$25m Matisse leads Impressionist and Modern Art sale

Sotheby's New York is to present works by a range of artists including Monet, Picasso, Matisse, Feininger, and Modigliani tomorrow evening (May 5 Evening Sale). Many of the pictures are from excellent private collections and have not been seen on the market for decades if at all.

One key theme in the auction is of modern depictions of female beauty.

Pablo Picasso's Femme au Grand Chapeau, Buste, 1965, (estimated at $8m/12m) is inspired by Jacqueline Roque, the last love of his life, whom he married in 1961. Though Jacqueline never posed formally as her husband's model, her essence permeates his later work.

Pablo Picasso
Pablo Picasso's Femme au Grand Chapeau

The love that Picasso felt for his wife is reflected in the passionate vitality and excitement radiating from the work. The present picture belonged to the collector Patricia Kennedy Lawford (1924-2006), the sixth of nine children of Joseph and Rose Kennedy and sister to President John F Kennedy.

Mrs. Lawford visited Picasso at his studio in the late 1960s and was immediately captivated by the present work. She arranged to purchase the picture through Picasso's dealer, and it remained in her collection until her death.

Collectors wishing to connect with one of Picasso's women may be interested in this piece by 'Picasso's Muse' Francoise Gilot, which is currently available.

Amedeo Modigliani's beautiful Jeanne Hébuterne au Collier has not appeared at auction in nearly 70 years (estimated $8m/12m). Painted in 1916-17 at the beginning of their relationship, the work is believed to be the very first portrait of Modigliani's future wife and muse, Jeanne Hébuterne.

By the time he started depicting Jeanne, the artist had developed his mature style, and his portraits of her from the last three years of his life are among his greatest masterpieces, including the world record ($31.4 million) achieved by Sotheby's New York in 2004.

Modigliani's portraits of Jeanne are rich with emotional and psychological content; here he balances with rich, thick impasto with soft tones, underscoring the tenderness and passion he felt for the sitter.

Kees Van Dongen's Jeune Fille au Chapeau Fleuri, painted 1907-09, and Femme au Chapeau de Roses, circa 1910-1911, (expected to bring $2m-3m and $4.5m-6.5m)will also be featured.

Feininger der rotegeiger The Red Fiddler
Feininger's The Red Fiddler

Amongst the other works in the sale, the most striking Expressionist piece is perhaps Lyonel Feininger's spectacular Der roteGeiger (The Red Fiddler) of 1934, which comes directly from the collection of the family of the artist (with a guide price of $5m-7m).

The fiddler is thought to represent defiance in the face of great opposition, and hence give Feininger's view of his native Germany during the 1930s.

Wassily Kandinsky's Vertiefte Regung (Deepened Impulse) is expected to bring $4.5m-6.5m. The meditation on the celestial beauty of circles has been in a private collection for over seven decades.

But the two most valuable works are none of these.

Effet de printemps à Giverny, painted by Monet in 1890 represents an excellent example of the artist's Impressionist representations of the effects of various weather conditions on light and colour in landscapes. The work is expected to bring $10m-15m.

Henri Matisse Bouquet pour le 14 juillet 1919
Henri Matisse's Bouquet pour le 14 Juillet 1919

Finally, the top lot in the auction is expected to be one of Henri Matisse's best works, the vibrant Bouquet pour le 14 Juillet 1919 - the artist's emotional celebration of the first Bastille Day following World War I (est. $18m-25m).

The ambitious 45½ x 35in piece achieved a record price the last time it was sold in the early 1980s.

We will bring you the results of the sale here.



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