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La jeune fille au cygne, 1886
La muse endormie II,c. 1925
Eglise de Varengeville,
effet du matin, 1882
Jeune fille à la fenêtre, 1921
artnet auction report: christie's impressionists
by Walter Robinson
"It's certainly not a market given to speculation, but it is a strong market for anything of quality," said Christie's chief auctioneer Christopher Burge at the after-sale press conference on Nov. 11, giving a postive spin to what was a rather unexciting event. The overall total for the evening sale of Impressionist and modern works was $69,972,000, just under a presale estimate of $79 million-$109 million. A modest 51 of the 70 lots offered were sold.
While the cynical (and clueless) press corps might characterize the sale as "lackluster," it still contained a luminescent Monet of Waterloo Bridge in London that sold for $8.2 million, a golden Brancusi sleeping muse for $6.6 million, a classic portrait of a young girl by Renoir for $5 million and a Braque Fauve landscape from L'Estaque for $3.5 million. The prices of other lots are listed below.
Practically all the buyers were "anonymous," though Carol Vogel of the New York Times spotted Dallas collector Raymond Nasher buying lot 157, Giacometti's Femme de Venise IV, for $2.4 million. (I have to say that standing on the sidelines among the auction "journalists," who spend almost two hours craning and peering to identify bidders while writing the hammer prices in their catalogues, is not exactly my idea of the cosmopolitan life.) The only other high-profile buyers at the sale were dealers David Nash and his wife Lucy Mitchell-Innes, who bought the Monet bridge picture as well as two Redons.
Among the bargains was lot 126, Monet's Eglise de Varengeville (1882), a beautiful painting that sold for $1,542,500 -- easily worth more than one-fifth of Waterloo Bridge! And the Matisse market seems to have been momentarily off, a good opportunity for whoever bought lot 162, Matisse's Jeune fille à la Fenêtre (1921) for $607,500, below its low estimate; and lot 166, the late Matisse Grille (1953), paying $640,500 for a beautiful and rare example of the artist's final flair.
The absence of any spectacular results in last night's sale was actually welcomed by one museum curator, who must keep an eye on insurance costs for loan exhibitions. One generally unnoted effect of Monday's Ganz sale, in which values shot up by 300 percent or more, was to wreak havoc on the museum insurance budgets.