
    Picasso met the Russian ballerina Olga Khokhlova in 1917 while she was dancing with the Ballets Russes, and they married the following year. Picasso executed the plate for this monumentally scaled portrait of his first wife, the muse of his classical period, in 1923, but the first three impressions were not printed until 1930. Although Picasso and Khokhlova separated in 1935, they never divorced and remained technically married until her death from cancer in 1955, the same year that the last impressions of this image were pulled from the plate.

  • Pablo Picasso, La Femme à la fenêtre (B. 695; Ba. 891/II/A). Estimate $300,000–500,000.
    One of only a few aquatints created on this scale, La Femme à la fenêtre is a large portrait of Picasso’s lover Françoise Gilot. Picasso represents Françoise in an abstract, Cubist-style profile, contrasting thick and angular lines with deep and velvety tones of black and grey. This particular impression is extremely rare, being one of only six recorded before the plate was steel-faced. The proofs printed prior to steel-facing show a deeper texture than those made afterwards, heightening the effect of the light hitting her face. The resulting image is quite arresting.

  • Jasper Johns, Ale Cans (ULAE 20). Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    One of Jasper Johns’s most popular prints, Ale Cans from 1964 was modelled after his 1960 sculpture Painted Bronze that depicts two cans of Ballantine Ale. In Ale Cans, Johns contrasts the three-dimensional cans with the flat and unstructured black background. The cans seemingly float in a dark void. Johns underscores this tension further by extending a few of the lithographic lines into the margins, emphasising the flatness of the sheet. In 1980, Johns said, “I’m always interested in the physical form of whatever I’m doing and often repeat an image in another physical form just to see what happens, what the difference is, to see what it is that connects them and what it is that separates them…the experience of one is related to the experience of the other. For me it is.”

  • Jasper Johns, Two Maps I (ULAE 23). Estimate $100,000–150,000. Jasper Johns, Two Maps II (ULAE 26). Estimate $100,000–150,000.
    Similar to Johns’s representations of flags, targets, numbers and letters, his map imagery is a “found structure,” something that the artist did not design, but has taken, and that would be immediately recognisable to the viewer. As a result, Johns removes himself from the interpretation of his art, making the viewer responsible for deriving his or her own meaning.

    With Two Maps I and Two Maps II, Johns explores the concept of doubling, something inherent to the printing process. Johns juxtaposes two subtly distinct iterations of the map of the United States on the same stone, forcing the viewer to examine the differences and what that means visually and symbolically. In Two Maps I, Johns printed white ink on black paper, while in Two Maps II, Johns takes the concept a step further and reverses the process, printing black ink on thin white Japan paper mounted to black paper. While the imagery used is identical, the resulting prints are quite different, illustrating Johns’s philosophy: “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.”

    Lot 93 . Jasper Johns, Two Maps I (ULAE 23).

    Lot 94 . Jasper Johns, Two Maps II (ULAE 26).

  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Strassenszene (Dube H235/B; Schiefler H218; Gercken 643/2). Estimate $500,000–700,000.
    The Berlin street scene is one of the most important themes in Kirchner’s work, and he returned to it repeatedly in the years prior to World War I. In what he described as one of the loneliest times in his life, following the disbanding of the Brücke group of artists in 1913, Kirchner turned to the vibrant but chaotic street life of the German metropolis, and particularly the unusual subject of the prostitute. In this extremely rare print, the only known example of the image printed with the addition of a colour block in purple, Kirchner employs sharp, angular lines and an upturned perspective to convey the tense, almost disorientating quality of modern city life.

  • Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Junkerboden (Dube H388/a/2/II and H388/b/1/II; Schiefler H412; Gercken 1085/II/1). Estimate $100,000–125,000.
    In 1917 Kirchner was brought to Davos, Switzerland to recover from the physical and mental illness caused largely by his experiences in World War I. Created in 1919, Junkerboden captures the view of the valley and alpine landscape from his hut on the Stafelalp. These two working proofs of this rare woodcut are printed on opposite sides of the same sheet, one with traces of yellow and green ink from a previous inking of the block and the other in red, pink and shades of green. The strength of the lines and peaceful composition reflect the improvements in Kirchner’s health at the time and the positive impact life in the mountains had on him.

  • Andy Warhol, Marilyn Monroe (Marilyn) (Feldman & Schellmann II.31). Estimate $180,000–220,000.
    Warhol produced his Marilyn Monroe portfolio of ten screenprints in 1967, five years after the actress’s tragic suicide. Warhol took the image from a press photograph taken by Gene Kornman for Marilyn’s 1953 film Niagara. The result is a static image, cropped and enlarged, removed from its narrative context. Using layers of flat, intense colours, Warhol presents Marilyn’s face as an impenetrable mask. Each of the ten prints from the portfolio was made in a different colour combination, resulting in radically varied representations of her face. Warhol’s Marilyns recall the tradition of society portraits and explore the themes of glamour, stardom and death. 


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