Monet and Klimt join Picasso for 'London's most valuable art auction ever'

Pablo Picasso's Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto, painted in 1903 is better known as The Absinthe Drinker, in recognition of the large glass of the drink which sits in front of the lugubrious subject.

A classic work from Picasso's celebrated Blue Period, it caused great excitement when it was offered for auction by Andrew Lloyd Webber's charity. It is to be offered on June 23 with an estimate of £30m-40m (up to $61.2m).

Pablo Picasso's painting The Absinthe Drinker
Picasso's The Absinthe Drinker
(Click to enlarge)

Another Picasso, Nude, Green Leaves and Bust, recently sold for $106.5m in New York to become the most valuable art work in the world.

In fact, the auction is now set to include two other Picassos: Le Baiser, 1969 and La Liseuse, circa 1921 are now joining the collection, with estimates of £8m-12m and £6m-9m respectively.

However, Picasso is not the only legendary artist to have his work featured in the sale. Monet's Water-Lilies, painted just three years later in 1906, bears the same estimate as the headlining Picasso.

Claude Monet's 1906 painting Water Lilies
Claude Monet's 1906 painting Water-Lilies
(Click to enlarge)

Giovanna Bertazzoni, Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern art at Christie's, London commented "Claude Monet's water-lily paintings are amongst the most recognized and celebrated works of the 20th century, and were hugely influential to many of the following generations of artists.

"We are honoured to be able to present this exceptional 'Nymphéas', which was subsequently shown at the great exhibition of 1909."

Likewise one of the last great female portraits painted by Gustav Klimt, Frauenbildnis (Portrait of Ria Munk III), is expected to raise £14m-18m. One of Klimt's other female portraits, Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer II is currently fifth on the most expensive art sale lists, having sold for just under $90m in 2006.

Gustav Klimt's third portrait of Ria Munk
Gustav Klimt's third portrait of Ria Munk

These are only a few of the great artworks available in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale. It is as though a large art gallery has been consigned all at once. Other highlights include:

René Magritte's large and arresting Les barricades mystérieuses, 1961 (£3m-4m).

Otto Dix's masterpiece, Schwangeres Weib, 1919 (£4m-6m).

Henri Matisse's Nu à la Chaise Longue, which was part of the celebrated collection of Henri Canonne and a year after it was painted in 1923 hidden from public view (£5.5m-8.5m).

Last but not least is Vincent van Gogh's Parc de l'Hopital Saint-Paul, painted in 1889 which is an extraordinary piece, as it was created during a time of artistic strength for the painter, yet the scenery is that of the asylum mentioned in the title, that van Gogh had voluntarily entered at the time.

Overall, the auction will present 63 works of art and is expected to realise £163,670,000 to £231,180,000, making it potentially the most valuable art sale ever held in London. With the art market achieve world record prices repeatedly in recent times, few will bet against that.

Bertazzoni elaborates:

"The strong results at our auctions over the last year, and during the last 6 months in particular, have further fuelled the confidence of vendors; we are witnessing a great willingness from clients to consign works of art of the highest quality.

"There is a fierce international demand in the art market, particularly for the rarest and the best, and the market itself is now truly global as illustrated at our auction in New York in May where we saw bidding from Russia, China and the Middle East, as well as from Europe and the Americas."


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