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Pierre-Auguste Renoir
Baigneuse, 1888

Maurice de Vlaminck
La Danseuse du 'Rat Mort', 1906

Edgar Degas
Chanteuse de Café-Concert
ca. 1878

Le Lever, 1975-78
pass at $3.5 million

Paul Cézanne
La Lutte d'Amour,ca.1879-1880

artnet auction report: sotheby's impressionist and modern

by Walter Robinson

A pretty girl is like a melody
that haunts you night and day
-- Irving Berlin (1919)

In its Nov. 13 evening sale of Impressionist and modern art, Sotheby's proved once again that you can't go wrong with a pretty girl. The top lot was Renoir's 1888 Baigneuse, an all-but-perfect example of the artist's trademark Rubensian bathing beauty, that soared past its $10 million-$15 million estimate to sell for $20.9 million to an anonymous private collector.

Other lots among the top ten would seem to confirm the equation of art and female beauty. Lot 125, Renoir's La coiffure (1888), sold for $8.8 million. Lot 138, Vlaminck's La Danseuse du 'Rat Mort' (1906), went for $4.6 million. Lot 121, Renoir's La sortie du bain (1889), was bought for $1.4 million. We can even include here lot 163, Henry Moore's Draped Reclining Woman (1889), which sold for $2.6 million. Who said art collectors are politically correct?

Other notable lots were the Monet Nympheas (ca. 1914-17), a work of decorative restraint with a beautifully painted surface, that sold for $5.8 million; and a tiny Degas pastel, Chanteuse de Café-Concert (ca. 1878), with the kind of theatrical lighting that portends today's celebrity spectacle, selling for $1.3 million. The Balthus cult, however, seemed to be absent, as the 89-year-old artist's Le Lever (1975-78), a large and provocative picture of a naked girl presenting a wooden bird to a feral cat, was passed at $3.5 million bid (est. $4 million-$5 million)

The 10 Cézannes in the Pellerin Collection (that we made such a fuss about here) performed modestly. "We had expected higher prices," said Sotheby's expert Anthony Apsis after the sale, "but Cézanne has always been a little too sophisticated for the market." Top lots were the Modern Olympia (ca. 1870), for $5.9 million, and Cinq baigneuses sous des arbres (ca. 1875), for $5.5 million. The Autopsy (1869) went for $1 million and the Battle of Love (ca. 1879-1880) sold for $3.6 million. Cézanne's exceptionally modern view from his apartment window of the industrial-scale wine depot (as opposed to the quainter cafe scenes favored by so many other painters), La Halle aux Vins (1872), was passed at $1.2 million bid (est. $3 million-$4 million).

The overall total was $73.5 million for 42 lots sold out of 56 offered. The presale estimate was $91 million-$120 million. "We feel much, much better than we did yesterday," noted Sotheby's c.e.o. Diana Brooks, referring to the Sharp sale on Nov. 12. Brooks said that the house had a buyer for the unsold Sharp Modigliani nude at a price in excess of $9 million. She put the house's total for the week at almost $160 million, substantially better than the $110 million total of a year ago and the $105 million posted last spring.

Prices given below include the auction house commission of 15 percent on the first $50,000 and 10 percent on the rest.

101. SisleyL'Etang du Chevreuil$400,000-$600,000$662,500
102. PissarroLes Carriers du Chou...$600,000-$800,000$662,500
103. PissarroVielles Maisons à Eragny$400,000-$600,000$442,500
104. RenoirLa Liseuse$1 million-$1.5 million$1,212,500
105. van GoghA Park in Arles$600,000-$800,000$607,500
106. CézannePortrait de Victor Chocquet$300,000-$400,000$305,000
107. CézannePortrait de Paul Cézanne$600,000-$800,000pass at $325,000
108. CézanneL'Oncle Dominique...$1.5 million-$2.5 million$992,500
109. CézanneCinq Baigneuses$6 million-$8 million$5,502,500
110. CézanneDon Quichotte...$400,000-$600,000$1,102,500
111. CézanneLa Lutte d'Amour$4 million-$6 million$3,632,500
112. CézanneUne Moderne Olympia...$6 million-$8 million$5,942,500
113. CézanneLa Toilette Funéraire$700,000-$900,000$1,020,000
114. CézanneLa Promenade$500,000-$700,000$717,500
115. CézanneParis: Quai de Bercy...$3 million-$4 millionpass at $2.1 million
116. DegasFemme se Coiffant$350,000-$450,000pass at $300,000
117. PissarroLa Grange...$600,000-$800,000$1,020,000
118. MonetGêlée Blanche$500,000-$700,000$1,047,500
119. SisleySaint-Mammes: Le Soir$400,000-$600,000$600,000
120. RenoirBaigneuse$10 million-$15 million$20,902,500
121. RenoirLa Sortie du Bain$900,000-$1.2 million$1,432,000
122. PissarroLe Semeur à Monfoucault$500,000-$700,000$662,500
123. MonetAntibes$2 million-$3 million2,037,500
124. GauginLe Bassin Carré$700,000-$900,000$497,500
125. RenoirLa Coiffure$8,000,000-$10,000,000$8,802,500
126. PissarroPaysage à Varengeville$600,000-$800,000$497,500
127. SisleySaint-Mammes$700,000-$900,000662,500
128. DegasLa Coiffure$700,000-$900,000pass at $425,000
129. MonetEffet du Soir sur La Seine$1 million-$1.5 million$772,500
130. MonetNymphéas$6 million-$48 million$5,777,500
131. GauginConversation$800,000-$1,200,000$552,500
132. DegasLe Petit Déjeuner Après Le Bain...$2.5 million-$3.5 millionpass at $1.9 million
133. PissarroAvant-Port et Anse des Pilotes...$500,000-$700,000pass at $400,000
134. DegasChanteuse de Café Concert$1 million-$1.5 million$1,322,500
135. MorisotMarine en Angleterre$400,000-$600,000$332,500
136. MaillolL'Eté$600,000-$800,000pass at $375,000
137. MaillolTorse de Marie$400,000-$600,000$387,500
138. de VlaminckLa Danseuse du "Rat Mort"$3 million-$4 million$4,622,500
139. de VlaminckLe Havre, Les Bassins$1,250,000-$1,750,000$1,212,500
140. MunchSommernacht im Studentenhain$2.5 million-$3.5 million2,477,500
141. PicassoFemme Nue$600,000-$800,000pass at $525,000
142. MatisseNature Morte au Lièrre$450,000-$650,000$415,000
143. PicassoCompotier avec Fruits$1 million-$1.5 millionpass at $850,000
144. LaurensCariatide Assise$400,000-$600,000$332,500
145. LaurensFemme aux Serpents...$250,000-$300,000pass at $150,000
146. LaurensLa Lune$400,000-$600,000$552,500
147. LégerNature Morte$700,000-$900,000$1,075,000
148. KandinskyBild im Bild$700,000-$900,000$662,500
149. LégerLes Quatre Acrobates$1 million-$1.5 million$1,487,500
150. KleeChinesische Novelle$600,000-$800,000$497,500
151. MagritteSouvenir de Voyage$400,000-$500,000$607,500
152. MagritteLes Tables de La Loi$1 million-$1.5 million$1,047,500
153. MiróComposition$300,000-$400,000pass at $180,000
154. KleeUnstern der Schiffe$300,000-$400,000pass at $225,000
155. BalthusLe Lever$4 million-$5 millionpass at $3,500,000
156. GiacomettiPortrait d'Annette$600,000-$800,000$607,500
157. BonnardNu Rose...$700,000-$900,000pass at $525,000
158. BonnardFemme Nue à la Chaise$600,000-$800,000pass at $425,000
159. VuillardPortrait d'Yvonne Printemps$600,000-$800,000$717,500
160. ChagallLe Coq au Bouquet$600,000-$800,000$497,500
161. ChagallLe Voyage$500,000-$700,000$882,500
162. MooreTwo Forms$600,000-$800,000$937,500
163. MooreDraped Reclining Woman$1.5 million-$2 million$2,587,500
164. MooreLarge Torso: Arch$700,000-$900,000$690,000
165. MooreUpright Motive No. 7$500,000-$700,000pass at $325,000
166. MooreWorking Model for Standing Figure...$500,000-$700,000$827,500
WALTER ROBINSON is editor of ArtNet Magazine.