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Impressionist and Modern Art (Day Sale)


Thursday, 1 PM, May 10, 2001

Sale 9638

"Pégase blanc" by Odilon Redon

Lot 352, "Pégase blanc," by Odilon Redon, oil on canvas, 25 ¾ by 19 ¾ inches

By Carter B. Horsley

This day auction features several works by Odilon Redon (1840-1916), Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) and Georges Roualt (1871-1958) as well as a broad selection of Impressionist and Modern Art.

Lot 352, "Pégase blanc," is a 25 ¾-by-19 ¾-inch oil on canvas, shown above, by Redon that has a conservative estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $292,000 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article. Redon enjoyed fable from classical mythology and the catalogue notes that "the mythical figure which Redon found most emblematic of his vision of art and nature was neither human nor a god, but a fabulous beast, the winged horse Pegasus." "In Greek mythology, Pegasus was associated with the arts. He was born from sea-foamand the blood of the slaughtered Medusa. Bellerophon tamed and rode Pegasus using a golden bridle given him by Athena, goddess of wisdom. Together they killed the fire-breathing serpent Chimaera. Bellerophon then attempted to ride Pegasus into heaven, but was thrown when Zeus sent a gadfly who bit Pegasus, yet another story of human arrogance come to naught. Pegasus, untainted by such human frailties, was alone allowed to rise to the heavens and was made a constellation by the gods. The present work merges two adventures from the career of this noble beast. In a battle between the Muses and the daughters of Pieros, Mount Helicon (Parnassus) was raised from the ground. Pegasus ascended to the summit and gave the peak a kick, from which sprang the soothing waters of the fountain Hippocrene.Twisting on the ground below is the serpent Chimaera (sometimes misidentified as Hydra, which the hero Hercules vanquished in another myth.) For Redon the white form of Pegasus represented the human soul in its poetic purity and nobility existing in a finely tuned balance with its fundamental animal nature. Free, yet always attending to the welfare of humankind. Pegasus rears up in triumph over baser passions and instincts.

Redon's work can often be pyrotechnical, but this painting is soft and muted, albeit with the artist's customary wonderful painterliness and Pegasus is shown in a lovely light against a very fine clouded sky.

Lot 309 is a Redon floral still life entitled "Oeillets et gypsophile dans un pichet vert." It has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It failed to sell. The 13 7/8-by-13 1/8-inch oil on canvas departs a bit from the artist's typical still lifes in that it seems to exist in a more hard-edged environment than his usual rather gossamer worlds. The table on which the vase of flowers sits is rendered with a great deal of texture and some of the small flowers are quite lacey and delicate.

In contrast, the table on which a vase of flowers sits in Lot 344, "Fleurs dans un vase à motifs bleus," also by Redon, is hard to discern and the vase almost appears to be floating and the flowers are less sharply defined. This oil on canvas measures 18 1/8 by 21 ¾ inches and has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000 and was once in the Ian Woodner Family Collection. It failed to sell.

The catalogue provides the following commentary on this light:

"Redon began his series of flower paintings, both in oil and pastel, after 1900,, when he was in his sixties. He seemed in the mood to move away from the darkness of the troubling visions that had preoccupied him in his earlier paintings, "noir" drawings and lithographs. "The demons have retired.".Here he has assembled poppies, anemones and geraniums in a stoneware vase with an interlacing vine design, which, unlike other vases he used, makes it sole appearance in this painting. The choice of vase was important to Redon; many he used were produced by his friend the Russian-born potter Marie Botkin. He was interested in the decorative arts revival of the late 19th Century, which sought sensitivity to materials and craft, preferred to work free of literary references and looked to nature for inspiration.In other works of this period Redon establishes a definite sense of space by means of shadows and the hint of a horizontal tabletop. The present painting looks forward to the next phase of flower paintings, in which the vase appears to float in a vague, flattened space. The flowers themselves, which Redon called `admirable prodigies of light'.would soon be rendered in an increasingly decorative and fantastical manner, showing the influence of Asian art.

Lot 314, "Nu rose se reflétant dans une glace," is a good oil on canvas, 27 ¾ by 16 5/8 inches, by Pierre Bonnard. Painted circa 1925, it has an estimate of $400,000 to $500,000. It sold for $611,000. Another female nude by the artist is Lot 325, "Femme nue à la lampe," an oil on board laid down on cradled panel, 21 by 12 3/8 inches. It was painted circa 1900 and is very nice and has a conservative estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It failed to sell. Lot 335, "La femme à la rose ou Femme dans un intérieur," is a 24 ¾-by-18 7/8-inch oil on canvas, shown below, that has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $600,000. It was once in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Edward G. Robinson.

"La femme à la rose" by Pierre Bonnard

Lot 335, "La femme à la rose ou Femme dans un intérieur," by Pierre Bonnard, oil on canvas, 24 ¾ by 18 7/8 inches

These Redon and Bonnard works are rather typical of those artists' styles, but some connoisseurs like atypical works.

Lot 307 is a 18 1/8-by-25 5/8-inch oil on canvas by Eugene Boudin (1824-1898) that depicts a site that would be painted often by Monet, Etretat. The 1890 work has an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000 and depicts the interesting rock formation on the shore at sunset. Boudin, who has become fairly "hot" in the current art market is best known for his impressionistic marine and beach scenes that have white clouds and blue skies as opposed to the rather reddish palette of this work. It sold for $76,375.

"Stammer mill with streaked sky" by Piet Mondrian

Lot 368, "Stammer Mill with Streaked Sky" by Piet Mondrian, oil on canvas, 29 1/4 by 38 inches, 1905-7

Piet Mondrian (1872-1944) is best known of course for his abstractions, and Lot 368, "Stammer Mill with Streaked Sky," shown above, depicts a windmill in the early evening under dark clouds that break horizontally near the horizon. The 29 ¼-by-38-inch oil on canvas was painted in 1905-7 and the painting has a modest estimate of $400,000 to $600,000 as it is very dramatic, although dark, and very abstract and bold in its composition. It sold for $501,000.

"The rejection of narrative subject in favor of simplified outlines and planar construction presage Mondrian's later abstract compositions," the catalogue observed.

"Petite banlieu (aux quatre cheminées)" by Georges Roualt

Lot 398, "Petite banlieu (aux quatre cheminées)" by Georges Roualt, 18 by 25 1/2 inches

Lot 398, "Petite banlieu (aux quatre cheminées), shown above, is a very bold and striking cityscape of four, bright-red factory chimneys by Georges Roualt, an artist better known for his depictions of religious and circus subjects. It has a very conservative estimate of $40,000 to $60,000 as it is probably the best painting in this auction. It measures 18 by 25 ½ inches. It sold for $44,650.

"Fleurs décoratifs" by Georges Roualt

Lot 379, "Fleurs Décoratifs" by Georges Roualt, oil on paper, 44 5/8 by 30 3/4 inches, 1937

Lot 379 is another atypical and excellent Roualt. Entitled "Fleurs décoratives," it is an oil on paper laid down on canvas, shown above, that measures 44 5/8 by 30 ¾ inches and was painted in 1937. It was once in the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Edward G. Robinson and it has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000 and it is very strong. It sold for $644,000. Another very good Roualt is Lot 466, "Parade," a 25 1/8-by-19 ½-inch oil and gouache on paper that was executed between 1931 and 1939 and has an estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It failed to sell.

Lot 324, "Le Pont-Neuf, La Seine. Petit bras," is a 25 5/8-by-36 14-inch oil on canvas of the famous bridge in Paris by Maximilien Luce (1858-1941). The lovely early evening cityscape has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $270,000.

"Saint-Tropez, deux jeune filles à la fontaine" by Henri Lebasque

Lot 360, "Saint-Tropez, deux jeune filles à la fontaine," by Henri Lebasque, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 inches, 1906-7

Lot 360, "Saint-Tropez, deux jeune filles à la fontaine," is the cover illustration of the catalogue. The 36 ¼-by-28 ¾-inch oil on canvas, shown above, was painted by Henri Lebasque (1865-1937) in 1906-7 and has a modest estimate of $120,000 to $160,000. It sold for $193,000.

Lot 472, "L'Istheme de Corinth," is a very nice oil on canvas, 28 ¾ by 21 ¼ inches, by Jean Metzinger (1883-1956). It has an estimate of only $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $82,300.

Lot 473, "Nature morte devant la fenetre," is a oil on canvas, 39 ¼ by 28 3/8 inches, by Georges Valmier (1885-1937). The attractive, Cubist-style work has an estimate of $80,000 to $100,000 and was painted in 1925. It sold for $149,000.

See The City Review article on the Yves Tanguy auction at Christie's May 10, 2001

See The City Review article on the Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Spring 2001 evening auction

See The City Review article on Phillips May 7, 2001 Impressionist & Modern Art auction

See The City Review article on Phillips Fall 2000 Impressionist & Modern Art auction

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