Picasso, Matisse, Ernst, Chagall and More 20th Century Masters

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From Pablo Picasso’s tribute to his late friend and rival Henri Matisse to the breathtaking colors and energy of Marc Chagall’s circus, the Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale features works by the masters of the 20th Century. Click ahead for a closer look at ten of the sale’s highlights. 

Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale
New York | 15 May

Picasso, Matisse, Ernst, Chagall and More 20th Century Masters

  • Pablo Picasso, Tête de Femme, 1964. Estimate $2,000,000–3,000,000.
    Jacqueline Roque was the sixth and final significant muse in the life and work of Pablo Picasso. His loves had long exerted a strong influence on Picasso’s creative output, and their various portraits are featured throughout his seventy-year career. At times reflecting discord, at times exultant joy, these portraits always offer insight into the emotional workings of an artist hailed the Father of Modern Art. Jacqueline, more so than any other, was a spur to his creative genius; he painted more pictures of her than any of his other muses.

  • Max Ernst, Les Asperges de la lune, conceived in 1935. Estimate $1,200,000–1,800,000.
    The hybridization of bestial and vegetal forms found in Les Asperges de la lune exemplifies a central principle of Surrealism – the juxtaposition of two contradictory states to jolt the viewer's consciousness. The life-sized, spindly “asparagus” stalks are personified at their peaks with playful, stylized “lunar” faces.

  • Pablo Picasso, L'Atelier, 1956. Estimate $1,200,000–1,800,000.
    Picasso and Matisse had a legendarily complex relationship, with the two simultaneously existing as friends, enemies, rivals, and artistic mentors. In the years that followed Matisse’s death in 1954, Picasso painted two series of Ateliers, variations on the theme of studio scenes that the two artists had shared through their careers.

  • Marc Chagall, Les Amoureux aux trois bouquets, 1980. Estimate $1,000,000–1,500,000.
    Les Amoureux aux trois bouquets contains several of the most crucial elements in the artist's pictorial iconography: symbols of his agrarian roots, bouquets of flowers and landscapes evoking the villages of his childhood home in Belarus. As of the early 1920s, shortly after Chagall’s marriage to his first wife Bella in 1915, bouquets of flowers become a symbol of romantic love in Chagall’s work, and he continued to use the motif of flowers constantly throughout his career.

  • Henri Matisse, Madeleine I, 1903. Estimate $800,000–1,200,000.
    Although Matisse’s sculptural oeuvre contains 744 bronzes, only ten plaster casts are known to exist today. Of these, three are casts of Madeleine I , which was originally conceived in 1901. The irregularities of the mold lines in the bronze versions of the work and the present plaster cast suggest that the piece molds were made over the clay model, probably by Matisse himself, who was still relatively poor at the time and might not have been able to hire a professional mold maker as he would later in his career.

  • Paul Signac, Le Pont de Suresnes, 1884. Estimate $700,000–1,000,000.
    Le Pont de Suresnes is a wonderful example of the beautifully loose brushwork of Signac’s early manner in which he embraced the stylistic and compositional strategies of the great Impressionists. The Impressionist preoccupation with light is something that would remain a mainstay in Signac’s work throughout his career.


  • Edgar Degas, Trois danseuses debout près d'un portant, circa 1900. Estimate $700,000–1,000,000.
    Degas' profound sensitivity to the existential condition of the dancers is evident in the way they each occupy a singularly defined physical and mental space without interacting with one another. While they may seem alike, he boldly celebrates individuality in the context of an art form which inherently rewards uniformity.

  • Marc Chagall, L'Ane au violoncelle ou Cirque au soleil ou Variante du "Cirque sur Fond Noir", 1969. Estimate $700,000–1,000,000.
    For Chagall, the circus was the captivating conduit between the tangible world that encircled him and the hyper-reality of his pictorial world. Trapeze artists defying gravity and animals performing tricks echoed and informed the floating figures and creatures of his canvases. The breathtaking colors, style and energy compelled and inspired him.


  • Pablo Picasso, Verre et compotier, 1922. Estimate $700,000–1,000,000.
    In the context of personal satisfaction and financial prosperity, Picasso produced a series of animated still lifes of which the present work is one elegant example. He focused on a limited number of objects in these works, including fish, guitars, glasses and fruit bowls. This prescriptive subject matter enabled Picasso to have the freedom to experiment with formal arrangements, adapting and developing combinations of shapes, while creating depth through tones and textures.

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