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Impressionist & Modern Art


7 PM, May 6, 2009

Sale 2164

"Mousquetaire à la pipe" by Picasso

Lot 7, "Mousquetaire à la pipe," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 57 5/8 by 35 1/8 inches, October 17, 1968


By Carter B. Horsley

This Christie's evening auction May 6, 2009 of Impressionist & Modern Art is highlighted by some fine works by Pablo Picasso, an excellent portrait by Tamara Lempicka and good works by Henri de Toulouse-Lautec, Edgar Degas, Alexej von Jawlensky, Henri Matisse, Maurice de Vlaminck, and Paul Klee.

Many of the works carry estimates that are much lower than they would have been before the fiscal crisis that began last fall and the number of lots being offered is dramatically lower, a reflection of the tremendous uncertainty in the art market over valuations.

Nevertheless, caution by the auction houses and sellers provides good opportunities for buyers and the general quality of the works being offered is quite high by and large.

The most attractive work is Lot 7, "Mousquetaire à la pipe," by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), a 1968 oil on canvas that measures 57 5/8 by 35 1/8 inches. It is a nearly perfect and very assured composition whose bright yellow background positively animates the work. It has a conservative estimate of $12,000,000 to $18,000,000. It sold for $14,642,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

The sale was quite successful especially when compared to the previous night's auction at Sotheby's (see The City Review article). Of the 48 offered lots, 38 sold for $102.767,000 including the buyers' premium. The pre-sale estimates without buyers' premiums was $87,600,000 to $125,200,000. At his press conference after the auction, Christopher Burge, the auctioneer, declared that the auction "did extremely well at all levels of the market with a few modest exceptions that onee xpects." He said it was "a remarkable result for this market" and "bodes well for the fall if works are properly estimated, have good quality and are properly marketed." He said that there was widespread bidding activity, adding that about 42 percent of the buyers were American and 44 percent European and almost 8 percent Asian.

Christie's sold the painting in New York in November, 2004 for $7,175,500 including the buyer's premium. At that auction, it had an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000 and the catalogue entry then observed that "Picasso's view of the musketeers is invariably comic and mock-heroic; these soldiers of deering-do are often ridiculous and overblown in their grandiose self-confidence. But at the same time Picasso must have lamented in the contemporary world a growing absence of the recklessly individual spirit, the man of purposeful idea and action, a world -transforming genius, as he had been in his youthful career."

The catalogue entry for the lot this time indicates that Christie's "has a direct financial interest in lots consigned for sale which may include guaranteeing a minimum price or making an advance to the consignor that is secured solely by consigned property. This is such a lot."

This time the catalogue provides the following commentary:

"In early 1966, while convalescing in his home in Mougins from surgery, Picasso reread Alexandre Dumas' The Three Musketeers. Within a short time a new character entered Picasso's repertory of artist-surrogates - the musketeer, or more generally, the 17th century cavalier, the rakish nobleman who was skilled with the sword, daring in his romantic exploits, and in his tastes and appetites was a worldly gentleman who enjoyed all that life had to offer. In the early 1960s Picasso was fond of depicting himself in the figure of a brawny Mediterranean fisherman, either young or old, with a tossled beard and in a striped sailor's vest. The adventurous and virile musketeer replaced the fisherman as the artist's primary persona-of-choice. Now in his mid-80s, able to travel only locally, and with his vaunted sexual powers finally on the wane, Picasso transformed himself into the brave, adventurous and virile musketeer, wearing an elegant little beard and long wavy hair, and clad in doublets and ruffled collars. This would be the mask he would hold up most frequently to the world during the remaining years of his life. Picasso painted Mousquetaire à la pipe in October 1968. It may seem an unusual subject at a time when America's war in Vietnam filled the headlines and Paris was still recovering from the throes of the great student uprising earlier that year. A few months earlier Soviet forces had invaded Czechoslovakia, ending the Prague Spring. The world's greatest living artist appeared to have retreated in a world of 'backward-looking romantics and nostalgic dreamers' (M.-L. Bernadac, Late Picasso, exh. cat., The Tate Gallery, London, 1988, p. 82). Picasso's view of the musketeers is invariably comic and mock-heroic; these soldiers of derring-do are often ridiculous and overblown in their grandiose self-confidence. This subject may be tinged with Picasso's antiwar views, expressed in the image of a man ordinarily inclined to bellicose behavior, of the kind that had caused so much mayhem and carnage through the centuries. Here, having put his sword aside, the musketeer looks rather harmless and congenial. Picasso was fond of his musketeers, and liked to ascribe personal qualities to them. Hélène Parmelin recalled how Picasso would play games in front of the canvases, with her and her husband, the painter and sculptor Edouard Pignon. Picasso would point to one or another musketeer and sympathically remark, 'With this one you'd better watch out. That one makes fun of us. That one is enormously satisfied. This one is a grave intellectual. And that one look how sad he is, the poor guy. He must be a painter' (quoted in Picasso: Tradition and Avant-garde, exh. cat., Museo del Prado, Madrid, 2006, p. 340). The musketeers embody a virtual catalogue of varied human foibles, for which they appear to compensate with the irresistible force of their idealism. Picasso must have lamented a growing absence in the contemporary world of the recklessly individual spirit, the man of purposeful idea and action, a world-transforming genius, as he had been in his youthful career. In this respect, Picasso's appropriation of the musketeer image was an effort to reclaim a heroic stance in life, to affirm his ability, through wit and skill, to remain master of his fate during this final stage of his long life. The first appearance of the 17th century cavalier in Picasso's late work occurred in one of his artist and model paintings, dated 13-14 March 1963, which Picasso revealed to his friend Hélène Parmelin as being 'Rembrandt and Saskia.'....Uninspired by his reading of Dumas' The Three Musketeers, Picasso drew figures in 17th century costume a carnet that he used in March-April 1966, including the depiction of a cavalier/painter in front of his model....Picasso then introduced the musketeer theme in two drawings done in December 1966....He commenced a series of large ink wash bust-length portraits of musketeers later that month....The first oil painting of this subject, done on 20 February 1967, again showed the cavalier as a painter....Many musketeer heads followed, and Picasso then began to paint fuller-length seated portraits in April 1967....This theme preoccupied Picasso through the late spring, but made way for other subjects during the summer and fall. Picasso returned to the musketeer theme in January 1968, and treated it occasionally until October, when he painted the present work as one in a series of large, dramatic bust- and full-length musketeer portraits in which the subject is smoking a pipe. This group marks the central peak of Picasso's interest in this subject, and includes many of his most richly expansive versions in this genre. The figure in the present painting has been conceived on a grandly baroque scale; within its powerfully jagged silhouette, seen against the brilliant yellow background, the component forms angle and curve, undulate and jut forth. The artist pulled out all the stops with his resounding use of color, jarring contrasts alternate with more delicate harmonies. While Picasso returned to the musketeer theme frequently over the course of the next four years..., no later sequence of variations on this subject matches this series in its formal variety and inventiveness, vivid palette, sustained dynamism and irrepressible joie de vivre. The introduction of the pipe in this sequence contributes significantly to its overall character of boisterously good humor and contentment....Superficially, the pipe alludes to genre paintings of the 17th century Dutch school, and even more recent models, such as Eugène Manet's Le bon bock....The pipe was, more significantly, a meaningful motif within the context of Picasso's own oeuvre, aspects of which the artist was fond of revisiting in his late years. It was, of course, an important accessory in Picasso's famous Garçon à la pipe....The pipe was a frequent component in his cubist still-lifes. The manly recreation of pipe-smoking takes on a sexual connotation as well; with its exaggerated length the pipe becomes a phallic symbol. Picasso himself made the association between smoking and love-making as he was commiserating in a conversation with the photographer Brassaï: 'Age has forced us to abandon smoking, but the desire remains. It's the same with love' (quoted in M.L.Bernadac, The Ultimate Picasso, New York, 2000, p. 455). The presence of the yellow background, the pipe, and even the impassioned brushwork in this Mousquetaire suggest another artist - like Rembrandt, also a Dutchman - to whom Picasso liked to allude in his late paintings: Vincent van Gogh...."

An article by Clemente Lisi in May 5, 2009 edition of The New York Post identified the consignor of the lot as Jerome Fisher, founder of shoe company Nine West, adding that Mr. Fisher lost a sizable amount of money in the Madoff scandal.

"Femme au Chapeau" by Picasso

Lot 32, "Femme au chapeau," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 76 5.8 by 51 1/8 inches, August 26, 1971

Lot 32, "Femme au chapeau," is a larger oil on canvas by Picasso. It measures 76 5/8 by 51 1/8 inches and was executed August 26, 1971. It has been consigned by Julian Schnabel, the artist, movie-director and developer of Palazzo Chupi in the West Village. He had acquired it in 1989. It has an estimate of $8,000,000 to $12,000,000. It sold for $7,754,500.

In an April 2, 2009 article in The New York Times, Carol Vogel wrote that "Until recently the painting hung in Mr. Schnabel’s living room in Palazzo Chupi, his much-publicized neo-Mediterranean development on West 11th Street in Greenwich Village, where he lives and works, surrounded by many of his own canvases." She said that Mr. Schnabel said that the painting is "both aq figure and a landscape," referring "to the way Picasso depicgted a bold female figure i the foreground and darker brushstrokes behind.,"

"Asked why he has decided to part with his beloved Picasso, Mr. Schnabel, who has made no secret of the fact that he has empty apartments to sell in Palazzo Chupi, said: 'I’ve had it for 20 years. When I built this place, I put a lot of money into it, and I don’t want to be in a rush to sell the triplex or the other floor.' Mr. Schnabel also took out a loan with Commerce Bank, pledging part of his art collection, including the Picasso, as collateral. 'The sale of this painting will take care of that loan,' he said."

Ms. Vogel observed that the painting "is a powerful canvas but also a curious one," adding that "The woman is depicted with haunted, almond-shaped eyes and flowing dark hair, but also with some strange features, like a 5 o’clock shadow on her chin."

The catalogue entry for this lot provides the following commentary:

Her eyes wide and riveting, Picasso's Femme au chapeau possesses the domineering aspect of the the helmeted Greek warrior goddess Pallas Athena. So she may have appeared as she glared down upon the visitors to the second large exhibition of Picasso's late paintings at the Palais des Papes in Avignon during 1973. She is larger than life- - her figure appears to push out at the corners of a canvas measuring over six feet tall, the most imposing scale that Picasso worked on during this time. Installed atop a cruciform arrangement of paintings near the center of the the large Salle de l'Audience, she had a commanding view of the proceedings....

Picasso, approaching his 89th birthday, could still boast of fine health, and indeed was painting non-stop when the first Avignon exhibition took place in May-October 1970. It comprised 167 oils and 45 drawings that he had done between the beginning of January 1969 and the end of January 1970. Picasso died on 8 April 1973, working nearly to the very end. Preparations for a second exhibition at the same venue were already well under way - this was the last installation for which Picasso personally selected the works to be shown. For this occasion Picasso chose paintings only, 201 in all, which he had done from February 1970 through the end of 1972. These canvases bore unmistakable proof of the astonishing vigor and tireless productivity of his final years. Avignon II opened in May 1973 and ran into late September, providing a timely and moving public sign-off for the end of the line in Picasso's long career, an event that, if sadly posthumous, was lively and eye-opening nonetheless, thanks to the irrepressible freedom and exuberance of the artist's work.

A sizable proportion of the paintings in the second Avignon exhibition continued themes seen in the first: there were lovers and other figure groupings. There were, however, many more close-up portraits of lone figures than previously. These figures filled, and often verged on bursting, the confines of their canvases. The look of the television close-up may be discerned in this compositions; both Picasso and Jacqueline enjoyed watching television, especially old movies. Among the subjects in these single figure portraits were the familiar mousquetaires, toreadors, men in hats and smoking pipes, some female nudes, and relatively only a few figures of costumed women, as seen in the present painting. It did not escape notice that the two exhibitions marked Picasso's 'return' to Avignon, to the town that figured in the name of his most famous cubist painting, and where he had painted in the months just prior to the beginning of the First World War, with his friends Braque and Derain working nearby.

One can trace in the Avignon paintings the outcome of Picasso's ongoing dialogues with past masters. Picasso had begun his late period, which coincided with arrival of Jacqueline in his life, with the variations after Delacroix's Femmes d'Algers done in 1954-1955, which were also a tribute to his recently deceased friend Matisse. Velázquez came next in 1957 with Picasso's take-offs on Las Meninas. He turned to Manet for the Dejeuners series in late 1959 and the early 1960s, making way for Rembrandt when in 1963 he began the artist and model paintings, from which the mousquetaires and other baroque figures soon evolved. The spirit of Ingres informed all the many figure drawings that Picasso executed during this period. In the portraits showcased in Avignon II another master - this one from the not so distant past and one who was alive and painting when Picasso was a child - made his presence strongly felt: Vincent van Gogh...."

The catalogue entry for this lot provides the following commentary:

"Picasso was very likely thinking of Van Gogh's Peasant Woman in Wheatfield, 1890 (Faille 774, Hulsker 2053; fig. 1), when he painted Femme au chapeau on 26 August 1971. Picasso had been fond of painting woman in hats since his early years, and especially during the 1930s, when he shared the Surrealists' fascination with women's headwear as a revealing manifestation of their inner lives. Hats can help one identify the subjects in Picasso's portraits of the thirties: Marie-Thérèse had her particular prim style of head dress, and Dora Maar had hers, which gave her an altogether more insect-like and menacing appearance. The sitters in Van Gogh's portraits often wear a hat, which becomes an emblem that both characterizes their place in society and proclaims an attitude of personal identity and pride. The hat as signifier takes on an even more complex meaning in Femme au chapeau. Julian Schnabel...has pointed out that this woman appears to have a beard. This trans-gender confusion recalls the story of the mythical Greek seer Tiresias, who, for a transgression against the gods, was turned into a woman for seven years. In light of this apparent conflation of gender, we may read Femme au chapeau both as an evocation of Van Gogh's peasant woman in her bonnet, and even more significantly, of Van Gogh himself, as seen in his well-known self-portraits in which he is bearded and wears his signature straw hat....Picasso appears to infer that the idea of imaginative identification can be taken even further than this. In the act of painting there is a process of transference and transformation - the artist and his model have entered into a pact and have become one, a painter's self-portrait and the portrait of another are ultimately one, in their marital bond Picasso and Jacqueline are one..., Van Gogh and the prostitute Rachel are one, and through painting as dialogue Picasso and Van Gogh have become one."

"Nature morte" by Picasso

Lot 45, "Nature morte," by Pablo Picasso, oil on canvas, 31 7/8 by 39 1/4 inches, April 5, 1934

Lot 45 is a much earlier work by Picasso and one that is much lighter in palette. A classic still life, it is an oil on canvas that measures 31 7/8 by 39 1/4 inches and was painted in 1934. It has an estimate of $5,000,000 to $7,000,000. It sold for $5,458,500. It was in the collections of Douglas Cooper of London, Justin K. Thannhauser of New York and The Art Institute of chicago and was sold at Christie's in New York i May, 1997 and again in May, 1998.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Picasso completed three still-life compositions in early April 1934 in which he painted a handful of newly cut wildflowers in a glass pitcher, with some fruit grouped nearby, all laid out on a cloth-covered table-top and set before an open window of his chateau at Boisgeloup. The present painting was done on 5 April. It is the earliest of the three, and as such, typically for a series of this kind, it is also the most naturalistic. Two days later he painted similar objects in a geometrically compartmentalized cubist space..., and shortly thereafter he executed a third still life, in which the contours of the objects have been transformed into twisting, ray-like, magnetic lines of force....Each painting in its way evokes the coming of spring to Boisgeloup. These canvases welcome the rebirth of nature, and herald the awakening of a excited and newly receptive state-of-mind. It was time for the denizens of Boisgeloup to open the windows, let in the light of the lengthening days, to breathe in the freshly scented air and allow it to clear out the stuffy and smoky air from the large rooms of this old mansion....The presence that hovers everywhere in this light-filled room is that of Marie-Thérèse Walter, Picasso's blonde mistress and muse, who was then 24 years old. She was still in her late teens when in January 1927 Picasso walked up to her outside the Galeries Lafayette where she had been shopping....Picasso purchased Boisgeloup in 1930. The odd name of this property derives from bois-jaloux - it was in a hidden wooded area, as if screened off by a jalousie. The old house had neither electricity nor central heating, and Picasso did not undertake to modernize it. He prized Boisgeloup for its seclusion, and it was only about 40 miles from Paris, a quick jaunt in his chauffeured Hispano-Suiza motorcar. He set up a sculpture studio in his new country retreat, and there were large rooms in which to paint. Best of all, Boisgeloup was the perfect location for his trysts with Marie-Thérèse. Picasso would bring her to the chateau during the week, and she could easily slip away to nearby Gisors or back to Paris when Olga and Paulo showed up for the weekends. It is not clear when Olga learned about Marie-Thérèse. She could not help noticing the frequent appearance of a young blonde woman in his paintings, and she may well have known what was up by this spring of 1934, but she was not yet ready to force the issue with Picasso. The inevitable series of angry confrontations between Picasso and Olga, and then the final decisive scene would in fact take place the following year, after Marie-Thérèse had become pregnant. At that point point, Picasso and Olga separated, after seventeen years of marriage. Because Picasso could never agree to a division of property that included his paintings, they never divorced. Unfortunately for Picasso, Olga received Boisgeloup as part of their agreement. This, then, is the drama behind the scene of this delightful vernal still life. Even the overall tonality betokens Marie-Thérèse, cast in "the lilac color Picasso associated with her," as John Richardson has pointed out (in A Life of Picasso: The Triumphant Years, 1917-1932, New York, 2007, p.472)....Picasso has incorporated the form of a reclining female nude within the folds of the tablecloth, most apparent at lower right, in the present Nature morte. The juxtaposition of two still life subjects - the glass pitcher of flowers at left, and the banana and figs on the right - is more than a mere contrivance for compositional effect. The banana takes on a phallic significance (this should be no surprise coming from Picasso), especially when placed in the proximity of the sliced open figs; the interior of the latter fruit has traditionally born an allusion to female genitalia. Picasso makes his presence known in a second image in this painting: note the small outline of a head in the window pane at lower left, which is the artist's reflection as he peers over the top edge of his canvas and surveys the room...."

Tete de femme" by Picasso

Lot 33, "Tete de femme," by Pablo Picasso, gouache and watercolor on paper,227/8 by 18 1/8 inches, spring, 1909

Lot 33 is a strong gouache and watercolor on paper head of a woman by Picasso that was executed in the spring of 1909. It measures 22 7/8 by 18 1/8 inches. It has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,500,000. It sold for $2,658,500.

The catalogue entry provides the following commentary:

"Durig the spring of 1909 Picasso concentrated on portraits of his mistress Fernande Olivier....They had been living together in his studio at the Bateau-Lavoir in Montmartre since the fall of 1904. John Pichardson has pointed out that Fernande was suffering from a kidney complaint in early 1909..., which probably explains why Picasso concentrated on close-ups of her head (as seen here), and bust-length or seated portraits, in ordinary poses that were easy on her as she convalesced. Conforming to the favored feminine appearance of her day, Fernande had a full, somewhat plump and sensual figure, and a pretty, broad-cheeked face. Cubism gave her an extreme makeover, but in light of Picasso's evolving formal imperatives, it is beside the point that he was rarely flattering in his treatment of her features, often giving her a bulging forehead and cheeks, little zigzag lips and - most recognizably - a double or even triple chin. This deforrmative tendency, however, is not yet so pronounced in the present study, in whcih Fernande's visage takes on the pared down features of a mask. Picasso has modeled her head with sharply delinated planes of light and shadow, employing a hard-edged chiaroscuro, which he reinforced by applying a network of hatchmarks in thin, paraellel brushstrokes...."

"Germaine" by Picasso

Lot 24, "Germaine," by Pablo Picasso, oil on board laid down on cradled panel, 8 1/2 by 6 inches, 1900

An earlier and very sweet, small Picasso oil on canvas, "Germaine," Lot 24, sold in November, 2001 at Christie's in New York for $831,000 when it had an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. The oil on board laid down on cradled panel then had a much more ornate frame. The panting, which was executed in 1900, measures 8 1/2 by 6 inches and was once in the collection of Justin K. Thannhauser. At this auction, it had an estimate of $1,000,000 to $1,500,000. It sold for $1,594,500.

Although not as large and flamboyant as the Mousquetaire, it is far and away the most desirable of the Picassos in this auction despite its small size.

The catalogue notes that Germaine was one of a trio of "easy-going girls," probably of Spanish background. She and her half sister Antoinette Fornerod and Louise Lenoir, who was known as Odette, spent time with the young Catalan artists in Paris at the time.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"The painter Carles Casagemas accompanied Picasso on his first trip toParis in October 1900 and was sharing a studio with him and another artist, Manuel Pallarès, when he met Germaine and fell in love with her., She was already married to an obscure character named Florentin, who appears to have toleratd her affairs. Picasso formed a relationship with Odette, the only girl of the three who did not speak Spanish (Picasso knew very little French); Pallarès was attracted to her as well, but settled for Antoinette. The three couples lived together in a large studio on rue Gabrielle in Montmartre. Casagemas desperately wanted Germaine to leave her husband so tht he could marry her. He was impotent, however, and had a drug yhabit; Germaine, as much as she liked the attentions of this sensitive young man, would not yield up the secu7rity of her marriage. Mad with frustration, Casagemas tried to shoot Germaine in a Paris café while at a dinner with Pallerès, Odette and other friends on the night of 17 February 1901. He missed, but thought he had killed Germaine when she dived to the floor behind Pallarès. Suddenly regretting his foolishness, Casagemas turned the gun on himself and fired. He was rushed by police to a hospital, but died a few hours later. Picasso was in Madrid when these terrible events transpired, and was deeply affected by his friend's suicide. Although he did not hurry back to Paris or even attend Casagemas' memorial service in Barcelona, Picasso provided a drawing of him for an obituary in a Barcelona art journal. When Picasso finally returned to Paris in May 1901, with the promise from his friend Père Manach of a show at Vollard's gallery, the artist and his promoter stayed in the apartment where Casagemas had spent his last days. Odette would have liked to resume her relationship with Picasso, but the painter instead took up with Germaine, who since the death of Casagemas had been having an affair with the Catalan sculpture Manolo (Manuel Martinez Hugué). Not even twenty years old at the time and eager to show off his amorous conquests, Picasso took perverse pleasure in the jealousies he sowed amongst those around him, and even satirized events in cartoons he made for a friend. He was to some exent trying tocover up the extrme feelings of guilt he felt over Casagemas' death, which would soon become a major factor in the emergence of his Blue period. Picasso's affair with Germaine lasted only a short time and there were other girlfriends as well before he became involved with Fernande Olivier in 1904. Germaine remained part of the artist's circle until she went to live with the Catalan painter Ramon Pichot, whom she married in 1906 or 1907. She was widowed in 1925, and Picasso assisted her financially until her death in 1948."

"Apres le bain, femme s'essuyant" by Degas

Lot 15, "Apres le bain, femme s'essuyant," by Edgar Degas, pastel on paper, laid down board, 27 1/8 by 21 1/2 inches,circa 1890-5

Lot 15 is a very fine and beautiful pastel by Edgar Degas (1834-1917) entitled "Apres le bain, femme s'essuyant." It measures 27 1/8 by 21 1/2 inches and was executed circa 1890-1895. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,000,000. It sold for $5,906,500. It was offered last November at Christie's with an estimate of $5,500,000 to $7,500,000 and was passed at $5,000,000.

The catgalogue notes that in his late works the compositions are "radically simplified, with all narrative structure stripped away" and his exploration of color and texture became "ever bolder and more experimental" as "the densely worked, brilliantly colored, and wholly non-representational background of the present pastel demonstrates."

"With its rich array of sources within the history of art, the pose of the present pastel," the entry continued, "is also noteworthy as evidence of Degas's renewed historicism in his later years. The motif of the model with her back turned to the viewer is heavily indebted to Ingres's Valiincon Bather of 1809 (Musée du Louvre, Paris), a painting that Degas copied in the 1860s and venerated throughout his life. The figure clutching her hair while leaning to the side has also been linked to Ingres's rival, Delacroix, especially to the figure of the grieving female captive in the foreground of Entry of the Crusaders into Constantiople of 1840 (Musée du Louvre, Paris), another painting that Degas had copied in his youth."

"Madame Misia Natanson" by Toulouse-Lautrec

Lot 22, "Madame Misia Natanson," by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, huile à l'essence on board laid down on cradled panel, 20 7/8 by 15 7/8 inches, 1897

Lot 22 is a superb painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec (1864-1901) entitled "Madame Misia Natanson." A huile à l'essence on board laid down on cradled panel, it measures 20 7/8 by 15 7/8 inches and was executed in 1897. It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $2,546,500. In November 2000 it was offered at Christie's in New York with an estimate of $3,000,000 to $4,000,000 and was passed at $2,800,000. It is property from the estate of Joan S. Ben-Avi whose father, Paul Sampliner, was an organizing founder of the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, the founder and presdient of the Independnent News Company and from 1937-1967 the co-owner of DC Comics.

The painting has been widely exhibited.

"Misia Natanson," according to the catalogue entry for this lot, "was a leading figure in the intellectual community of fin-de-siècle Paris. "Born in St. Petersburg in 1872, Misia was the daughter of a successful Polish sculptor named Cyprien Godebski and the granddaughter of the well-known cellist Frantz Gervais. Raised by wealthy relatives in Ixelles, near Brussels, the young Misia was a gifted pianist and student of Gabriel Fauré; Franz Liszt is said to have held out great hopes for her future as well. Enrolled by her father in a Parisian convent at age seventeen, she rebelled and moved to London, renting a small apartment and supporting herself by giving piano lessons. In 1891, she returned to Paris and settled on her own in the fashionable district near the Place de Clichy. At that time, she was re-introduced to the brothers Alexandre, Thadée, and Alfred Natanson, second cousins by marriage whom she had not seen since childhood. Thadée was immediately captivated by her vivacity, impetuousness, and intelligence; the two married on 25 April 1893. Thadée Natanson was editor of the influential and progressive periodical La Revue Blanche, voice of the Parisian intellectual community from its establishment in 1891 until its collapse twelve years later. The magazine hosted some of the era's most important articles on modern thinking, with contributors including André Gide, Paul Valéry, Tristan Bernard, Alfred Jarry, Romain Coolus, and the young Marcel Proust, who used her as one of his models for the music-loving Mme Verdurin in A la recherche du temps perdu. Upon her marriage to Thadée Natanson, Misia quickly became the 'soul and muse' of the group of writers and artists involved with La Revue Blanche. Each Thursday evening, she held an informal soirée for contributors and subscribers at the Natanson apartment at 9 rue Saint-Florentin, an eclectic, loft-like space that served as an unofficial annex to the magazine's offices on the rue Lafitte. Members of the Revue Blanche circle also gathered under Misia's hospitality at the Natansons' country homes at Valvins-la-Grangette (near Fontainebleau) and Villeneuve-sur-Yonne. So synonymous with the spirit of La Revue Blanche was the active, independent Misia that Lautrec, when commissioned to make a poster for the periodical in 1895, chose her portrait as its emblem....The present portrait of Misia was executed in the summer of 1897, while Lautrec was staying at Villeneuve. Lautrec painted Misia at least six other times, but she claimed that this picture was her favorite. It was made during a difficult period for the artist: his alcoholism had worsened (the writer Romain Coolus described him that summer, his drooping moustache always damp with vermouth or absinthe), and he suffered several breakdowns at Villeneuve. He took great solace, however, in Misia's company; as Vuillard recounted in a letter to Vallotton in July, 'There are some mishaps along the way; but one must not despair. He has his good moments, and he is very much attached to Thadée and his wife'....She and Lautrec spent hours in the garden that summer, indulging in a favorite past-time: she would sit in the grass reading or pretending to read, while Lautrec tickled her bare feet with a paintbrush, discovering 'imaginary landscapes.' It is perhaps this idyllic game that Lautrec had in mind when he painted the present picture, an exquisite portrait of Misia reading on the lush grounds at Villeneuve. With its fresh, pastel palette and loose, exuberant brushwork, the painting masterfully captures both the breezy warmth of a summer's day and the nourishing intimacy that existed between Lautrec and Misia. At the same time, Misia's solemn expression and Lautrec's choice of the hieratic profile format impart to the sitter an air of imposing dignity, recalling early Renaissance portraits like Alesso Baldovinetti's Portrait of a Lady in Yellow (circa 1450; National Gallery of Art, London), a painting that Lautrec is known to have deeply admired."

The Lautrec painting, the 2000 catalogue noted, "is an extraordinary sketch of enormous freedom in the artist’s adventure into Misia's white and pink dress. The shoulders of the dress are brilliant white and rather fully depicted while the rest of the dress disintegrates into swirls of white and pink lines overlaid subtlely by the thin green lines of the chair in which she sites. Lautrec employs an almost Van Goghesque representation of the surrounding grass which is modulated with the sandy brown ground. The top quarter of the composition shows surrounding buildings and trees, hinted at with strong but limited brushwork. Misia is wearing her hair up and Lautrec has painted her head in profile with considerable detail. Her face is the focus of the work as the strong and large white areas that are her dress's shoulders almost serve as "sun-reflectors" to focus the viewer's attention on her face."

"Heureux quator" by Rousseau

Lot 50, "Heureux quator," by Henri Rousseau, oil on canvas, 37 3/8 by 22 7/8 inches, 1902

Lot 50 is an excellent work by Henri Rousseau (1844-1910) entitled "Heureux quator." Anoil on canvas, it measures 37 3/8 by 22 7/8 inches and was painted in 1902. From 1949 to 2004, it was owned by Mr and Mrs. John Hay Whitney.

At the Spring 2004 auction at Sotheby's in New York of the Whitney collection it had a modest estimate of $1,250,000 to $1,750,000. Surprisingly, Mr. Meyer opened the bidding on this lot at only $320,000 and it failed to sell and was passed at $380,000. At the press conference after the sale, Charles Moffett said that the Rousseau "was the anomaly, the conundrum of tonight's sale."

The Sotheby's catalogue provided the following commentary:

"Heureux Quatuor was first exhibited at the Salon des Independents in 1902. Rousseau clearly attached great importance to the painting as an annotated copy of the catalogue shows that it was priced at 2000 francs, far more than any of his other paintings that were exhibited in the same Salon. One of the few depictions of nudes in Rousseau's oeuvre, Heureux Quatuor is noteworthy for its idyllic tone and for its curious updating of themes that had become clichés in much contemporary academic painting. Situating his emblematic nude figures in a freely painted, sylvan landscape, Rousseau evoked the ideal world that Matisse was to explore in his masterpiece of 1906, Le Bonheur de vivre. It is one of his rare excursions into the world of allegory, quite distinct in character from his explorations of the modern world or the lush jungles of his imagination, immeasurably enlivened by the presence of the dog who lifts his head and seems to join the music."

Christie's has estimated the painting at this auction at $1,200,000 to $1,800,000. It sold for $2,882,500.

"Le Havre, les bassins" by Vlaminck

Lot 19, "Le Havre, les bassins" by Maurice de Vlaminck, oil on canvas, 32 1/8 by 39 3/8 inches, 1907

Lot 19 is a large and colorful 1907 oil on canvas by Maurice de Vlaminck (1876-1958). It measures 32 1/8 by 39 3/8 inches and was once owned by Paul Tishman of New York. Vlaminck's early Fauve works are generally startling and wonderful, which is all the more surprising given the fact that he changed his style to a Cezannesque preoccupation with forests and landscapes, most of which are not very exciting. While this a large work, it does not have the magic of some of Vlaminck's finest Fauve works and it has an ambitious estimate of $4,500,000 to $6,500,000. It sold for $3,778,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary about this painting:

"The present work, a tour-de-force of strident color and latent energy, exemplifies the intensity of Vlaminck's Fauve style. With its dynamic composition, industrial subject - an unusual departure for the artist beyond his native Île-de-France - and its dissonant palette of juxtaposed primaries of red and blue, the present work strongly recalls the London views of Vlaminck's close friend and colleague André Derain....In fact, Derain most probably completed his series of London pictures from sketchbooks during the course of the first half of 1907, at exactly the same time as Le Havre, les bassins was painted. The scale of the present work, moreover, executed on a "40F" (81 x 100 cm.) canvas, a large and seldom used format by Vlaminck at this time, also echoes Derain's almost exclusive use of the same format for his London subjects. It therefore seems a credible proposition that the present work was in some way Vlaminck's friendly riposte to Derain's London series. Among the generation of Fauve artists, the famous chance encounter between Vlaminck and Derain on a suburban train journey in 1900 led to perhaps the most sustained artistic collaboration among members of the group. Vlaminck was a forceful and independent character, without significant formal schooling but intelligent and ambitious. His background was musical and he worked as a violinist in Montmartre nightclubs in order to support his young family and finance his fledgling artistic career. Vlaminck and Derain quickly became fast friends, exploring the banks of the Seine around their home of Chatou and their friendship endured through Derain's military service of 1901-1904 with a steady stream of correspondence. On Derain's return the self-appointed 'School of Chatou' resumed their practice, their brushwork becoming increasingly bold and their palettes more willfully anti-naturalistic. Vlaminck publicly exhibited for the first time in 1904 when he showed a single work at Berthe Weill's gallery. Henceforth he abandoned his nightclub performances and threw himself into painting. 'In order to find more time for painting I left Paris and my work with orchestras. I became a poor music teacher in a family. This was the hardest period of my life. I started all over again. For my own benefit and that of my pupils I taught the method of Mazas and Kreutzer, together with classical music, Bach, Haydn, Beethoven and Mozart' (quoted in E. Lucie-Smith, Lives of the Great Twentieth-Century Artists, London, 1999, p. 20). Through Derain, who had undertaken training in established studios and knew the Parisian milieu of avant-garde painters, Vlaminck came to know Matisse and his circle. In the process he overcame some of his natural antipathy to belonging to a group or movement, no matter how loose the association. He submitted several canvases to the 1905 Salon des Indépendants, where they appeared alongside recent paintings by Derain, Matisse, Manguin, Marquet and Camoin. Matisse had convinced both Vlaminck and Derain to exhibit at the Salon while visiting their studio in Chatou the previous winter. Commenting on his stay, the elder painter remarked, 'I was not surprised by [their] painting, as it was close to the research that I myself was involved in. But I was moved to see that very young men had certain convictions that were similar to my own' (quoted in M. Vallès-Bled, op. cit., p. 86.). Matisse particularly noted the zones of expressive color that Vlaminck had liberated from descriptive function, a tactic fundamental to his own style. He states that 'Vlaminck insisted on absolutely pure colors which obliged him to intensify the other parts of the painting accordingly' (quoted in J. Freeman, The Fauve Landscape, exh. cat., The Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1990, p. 66). Heeding Matisse's advice, both Vlaminck and Derain prepared for their debut at the Salon by making their own frames with wood donated by a local carpenter and transporting their paintings to Cours-la-Reine in a horse-drawn cart. The paintings of Matisse and his colleagues at that time bolstered Vlaminck in his belief that he was on the right track, but the work of these other artists had been edging toward the radical style of Fauvism primarily through the theories and discipline of Signac and the Neo-Impressionists, which held little interest for Vlaminck. Since Vlaminck had not formally trained as a painter, he considered himself a true primitive whose most important sources of knowledge were painting directly from nature and observing the work of other artists. He had no respect for academic study, and chided Derain for enrolling in the Académie Julien and insisted that the value of their shared artistic research en plein air far surpassed anything the classroom could offer. He remarked to a friend, 'Together for a year we had once again delved into all aspects of the problem of expression through color. Together, we had worked in the same direction, with the same goal I had neither the time nor the means to study at painting academies. But even if I had had those means, my way of seeing the world would not have been altered' (quoted in M. Vallès-Bled, op. cit., pp. 533-534). The Salon d'Automne of 1905, at which Vlaminck and his colleagues again exhibited their ground-breaking pictures, saw the birth of the term 'fauves' and marked a turning point in the adventure. The dealer Ambroise Vollard became the principal promoter of the group and soon began to sign up the participating artists to his gallery. In October 1905, at Matisse's suggestion, he bought the contents of Derain's studio, followed by his purchase of the entire contents of Vlaminck's studio in April 1906. Vollard, with his trademark commercial acuity, had meanwhile hatched a plan to emulate the success Paul Durand-Ruel had enjoyed with his exhibitions of Monet's views of London. To this end, he invited both Derain and Vlaminck to visit London to undertake a series of fifty paintings that would then be shown in Paris. Vlaminck, who disliked travel, turned down the offer, but Derain made three visits to the British capital over the years 1906 and 1907, eventually completing a series of thirty-seven works. In March 1906, on Derain's second visit to London he wrote to Vlaminck: 'My old mate Maurice. A man who is very busy putting some order into his ideas is writing to you about his painting in the belief that we are on the right track. What do you say? I am sure of it. I saw Turner. In Turner, there is a strong reasoning for Monet, which connects with something more besides, humanism. Painting is too beautiful a thing for us to reduce to visions comparable to those of a dog or a horse. It's imperative that we get out of the circle in which the realists have trapped us. I'm quite moved by my visits in London and to the National Museum [The National Gallery] as well as to the musée negre [the British Museum]. It's mind-boggling, alarmingly expressive. But there is something else in this excess of expression: these are forms born of the open air, from bright light, called to show themselves in bright light. It is that we need to be aware of, [when we consider] what we can learn from them. So it's understood that relationships between volumes can express light, or the meeting of light and this or that form. The Thames is huge and it's opposite of Marseilles; that's telling you everything. Best. Write to me with rumours and gossip" (quoted in André Derain: The London Paintings, exh. cat., Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, London, 2005, p. 133). In addition to his London project, Vollard worked assiduously on promoting 'his' artists beyond Paris. One such initiative was his participation in the new organization of the Cercle de l'Art Moderne in Le Havre, which held its first exhibition in May-June 1906 under the direction of two native sons and Fauve fellow-travelers, Georges Braque and Othon Friesz. The city of Le Havre, at the mouth of the Seine estuary, had overtaken Honfleur as the most important port in Normandy over the course of the nineteenth-century, and was home for not only Braque and Friesz, but also for Monet who had also painted the harbor....It seems likely that Vlaminck traveled to Le Havre for the 1906 exhibition and the recent catalogue critique ascribes three paintings of the port to that journey (Vallès-Bled, nos. 158-160). It seems that the town itself held little attraction for the artist but febrile activity of the harbor entranced him: 'the port, the wharves, the small sailors' bistros and the constant comings and goings together create an atmosphere that I really like' (quoted in Vallès-Bled, op. cit., p. 357). The present work apparently dates from the Spring of 1907, at the time of the second exhibition of Le Havre's Cercle de l'Art Moderne. It takes as its subject the Bassin du Commerce, one of the large port's docks...."

Lot 12, "Paysage avec le cap Nègre," by Henri Edmond Cross, oil on canvas, 35 1/2 by 46 inches, 1906

Less well known, Henri Edmond Cross (1856-1910) shared the Fauve mentality and Lot 12, "Paysage avec le cap Nègre," is a particularly strong and attractive landscape that he executed in 1906. An oil on canvas, it measures 35 1/2 by 46 inches and has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $1,022,500. It is property of the family of Evelyn Annenberg Jaffe Hall.

"Odalyske" by Jawlensky

Lot 11, "Odalyske," by Alexej von Jawlensky, oil on board, 26 3/4 by 39 1/4 inches, 1910

Another painting in this auction consigned by the family of Evelyn Annenberg Jaffe Hall is Lot 11, "Odalyske" by Alexej von Jawlensky (1864-1941). Jawlensky is best known for his boldly patterned and colored paintings of female faces. This work, therefore, is atypical and a bit reminiscent of Kupka's great nude at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York. An oil on canvas, it measures 26 3/4 by 39 1/4 inches and was executed in 1910. It has an estimate of $4,000,000 to $6,500,000. It sold for $5,122,400.

"Only a handful of nudes by Jawlensky are extant," according to the catalogue, "arguably none of comparable scale and accomplishment to the present work....The vibrant brushwork of the present work captures the spontaneity and roughness of a rapidly executed sketch, yet, like Matisse's Fauvist canvases, it is a careful distillation of observation and imagination. In 1905, Jawlensky exhibited six paintings at the Salon d'Automne in Paris, the infamous exhibition during which a critic branded Matisse, Derain, Vlaminck and their colleagues Fauves ("wild beasts"). The zones of expressive color that Matisse liberated from descriptive function in works such as La femme au chapeau, 1905 the scandal of this show, and later in his Portrait de Madame Matisse (La Raie verte), 1905 reappear with a Germanic sensibility in Jawlensky's use of non-naturalistic, complementary colors and heavy, dark outlines. Like Matisse, Jawlensky utilized the forms of the objective world as a structure for color and an opportunity to explore the essential character of things. Jawlensky commented on this quest in a letter from 1905: "To reproduce these things that are there without being, to reveal them to others by allowing them to pass through my sympathetic understanding, by making them apparent through the passion which I feel for them - that is the goal of my life as an artist. Apples, trees, human faces are for me only suggestions to see something else in them--the life of color, seized with a lover's passion" (ibid., p.105). When Jawlensky returned to Paris in 1907 to work in Matisse's studio, he established contact with Jan Verkade and Paul Sérusier, who introduced the painter to the spiritualist, theosophical, and mystical side of the Nabi movement. The Nabis devoted themselves to exploring feeling and emotion, using devices such as heavily decorative borders to enclose the subject of their works and thus mark it as an expression of the artist's vision. Their ideas struck a responsive chord in Jawlensky, who also sought to incorporate his subjective responses into his emerging style. Matisse also articulated his desire to express something eternal and universal through the human form in his Notes on a Painter, which was immediately translated into German and Russian when it appeared in 1908....In the same year that Matisse published his treatise on painting, Jawlensky renewed his friendship with fellow Russian ex-patriot Wassily Kandinsky. In the summers of 1908 and 1909, Jawlensky and Werefkin visited Kandinsky and Gabriele Münter at her house in Murnau. Painting landscapes of the surrounding Bavarian countryside such as Münter's Jawlensky und Werefkin, 1908-1909..., the four friends discussed the theoretical bases of their art and experimented with each other's techniques."

"Maquette pour 'Personnage'" by Miro

Lot 2, "Maquette pour 'Personnage,'" by Joan Miro, painted synthetic resin, 10 5/8 inches high, 1971

Lot 2 is a maquette for "Personnage," a painted synthetic resin sculpture that is 10 5/8 inches high by Joan Miro. The unique work was made in 1971. It is property of Caral Gimbel Lebworth, who was the daughter of Bernard Gimbel, the chairman of the board of Gimbel Brothers and subsequently Saks Fifth Avenue. Carak ws narrued furst ti e'dwar Laskerand then to Hank Greenberg, the baseball player, and finally Joseph Lepworth. Mr. Lepworth died in May 2008 and Mrs. Lepworth died four months later. In 1972, Miro created "Personnage," an 11-foot-wide sculpture in 1972 and the catalogue notes that "her upper body is concave and womb-like," adding that "she carries her breasts on her back." "She bestrides the space she occupies atop a pair of ponderous, elephantine legs, one of which is adorned with a sign for the female buttocks, incongruously appearing on the front of her body....she is a monstrous but comical neolithic fertility goddess." The lot has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It sold for $374,500.

"Nu à la serviette blanche" by Matisse

Lot 3, "Nu à la serviette blanche," by Henri Matisse, oil on canvas, 31 7/8 by 23 1/4 inches, circa 1901-1903

Lot 3 is a widely exhibited painting by Henri Matisse (1869-1954) from the collection of Caral Gimbel Lebworth. Entitled "Nu à la serviette blanche," it is an oil on canvas that measures 31 7/8 by 23 1/4 inches and was painted circa 1901-1903. It has an estimate of $2,000,000 to $3,000,000. It sold for $3,218,500.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"Matisse's Nu à la serviette blanche has been featured in important exhibitions in Europe and America, including the 1970 centenary show in Paris and the landmark retrospective at The Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 1992. This work is certainly among the finest - and it is arguably the most prescient - of the exploratory figure paintings that Matisse executed during the period from 1900 through 1904. This phase culminated in the summer of 1905 with the Fauve canvases that instigated the first modernist furor of the new century when they were shown later that year at the Salon d'Automne. At various points in his first decade as a painter Matisse experimented with elements that would eventually coalesce into the Fauve look: the Corsican landscapes of 1898, and certain still-lifes of 1899 and 1900 contain the unmistakable signs of later developments. Few canvases, however, and none of the early figure paintings, are so strikingly proto-Fauve as Nu à la serviette blanche. It stands apart from other works of the years 1902-1903, and clearly foreshadows the revolutionary Fauve canvases that followed a couple of years later - indeed, it makes them seem virtually inevitable. This painting is all the more remarkable because in 1902-1903 Matisse overcame, through sheer strength of will, an almost ruinous string of adversities in his private life, which, if he had been a man of lesser will and character, might have put an end to his career as an artist....In May 1902 the Humbert scandal broke, dominating the headlines much as the Madoff swindle has done today. Frédéric and Thérèse Humbert had for years leveraged their extensive business dealings against a non-existent legacy, and fled Paris only hours before their fraudulent scheme was uncovered, leaving behind 11,000 investors who had lost their life savings. Armand and Catherine Parayre, the parents of Matisse's wife Amélie, both worked for the Humberts, and were implicated in the scandal. Police searched their home, Amélie's hat-shop and Matisse's studio for evidence of complicity. When the Humberts were finally detained that December in Madrid, Armand Parayre, then 60 years old, was also arrested and imprisoned for more than a month. Amélie's health suffered and she was forced to close her business, from which the artist's family derived their sole income. Matisse took the role of family spokesman and defender. To escape the poisonous atmosphere in Paris, the artist and his family spent the winter of 1902-1903 at the home of his parents in Bohain-en Vermandois. The situation was no better when they returned to Paris, and in March 1903, to relieve the burden of stress and financial hardship that had overwhelmed his family, Matisse closed his Paris studio at 19, quai de Saint-Michel and returned to Bohain....In mid-August 1903 the Humberts' trial took place in Paris, resulting in their conviction. It became clear that Amélie's parents were unwitting and blameless instruments in the Humbert scam, but they were devastated at having been misled and betrayed, like countless others who had dealings with the Humberts. Amélie's health, however, was now slowly improving, and in the hope of re-opening her business and working again in his Paris studio, Matisse returned to the capital in the fall of 1903, accompanied by Marguerite, his eldest child. Nu à la serviette blanche has been ascribed over the years to a date as early as 1901, or as late as 1904. It is unlikely that Matisse would have undertaken such a provocative subject in these strident colors in conservative Bohain, where he and his work were viewed with suspicion and disdain. This picture was probably done in his Paris studio, before or after his prolonged sojourns in Bohain, either in the summer or fall of 1902, or more likely following the artist's return to Paris in the fall of 1903. In either case, this painting is exceptional in his production during this period, for it dispenses altogether with the 'soft harmonies' and 'close values' - that is, the restrained and traditional palette - seen in almost all of the paintings Matisse did in Bohain, which he continued to employ following his return to Paris, and may be observed in the masterwork of this period, Carmelina, 1904....In both the latter and the present paintings the figure and ground have been fully integrated, while in the earlier nudes..., which Matisse has treated in a very sculptural manner, the elements in the background are only vaguely defined....Matisse's understanding of Cézanne, which was more perceptive and further advanced than most of his contemporaries, informs every aspect of Nu à la serviette blanche. The most prized work in Matisse's small collection was Cézanne's Trois baigneuses, circa 1879-1882 (Rewald, no. 360; gift of Matisse to the Musée de la ville de Paris), which he acquired from Vollard in 1899. The interlocking construction of the figure and its surroundings in the present painting is planar throughout, and has been rendered not through drawing, but purely by means of color forms and contrasts....Also pointing to a date in late 1903 is the fact that Nu à la serviette blanche represents Matisse in his most radical and uncompromising manner."

"Portrait de Madame M" by Lempicka

Lot 26, "Portrait de Madame M," by Tamara De Lempicka, oil on canvas, 39 3/8 by 25 1/2 inches, 1932

Lot 26 is an excellent portrait of Madame M. by Tamara De Lempicka (1898-1980), a striking oil on canvas that measures 39 3/8 by 25 1/2 inches. Painted in 1932, it is a fine example of the artist's quintessential Art Deco style and fascination with glamour as personified by the "goddesses" of Hollywood. It is one of 12 works being offered this season by the artist at Christie's and Sotheby's. Sotheby's is offering 10 works by the artist collected by fashion designer Wolfgang Joop. This painting has an ambitious estimate of $6,000,000 to $8,000,000. It sold for $6,130,500, topping the world auction record for the artist that had been set the night before at Sotheby's. An article by Carol Vogel in the May 3, 2009 edition of The New York Times noted that Mr. Joop "is taking advantageof the fact fact that in these tough times he can get star billing for his paintings, whereas a year ago, when there was no end of quality works for sale, these paintings would have been relegated to the back of a catalogue." While it is true that the artist has only recently come into "major" fashion, she would most likely not have been relocated to the back of a catalogue, but it is very, very unsual for so many works by an individual artist to come up at the same time.

The Christie's catalogue provides the following commentary on this work:

"During the early 1930s Tamara de Lempicka was at the height of her fame as a painter, and, at the same time, she was widely celebrated as a glamorous hostess and party-goer....The professional and social aspects of her life were inextricably intertwined; one was indispensable to the success of the other, and together enabled her to attain her own independent life-style, which was still a relatively rare achievement for a woman at that time. All of these qualities enhanced her reputation as being the leading female artist of her day. Lempicka had in fact become one of the most the most sought-after portraitists among wealthy Europeans and Americans. She could accept or refuse commissions as she saw fit. The international range of her clientele may have been even more extensive than that of Kees van Dongen, who, working in a very different style, was perhaps her chief rival for European commissions, but he had fewer American connections. Lempicka had been working since the late 1920s in her fully realized signature style, which informs every aspect of this striking Portrait de Madame M. Combining elements drawn from French Cubism, Purism and Neo-Classicism, her own study of Italian Mannerist masters, and showing her awareness of contemporary realist trends in Germany, such as seen in the paintings of Christian Schad, Lempicka forged her own boldly cosmopolitan classical figure style. She drew timely and fashionable inspiration from Ingres..., whose example had also served as the springboard for Picasso's Neo-classicism. She developed the perfect pictorial manner to describe the liberated assertiveness and unrestrained extravagance of the Parisian post-war années folles, the Americans' Jazz Age. Her paintings were aggressively modern-looking, yet she always idealized her subjects, in marked contrast to the German realist and new objectivist painters. The appeal of her work to the new social elite of her day was due in large part to its proud and glowing sensuality; her cool and urbane vision of physical beauty was emblematic of purposeful self-confidence, personal empowerment and worldly success, and mirrored the aspirations of this well-heeled and influential class....Lempicka made her first trip to America in the fall of 1929, at the behest of the young heir-to-millions Rufus T. Bush, who had commissioned the artist to paint a portrait of his newlywed wife Joan....Nine days after Lempicka set foot in New York, the stock market crashed, and unfortunately after she had deposited a substantial sum in a bank which promptly failed. The Bush portrait and other commissions she attracted while in New York served to cover her losses; she was, as usual, through her considerable talent and resources as a business-person, adept in landing on her feet in situations that might have set back or even wiped out other artists. She returned to Paris in early 1930, excited about her visit to New York and unfazed by the signs of a growing world-wide economic crisis that was already having an impact in the French capital....With an eye to an uncertain future, Lempicka worked even harder, and used her social connections, as well her appeal as a beautiful and extremely desirable divorcee, to eke out further commissions. She had already made her first million by the age of 28, so she would boast, and now in her mid-thirties she was confidant that she could provide as sole breadwinner for her daughter and mother, and keep up her expensive Art Deco residence and studio at 7, rue Méchain. She displayed paintings at gatherings in her home, and had her first solo show at the Galerie Colette Weil in May, 1930. Critics concurred that she was at the peak of her form....Lempicka completed the Portrait de Madame M. and delivered it to her client, André Morillot, in 1931-1932. Morillot was a lawyer at the Cour de Cassation and Conseil d'Etat, high juridical and legal institutions in the French government. He had commissioned this portrait of his wife Marie-Thérèse, née Morand, as a gift to her following their marriage in 1929. Lempicka rated this picture highly and exhibited it in her studio and at the Salon des Tuileries during 1932. The artist was unstinting in her execution here, and may have even surpassed herself: she rendered the folds in Mme Morillot's dress, and even created decorative floral clusters of drapery in the background, with a newfound relish for baroque effect that recalls Bernini's sculpture of Saint Theresa in Rome....She took care in the present portrait to weigh and balance these ornate embellishments within the overall composition, and she used the counterpoint of Mme Morillot's long bare right arm and raised left hand to frame and steady her pose amid the cascades of drapery. In some ways this painting is the cooler blue and white counterpart to the impassioned red and white Portrait d'Ira P[errot], 1930 ..., a woman who was Lempicka's close friend and is reputed to have been the artist's lover for almost a decade, until their relationship ended around this time....Lempicka, who never lacked for suitors, finally remarried in 1934, having accepted the proposal of Baron Raoul Kuffner, a wealthy Hungarian. Thus freed from financial cares, she could paint as she pleased, and she turned to new subjects, people who were humble in station and whose faces expressed an inward and soulful character."

"Tableau printanier" by Ernst

Lot 41, "Tableau printanier" by Max Ernst, oil on canvas, 21 1/4 by 25 1/2 inches, 1954

Lot 41 is a good work by Max Ernst (1891-1976). Entitled "Tableau printanier," it is an oil on canvas that measures 21 1/4 by 25 1/2 inches and was painted i 1954. It has an estimate of $700,000 to $900,000. It sold for $782,500.

"Le Gondolier de Venise," by van Dongen

Lot 27, "Le Gondolier de Venise," by Kees van Dongen, oil on canvas, 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 inches,1921

Lot 27 is an unusual composition by Kees van Dongen (1877-1968) that was painted in 1921. Entitled "Le Gondolier de Venise," it is an oil on canvas that measures 36 1/4 by 28 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000. It passed at $600,000.

"Ohne Titel (Ein Magier experimentierend)" by Klee

Lot 43, "Ohne Titel (Ein Magier experimentierend)," by Paul Klee, oil and charcoal on plaster and linen laid down on board, 20 1/8 inches square, 1939

Lot 43 is an unusually dark and sombre but quite interesting work by Paul Klee (1879-1940) that is entitled "Ohne Titel (Ein Magier experimentierend)." An oil and charcoal on plaster and linen laid down on board, it was created in 1939 and is 20 1/8 inches square. It has an estimate of $1,400,000 to $1,800,000. It passed at $1,200,000. In his later years, Klee's productivity increased phenomenally. In 1939 he created 1,200 "items."

"Einblick in eine Stadt" by Klee

Lot 4, "Einblick in eine Stadt," by Paul Klee, watercolor over pen and India ink on paper laid down by the artist on board, 5 by 10 inches, 1917

Lot 4 is an earlier and far more typical and lyrical work by Klee. Entitled "Einblick in eine Stadt," it is a watercolor over pen and India ink on paper laid down by the artist on board. It is 5 by 10 inches and was executed in 1917. It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000. It was withdrawn from the auction.

The catalogue provides the following commentary:

"During the late teens, the atmosphere of political revolution in Munich, Klee's pre-war travels in North Africa, and the artist's assimilation of Delaunay's Orphist influence were all coming to fruition in his work, particularly in his handling of color and the transformation of his drawing and form....Taking as its subject matter the compact architectural forms of a small town, Einblick in eine Stadt illustrates how Klee drew on both the influences of Cubism and the color theory of Delaunay to create a simple but articulate language that represents nature in abstract terms but without completely departing from the world of objective reality. The cell-like forms in Einblick in eine Stadt translate the color harmonies of Delaunay's Orphist circles into angular blocks of geometric shapes to create a Cubist mosaic of colored form that shimmers with light and gaiety. This joyous quality is conveyed purely through Klee's sensitivity to color and light and reflects the developments he had made while in Tunisa where he experimented with the break-up of form using a similar combination of Cubist and colorist principles. The warmth and spirit which emanates from this boldly rendered town certainly stands in stark contrast to the European landscape that was left ravaged by the years of war."

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