By Carter B. Horsley
The morning auction of Impressionist
& Modern Art at Christie's May 7, 2008 contains numerous nice
floral still lifes, a couple of excellent works by Georges Roualt
and a great landscape by Gustave Caillebotte (1848-1894).
The Caillebotte is Lot 317,
which is entitled "Bord d'un canal, près de Naples."
An oil on canvas, it measures 15 5/8 by 23 1/2 inches and was
painted circa 1872. The painting is a masterpiece of landscape
painting. Its composition is very abstract and its palette unusual
and rich. The painting has a very, very conservative estimate
of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $445,000 including the
buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.
Caillebotte came from a wealthy
family and was an early patron of the Impressionists and his collection
would eventually become the foundation of the collection of the
Musée d'Orsay in Paris. "Though Caillebotte is perhaps
best remembered for his treatment of urban subjects in the late
1970s, the present work provides deep insight into the atist's
career-spanning exploration of perspective, his appreciation for
in situ painting, and his refusal to glamorize the environments
(It should be noted that
Christie's catalogue this season have resorted to printed the
artist's name and the estimate for each lot in an extremely light
shade of gray that is exceedingly hard to read even in bright
light. In addition, the fractions in the catalogue's descriptions
of a lot's dimensions are printed in such a small font as to be
almost unreadable without a magnifying glass. Shame on the auction
house's art director!!!)
Lot 303 is a fine, small beach
scene by Eugene Boudin (1824-1898) that is entitled "Trouville,
La Nourrice." An oil on cradled panel, it measures 5 1/2
by 9 1/4 inches and it was painted in 1885. It was formerly in
the collection of Janice Levin and is being sold to benefit the
Philip and Janice Levin Foundation. It sold for $229,000.
Lot 322 is a fine grisaille
oil on cradled panel by Honore Daumier (1808-1879), one of the
great urban artists in history, entitled "Le Fardeau."
It measures 18 1/8 by 14 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1855-6.
It is related to a sculpture by the artist in the collection of
the Walters Art Gallery in Baltimore. It is one of five versions
of this composition and the artist, according to the catalogue
treated the subject of a washerwoman in 13 other paitings. The
unsigned work has a modest estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It
sold for $361,000.
Lot 355 is a very fine small
work by Kees van Dongen (1887-1968) that is much better than larger
works by the artist that appear in the evening auctions this season.
Entitled "La Parisienne," it is an oil on board that
measures 16 1/2 by 11 3/4 inches and was executed in 1904. This
lot is property formerly in the collection of Janice Levin sold
for the benefit of the Philip and Janice Levin Foundation. This
work may have been included in the artist's first exhibition at
the gallery of Ambrose Vollard in 1904. It has a veryt conservative
estimate of $180,000 to $250,000. It sold for $253,000.
Lot 354 is a strong and interesting
landscape painted in 1908-9 by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953). Entitled
"Sainte-Adresse," it is an oil on canvas that measures
25 5/8 by 31 7/8 inches. After painting in an Impressionist style,
Dufy would became influenced by Cézanne and the Fauves
during the period when he painting this work and before he eventually
developed his own famous, decorative style of illustration that
would highly influential commercially. This lot has an estimate
of $300,000 to $400,000. It failed to sell.
Henri Le Sidaner (1862-1939)
created a pastel-like like style of oil painting with a muted
but elegant palettes that he applied to strong and interesting
compositions. Lot 347 is a fine example of his art. Entitled "La
fenetre aux geraniums," it is an oil on canvas that measures
31 7/8 by 25 5/8 inches and was executed in 1925, a year in which
a retrospective of his work was held at the Galerie Georges Petit
in Paris and he won first prize in an exhibition at the Carnegie
Institute in Pittsburgh. The lot has a modest estimate of $200,000
to $300,000. It failed to sell.
Lot 314 is a very good floral
still life by Edouard Vuillard (1868-1940). An oil on canvas,
it measures 17 by 18 1/2 inches and was painted circa 1905. It
sold for $337,000.
Lot 339 is an excellent albeit
somewhat muted floral still life by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947).
Entitled "Bouquet de fleurs sur une table," it is an
oil on board laid down on cradled panel. It measures 16 3/8 by
20 3/4 inches and was executed in 1900. It has a modest estimate
of $300,000 to $400,000. It failed to sell. "With
its chinoiserie vase, heavily impastoed blooms, richly textured
table, and active brushwork, Bouquet de fleurs sur une table
represents the influence of flattened Japanse prints on the artist's
oeuvre, as well as his burgeoning interest in the depiction of
the domesstic interior scenes which would occupy him for the duration
of his career. With a seeming disregard for perspectival acuracy,
Bonnard depicts the table in the present work as though it is
tipping over before our very eyes, sheets of paper pouring forth
even as the vase remains entirely uptight," according to
the catalogue entry.
This simple but strong still
life of anemones by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) was once
in the famous collection of Emil Buhrle in Zurich. An oil on canvas,
it measures 14 1/8 by 12 3/8 inches and was painted circa 1903.
It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.
Lot 413 is a lovely still life by Georges Braque
(1881-1963). An oil and sand on canvas, it is entitled "Le
plat de raisin" and measures 7 1/2 by 25 5/8 inches. It was
painted in 1922. It has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000.
It sold for $421,000.
Lot 392 is an excellent work
by Georges Roualt (1871-1958). Entitled "Le tribunal de Province,"
it is an oil on paper laid down on canvas. It measures 25 5/8
by 40 1/4 inches and was painted in 1938. It was once in the collection
of Edward G. Robinson. It is part of the artist's "judgment"
paintings that the catalogue entry maintains is "the most
sophisticated and complex works of the artist's career."
It has an estimate of $350,000 to $450,000. It failed to sell.
Another good Roualt is Lot 394, "Paysage
animé," an oil on canvas laid down on cradled panel
that measures 21 3/4 by 27 3/8 inches. It was executed between
1929 and 1939. It has an estimate of $140,000 to $180,000.
It sold for $169,000.
Lot 415 is a dark, mysterious and macabre work
by Max Ernst (1891-1976) that is entitled "Quasimodo genetis."
An oil on canvas, it measures 24 by 18 1/4 inches and was painted
in 1956. There are some skeleton figures on the trees. The lot
has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $241,000.
Another excellent painting by Ernst is Lot
430. Entitled "Composition," it is an oil on panel that
measures 6 1/4 by 8 3/4 inches. It was painted circa 1964 and
is from the estate of William S. Liberman and is being sold for
the benefit of Harvard University Art Museums. It has an estimate
of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $61,000.
Lot 431 is a good work by Alberto Giacometti
(1901-1966) entitled "Buste." An oil on canvas, it measures
11 3/8 by 7 3/8 inches and was executed circa 1947-8. It has an
estimate of $600,000 to $800,000. It failed to sell.