Art News & Views

What Happened and What's Forthcoming

Post Auctions



18th Century Mahogany Bureau Table Achieves $5.7 Million

January 25

An 18th century mahogany bureau table carved by Newport's most celebrated cabinetmaker sold for a stunning $5.7 million at Christie's New York on Wednesday morning, placing it among the highest auction prices ever realized for an item of American furniture. Offered at $700,000-900,000, the table was pursued by multiple bidders, who rapidly drove the price to the $3 million dollar threshold. From there on two dedicated bidders in the saleroom battled back and forth for the handsomely carved table before a hushed audience of clients and onlookers, until auctioneer John Hays dropped the gavel at $5 million. With premium, the final price realized was $5,682,500.

The table, known as the Catherine Goddard Chippendale Block-and-Shell Carved and Figured Mahogany Bureau Table, is attributed to the Newport, Rhode Island cabinetmaker John Goddard (1724-1785). Masterfully designed and crafted, the table is an outstanding example of the celebrated Newport style of block-and-shell carving. Goddard was widely recognized as one of early America's most talented cabinet-makers and his creations were sought-after by the port city's most well-to-do merchants.

A handwritten label in the top drawer of the table indicates that Goddard made the knee-hole bureau circa 1765 expressly for his daughter, Catherine Goddard, and may have given it to her as a wedding present. The table remained within his daughter's family through several generations of descendants until it was sold by the cabinetmaker's great-great granddaughter Mary Briggs (Weaver) Case in the early 1900s. The table last sold at auction in January 2005 for $940,000.

“This desk bears all the unique characteristics and quality of construction that make Newport furniture of this era so highly prized among collectors. The quality of the mahogany in particular is stunning in this piece and shows that Goddard had his pick of the wood coming into the port during that era,” said Hays, deputy chairman of Christie's Americas and lead specialist in American Furniture. “We are honoured to have established such a strong price today for this table, which represents a new world auction record for the knee-hole desk form.”


Impressionist, Modern And Surreal Realise $136.3 Million

February 9

The Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale and the auction of Art of the Surreal took place this evening at Christie's and realized $136,316,959 selling 79% by lot and 84% by value. The sales had a pre-sale estimate of £72,580,000 to £107,060,000.

Giovanna Bertazzoni, Director and Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, Christie's London: “Strong results at this evening's auction illustrate a solid market for both classic impressionism and the masterpieces of the avant-garde. Colour continues to draw fierce competition, from the glowing yellow of Degas' ballerinas to the vibrant red in the Fauve Derain. In a buzzing saleroom, buyers from 20 different countries bought works at the sale with a deep pool of international bidders and more than 10 clients competing on several lots. The most intense interest was for the works which were released from private collections for the first time nearly all of the top 10 lots had been in the same hands for a generation or more.”

The top price was paid for Terrasse à Vernon by Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) which realized $11,578,056 a world record price for the artist at auction. A masterclass in colourist painting executed in 1923, it was one of only 3 works that Bonnard selected to be exhibited at the Salon d'Automne that year where it was very well received. Acquired by the family of the vendor in 1935, it had since passed by descent and was offered at auction for the first time with a pre-sale estimate of £3 million to £4 million.

At this evening's auction, 3 works of art sold for over £5 million / 23 for over £1 million. Buyers (by lot / by origin) were 23% UK, 49% Europe, 23% Americas and 5% Asia and originated from 20 different countries.


Old Masters Week Achieves $109.2 Million

January 27

Sotheby's 2011 Old Masters Week auctions in New York have achieved an outstanding $109.2 million. The sale of Important Old Master Paintings & Sculpture brought $90,626,878, just shy of the high estimate of $91.8 million. The sale was led by the Renaissance master Titian's A Sacra Conversazione: The Madonna and Child with Saints Luke and Catherine of Alexandria, which sold for $16.9 million to a European private collector and broke a 20-year record for the artist at auction. The sale set 16 artist records in total, and saw incredible results for important works by Claude-Joseph Vernet, Joachim Wtewael and Gerrit Dou. Yesterday's morning sale of Old Master Drawings saw its cover lot, Perino del Vaga's Jupiter and Juno, sell to the Metropolitan Museum of Art for $782,500, while the evening sale of Important Old Master & 19th Century Paintings from the Collection of Jacob Elie Safra set seven new artist records.

Today's sale realized many other exceptional prices that far exceeded pre-sale expectations. Property of the Beaverbrook Foundation was led by Claude-Joseph Vernet's A Grand View of the Sea Shore Enriched with Buildings, Shipping and Figures, which brought $7,026,500 above a high estimate of $2 million, far surpassing the previous artist record of $3.8 million, achieved by a pair of works. Additional property from the Beaverbrook Foundation performed strongly this morning, with two works by Boticelli selling for multiples of their high estimates: Christ Bearing the Cross brought $722,500, while The Resurrection sold for $662,500.

Picasso's La Lecture, of 1932, sells for $40.7 Million

February 8

Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Evening sale was led by Pablo Picasso's iconic 1932 painting of Marie-Therese Walter, La Lecture, which sold to a round of applause for $40,711,612, more than double the low estimate (est. $18.5-27.8 million). Following a heated bidding contest that lasted six minutes among at least seven bidders, both on the phone and in the saleroom, the work finally sold to an anonymous buyer bidding over the telephone. Achieving a strong total of $111,023,004, well within the pre-sale estimate of £55,630,000 -79,250,000, the sale was 84.5% sold by value. The average lot value for the works sold this evening was $3.5 million.

Helena Newman, Chairman, Sotheby's Impressionist & Modern Art Europe, said: "We were thrilled with the price achieved for Picasso's La Lecture - an exceptional work from one of the artist's most celebrated periods. The painting attracted strong pre-sale interest from across the globe, which was manifest in the depth of bidding we saw tonight - no fewer than seven bidders drove the price to a final £25.2 million. Across the sale as a whole, buyers came from 11 countries, with bidding from Asia, Russia, the US and Europe."

Melanie Clore, Chairman, Sotheby's Europe, said: "We look forward to continuing the sales this week looking closely on Thursday night, an exceptional private collection which is already attracting interest from collectors around the world."

The sale of La Lecture brought the painting to Europe for the first time since it was painted in 1932. It is one of a series of defining works in the artist's oeuvre in which he introduces his young lover Marie-Therese Walter as a recognisable figure. The couple's relationship was kept a well-guarded secret for many years, both on account of the fact that Picasso was then still married (to Olga Khokhlova, a Russian-Ukrainian dancer he had met on tour with Diaghilev) and because of Marie-Therese's age (she was just 17 at the time). Until the period in which this work was painted, Marie-Therese only ever appeared in Picasso's works in code, her features often embedded in the background of his paintings. But by the end of 1931, Picasso could no longer repress the creative impulse that his lover inspired, and over Christmas and New Year 1931 and '32, Marie-Therese emerged, for the first time, in fully recognisable, languorous, form.

Forthcoming auctions

Phillips de Pury

Under The Influence

March 8

Portrait 5, Stephen(s), 2009 - 2010, a noted work of portraiture attributed to Stephen Colbert, enhanced by the artistic contributions of Shepard Fairey who spray-painted it, Andres Serrano, who Sharpie'd it, and Franke Stella who glanced at it, will be offered as the first lot in the sale. The work debuted on the December 8, 2010 episode of “The Colbert Report” as part of an interview with Steve Martin to discuss the release of his new book An Object of Beauty. The portrait is being sold to benefit school arts projects through, an online charity designed to connect donors with classrooms in need.

Sterling Ruby's Prime Mover #2, 2005, estimated at $25,000 - $35,000, creates beauty from biomorphic structures and underscores the complexities of cultural and personal autonomy. Prime Mover epitomizes the collage essence of the artist's technique, shown here in a large-scale work on paper.

Subodh Gupta's Feast for Hundred and Eight Gods 1, 2005 estimated at $60,000 - $80,000, a sculpture of stainless steel utensils, beautifully embraces universal issues of religion, identity, and home. When discussing this work to ArtReview in 2007, Gupta stated, “I am the idol thief. I steal from the drama of Hindu life. And from the kitchen these pots, they are like stolen gods, smuggled out of the country. Hindu kitchens are as important as prayer rooms. These pots are like something sacred, part of important rituals, and I buy them in a market. They think I have a shop, and I let them think it. I get them wholesale.” Giselle's Grave, 2000, an installation by Karen Kilimnik, estimated at $10,000 - $15,000 pursues the tragedy of the artist's mystery-romance persona via the grave of the ballet heroine Giselle, who goes mad and dies of grief when she discovers her lover is a fake.


Pioneers of Modern British Sculpture

March 9

A monumental work by Sir Anthony Caro, described by the Director of Tate Britain Stephen Deuchar, as “Britain's most celebrated living sculptor”, will be offered in the 20th Century British Art sale on the 9th March at Bonhams, New Bond Street. Caro's work is currently taking centre stage at the Royal Academy of Arts Modern British Sculpture Exhibition in London.

Conceived in 1976, the five metre, rusted and varnished steel sculpture entitled Lagoon is estimated to sell for £100,000  150,000. Caro is regarded as an artist who constantly pushes the boundaries of sculpture and throughout his career has endeavoured to create work that is truly abstract, without reference to anything else but itself. Through this exploration, Caro brought sculpture down to ground level by removing the traditional plinth. His sculptures are highly conceptual and as Deuchar has put it, Caro “effectively reinvented the language [of sculpture] itself.”

Caro's sculptures are usually self supporting and sit directly on the floor and in doing so the barrier between the work and the viewer is removed. Lagoon is typical of Caro's work in the 1970s, where the viewer is invited to approach and interact with the sculpture from all sides. Having moved away from figurative sculpture to abstraction in the 1960s, Lagoon clearly addresses issues of space, mass, scale, plane and materiality that lie at the heart of Caro's art.

 Matthew Bradbury, Director of the 20th Century British Art department comments: “Lagoon is a monumental work in steel, which can only really be fully appreciated when standing in front of it. Originally intended to stand out of doors in a parkland landscape this sculpture impresses in either an urban or rural environment. Among the largest pieces by Caro to be offered at auction the sale of Lagoon is a rare opportunity to acquire a work by him on a vast scale.”

Other works of interest include six striking sculptures by Dame Elisabeth Frink, another important artist in the history of modern British sculpture. A bronze horse conceived in 1972 that is estimated to sell for £200,000 - £300,000 and a second, standing horse conceived in 1979 and estimated to sell for £60,000  80,000 both illustrate Frink's skill of modelling and then carving the plaster maquette, before casting in bronze.

Jewellery Owned by Last Link to World of Proust and Monet for Sale

March 2 

Jewellery and silver belonging to the daughter of the famous French society painter Paul Cesar Helleu, one of the models for a central character in Marcel Proust's monumental novel In Search of Lost Time (sometimes known as Remembrance of Things Past), is to be auctioned at Bonhams in Edinburgh on 2 March.

Born in Paris in 1904, Paulette Howard-Johnston (née Helleu), who died in 2009 aged 104, was one of the 21st Century's last links to the Belle Époque, the world of Proust's novel, which ended abruptly on the battlefields of the First World War. The writer drew on his friendship with Paulette's father in creating the character of the painter Elstir whose work provides a constant point of reference and reflection throughout his multi-volume masterpiece.

Paul Cesar Helleu, painted some of the most celebrated women of the day including Consuelo Vanderbilt, the Duchess of Malborough. Two of the Duchess's gifts to the artist an 18ct gold cigarette case (est £1,000-1,200) and an early 20th century French pocket watch (est £600-800) feature in the sale.

Helleu's portrait of his wife, Alice Guerin, is known to readers the world over after it appeared on the cover of Tracy Chevalier's best selling novel 'The Virgin Blue'. New Yorkers can still see Helleu's astrological ceiling decoration in Grand Central Station, painted in 1912.

From a young age, Paulette was used to mixing in artistic and high society circles. Singer Sargent, Manet, Boldini and Monet were family friends and it was Monet who told the young Paulette, "You paint like a bird sings". Half the year was spent living on her father's yacht in Deuville, where he entertained his wealthy clients.  Works of art and furniture from the Howard-Johnston estate will feature in Bonhams Art and Antiques sale in Edinburgh on 23 March.


Magnificent Qing Monochrome Porcelains and Earlier Works of Art from the Gordon Collection

March 24

Christie's is pleased to present the sale of Magnificent Qing Monochrome Porcelains and Earlier Works of Art from the Gordon Collection at New York. Morton and Grace Gordon were passionate American collectors who lovingly assembled a comprehensive collection of Chinese ceramics and works of art. Acquired primarily at auction in New York in the 1970s and early 1980s, the Gordon Collection comprises a rich diversity of works ranging from archaic ritual bronzes of the Shang dynasty, to painted pottery vessels and figures from the Han to Tang dynasties, to fine ceramic wares from the Song to Qing dynasties. The Gordon's collecting interest reflects a particular fascination with monochrome ceramics from the Song to Qing dynasties, and includes an especially strong group of finely potted Qingbai and Longquan celadon wares of the Southern Song and Yuan dynasties, and an outstanding selection of Qing Imperial monochrome porcelains from the Yongzheng and Qianlong periods. In the latter part of their collecting career, the Gordons developed an interest in painting, particularly in the charmingly eccentric paintings of Ding Yangyong (1902-1978).


Akbar Padamsee Masterpiece From 1960 to lead Indian Art Sale

March 25

Sotheby's sale of Indian and South East Asian Art on 25 March 2011 will be led by one of the most important paintings by a modern Indian painter ever to have appeared on the market. Untitled (Reclining Nude) is one of the highlights of Sotheby's Asia Week series of auctions in New York and carries an auction estimate of $500/700,000. It was acquired by the current owners from the artist over 50 years ago and has never before appeared at auction. Sotheby's presented the painting to collectors at the recent Indian Art Summit in New Delhi the first time it had been returned to India since 1960. It will be on view in New York from the 18th March.

Untitled (Reclining Nude) was executed in 1960, at a time when Padamsee produced few paintings and only worked in shades of grey. It was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in Montreal the same year. The monotone of the current work gives the figure an amazing subtlety and presence, and stands in contrast to the rich colour palette of his early paintings. Described by the artist as one of his “best” paintings, Untitled (Reclining Nude) is one of only three large paintings from the important Juhu series, with the two equivalent paintings in esteemed private collections. Furthermore, this seminal work is from the same period as the 1959 painting Cityscape, which was sold at Sotheby's New York in 2006 and holds the current record for the artist at auction.


Moroccan Magic, Orientalist Pictures & Islamic Art

March 30

Orientalist Pictures

Sotheby's next sale of Orientalist art in Paris, on March 30, will include a selection of works by artists who lived in Morocco.

Several landscapes and scenes from Moroccan daily life by Jacques Majorelle reflect his close links to the country where he settled in 1917. He drew inspiration from the city of Marrakesh and its environs, expressing all the chromatic variety of Moroccan culture in his Borjs Verts (estimate €90,000-120,000* - illustration page 1) and Souk à Marrakech (est. €40,000-60,000).

Giuseppe Signorini's Portrait of a Musician and Giulio Rosati's Two Riders at the Gallop, both watercolours, are highly representative of the Orientalist taste of Italian artists in the 19th century (est. €20,000-30,000).


The section devoted to Islamic art features an iconic Iznik blue and white pottery mosque lamp, belonging to a rare group commissioned around 1510, a few of them were made for the funeral chamber of Sultan Bayezid II (d.1512). Just five other similar lamps are known: four in Çinili Köşk (Istanbul), and one in the British Museum (London) (est. €20,000-30,000 - illustration opposite).

Sotheby's will also have the honour of offering two rare items of 18th century Moroccan jewellery: an engraved, filigree, openwork gold and emerald pendant from Tetuan (est. €10,000-15,000); and an important seven pendants lebba necklace from Fez, inset with emeralds, rubies, precious stones and a range of ovoid pearls (est. €30,000-40,000 - illustration opposite).



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art etc. news & views is a monthly magazine published from India in order to promote art and culture. It intends to raise awareness about art all around India and the world. The magazine covers art exhibitions, auction highlights, market trends, art happenings besides Antique, Collectibles, Fashion, Jewellery, Vintage, Furniture, Film, Music and Culture.