Claude Monet's 1890 work "Mueles" sold for a record-breaking price of $110.7 million at Sotheby's 'Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale' on Tuesday. Regarded as the finest example from Monet's acclaimed 'Haystacks' series, the artwork not just set a new world auction record for any work by the painter, but also became the first Impressionist work to cross the $100 million thresholds at auction.
"Monet's 'Haystacks' series has long served as an inspiration to countless artists since its creation in the early 1890s. "It was a true honour to present 'Meules' among a remarkable group of Impressionist pictures emerging from the same distinguished private collection – one of several important collections offered tonight that propelled our results," said August Uribe, Sotheby's Head of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York.
"Meules" was one of only four Haystacks pictures to come to auction this century, and one of only eight remaining in private hands. On Tuesday, it became the ninth most expensive work ever sold at an auction.
Also part of the sale was Gustave Caillebotte's 1878 'La Rue Halévy, Vue du sixième étage', which well-exceeded its $8 million high estimates to sell for $13.9 million. On offer from the Levy Family Collection, the expansive urban view epitomizes the way in which the Impressionists brought the French capital to live in the middle of the 19th century, rendered in Caillebotte's own innovative pictorial style.
"Nearly two-thirds of the lots on offer had never before appeared at auction, and the market responded enthusiastically – helping us to achieve our highest total since 2015, and our second consecutive evening sale with a sell-through rate over 90 per cent," said Helena Newman, Sotheby's Worldwide Head of Impressionist & Modern Art. Several works emerging from distinguished private collections also performed well throughout the sale -- four works from the Levy Family Collection totalled $26.1 million; three works from the Blema & H Arnold Steinberg Collection realized $6.9 million, and four works from the Bakwin Collection brought $22.5 million.
Other highlights included seven works by Pablo Picasso that totalled an impressive $93.5 million, led by "Femme Au Chien", which sold for $54.9 million in its auction debut – a new world auction record for any 1960s work by Picasso. The 1962 magnificent large-scale canvas depicts Jacqueline Roque enthroned in an armchair and petting Picasso's Afghan hound, Kaboul. Roque was Picasso's beloved second wife who remained with him until his death in 1973, and his renderings of her constitute the largest group of images of any woman in his life.
"Picasso dedicated an entire month in 1962 to painting 'Femme au Chien', a portrait of Jacqueline and his beloved Afghan hound – a sign that the work was of great personal value to him. "The spectacular canvas demonstrates the artist's full creative force in the later years of his life, and the market affirmed that the greatest works produced in the 1960s are considered equal to the finest created throughout his career," said Julian Dawes, Head of Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sales in New York.
Picasso's "Mousquetaire à la pipe" from 1968, which brought $20.8 million, was also part of the sale. One of the greatest subjects of the artist's late oeuvre, the musketeer was one of a cast of psychological avatars that were a means of projecting different aspects of his identity.
The successful integration of Latin American Art into Sotheby's global Impressionist & Modern Art sales was underscored by the sale of Joaquín Torres García's "Construcción en blanco", which surpassed the artist's previous auction record when it sold for $3.4 million. The arresting work was painted in 1931, at the apex of Torres-García's artistic output and embodies his philosophical theory of Universal Constructivism – his most original contribution to the development of abstraction and an idea he first conceptualized during his years in Paris from 1926 - 1932.
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