Manet self-portrait sells for £22m World Record price at Sotheby's

Last night, in the opening of an exciting art season in London, Sotheby's presented a 51 lot Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art with three paintings reaching the seven figure mark.

Sotheby's run-up to the sale

As expected, Henri Matisse's Odalisques Jouant aux Dames was one of the key lots. The work, which Mattisse painted in 1928 in Nice during what is commonly regarded as his strongest period as a colourist artist, had never been offered before at auction.

The work, from an exceptional European collection, sold on target at £11.8m.

Beating its highest estimate of £14m was Andre Derain's eye-catching work Arbres à Collioure. This smashed the previous record set for a Derain, also set by Sotheby's across the pond in New York, for Barques au port de Collioure which brought the equivalent of £8.6m.

It had previously been a part of the world famous Vollard collection, of which a selection will be offered at the end of this month in Paris.

The sale also saw the sale of several Picassos, including Buste de Matador which reached an impressive £5.3m.

But the night belonged to Edouard Manet, perhaps the artist more than any other who embraced the transition from Realist to Impressionist painting.

Self-portrait with a Palette by Edouard Manet
Self-portrait with a Palette by Edouard Manet

His Bouquet de Pivoines beat its £4m-6m estimate, leaving the stage for £7.66m. But all eyes were on the artist's self-portrait - one of only two known. The work presents him as a Parisian dandy.

The previous high price for Manet was an 1878 street scene: La rue Mosnier aux Drapeauxwhich sold for $26.4m (£17.8m) over 20 years ago in New York.

Painted at a similar time to the previous record-breaker, the painting had been described as "not only the greatest Manet portrait in private hands, but also one of the very greatest self-portraits in the entire canon of art history" by Sotheby's Executive Vice President and Manet expert Charles Moffett so all eyes were on the work as it took centre stage.

Keen bidding broke out both in the hall and over the phones, and when the dust had cleared, the artist's Self-Portrait with a Palette was the most valuable Manet in the world at £22m.

Sotheby's is selling some more Impressionist and Modern paintings today, including one of Joan Miro's works. Most eyes, however, will be on Christie's auction of Picasso, Monet, Klimt and others which is expected to break records for a London art auction.


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