Magritte and Pissarro impress at Israeli impressionist art auction

There were few notable art sales scheduled for the final day of 2010 with most major auction houses leaving off for the period between Christmas and New Year. For this reason, some collectors may have missed Matsart's Israeli and International Winter Sale on December 28 in Jersusalem.

This is unfortunate, as the compact sale (which listed just 157 works) offered a few classics, both for those interested in Israeli art in particular and Impressionist and modern art in general.

Five works stood out:

Camille Pissarro's The countryside near Rouen' painted in 1883, belongs to the artist's first impressionist period. It was undertaken while Pissarro visited Monet's brother, Leon, at his house in Maromme near Rouen.

The painting shows a man riding a horse on a country road in autumn. Depicted in a beautiful pink-green and gray chromatic scale, the subject is one which is common in French painting since Corot's 'Le grand cavalier sous bois', 1854.

Magritte Mon Fils
Rene Magritte's Mon Fils (Click to enlarge)

Estimated at $180,000-220,000 it sold for $242,500.

Two works created almost a century apart gained joint third place in the sale: A still life by Marc Chagall (1981) and Forest Clearing by Isaak Il'ich Levitan (the precise date of painting is not known, but the artist lived from 1860-1900).

Throughout his career, Marc Chagall consistently turned to still life paintings not as rigorous studies in realism, but rather as expressive evocations of fantasy. The motive of the fruit basket is one of his earlier motives.

The artist takes up the excuse of depicting fruit to submerge the painting in a green expressive colouring, in a way which is reminiscent of the paintings undertaken when he first met his second wife Vava in the late 1950s which were bathed in red.

Chagall's painting was listed at $225,000-250,000 whilst the Russian Levitan's oil on canvas work, which was sourced from an important Israeli collection of Russian art was estimated at $180,000-230,000, but both brought $290,500.

The piece which graced the front of the catalogue was Rene Magritte's Mon Fils, apparently from 1942. The title of this undated gouache appears under the date 1942 in Magritte List 1942 and it must therefore date from the first half of that year.

Rubin's Flute Player
Reuven Rubin's Flute Player

Listed at $280,000-350,000, it was once more pushed past this by excited bidders and it left the stage for $374,500.

None of these were Israeli works, of course, but the top lot was, being a classic work by Reuven Rubin (1893-1974). Flute player, a colourful oil on canvas work, is sourced from an important Israeli collection and has been authenticated by Rubin's widow, and sold near the top end of it $350,000-450,000 estimate, for 422,500.


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