Picasso's joyful Notre-Dame painting tops Bonhams' Impressionist & Modern Art auction

We mentioned before how much we were looking forward to Bonhams' Impressionist & Modern Art Sale, led as it was by sharply contrasting highlights: A vibrant, joyful painting of the Notre-Dame de Paris by Picasso with a bright, bold use of colour rarely seen other than in paintings on the fridge, and a more solemn painting of a woman by Amedeo Modigliani.

Two other highlights of the auction were Pierre-Auguste Renoir's Femme en Rouge Lisant, painted in 1895, which made £97,250; and La Musique au Village painted by Marc Chagall which achieved £73,250.

Collectors who are fans of Chagall's work, but maybe not able to afford the five or six figure sums required for an original painting may be interested to know that we have an original Marc Chagall signed print available for a fraction of that price.

The two top lots were as expected, however: Firstly, Jeune Fille aux Cheveux Noirs by Modigliani - a classic example of the artist's work in creating enigmatic portraits of women with lengthened faces - brought £825,250.

Just pipping that at the post was the Picasso. The view of the Notre-Dame was one which Picasso was very familiar with at the time as it was very close to his studio. It's intriguing therefore that it's a particularly non-realistic representation.

Pablo Picasso Notre-Dame de Paris
Picasso's colourful painting of Notre-Dame de Paris

Picasso had just met Jacqueline Roque, who would later become his wife, and it's speculated that his joy at this meeting spilled over into the painting. A bidder parted with £864,450 to get their hands on it.

Deborah Allan, of Bonhams Impressionist and Modern Art Department comments, "We were thrilled with the 81% sold by value, result of this sale in which we offered an excellent selection of works by some of the most pre-eminent artists of the 20th Century.

"The sale drew interest from clients across the world. Building on the success of this sale we look forward to our next sale on 19th of June, 2012."

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