Francis Bacon, Study for Head of Isabel Rawsthorne. Titled and dated 1967 on the reverse. Oil on canvas, 14 x 12 in (35.5 x 30.5 cm). Est. $9/12 million. Photo: Sotheby's.
NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced the sale of eleven works from the estate of Greek shipping magnate George Embiricos in a series of auctions to be held from November 2012 through March 2013 in both New York and London. Highlights on offer from the legendary collection will include: Francis Bacon’s Study for Head of Isabel Rawsthorne, to be sold in the Contemporary Art Evening Auction on 13 November 2012 in New York; Portrait of Mariano Goya by Francisco de Goya, which will lead the New York auction of Important Old Master Paintings on 31 January 2013; and a group of seven paintings, sculpture and works on paper by Paul Cézanne, Pablo Picasso, Henry Moore and others that will highlight the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 5 November 2012 in New York. Works will be exhibited in Hong Kong, London and Doha this month, before returning to New York in November, and the entire offering is estimated to bring in excess of $30 million.
“It is a privilege to present works from one of the finest collections assembled in the post-war period,” commented Simon Shaw, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art department in New York. “The selection of works on offer reflects the eclectic and unerring eye of Mr. Embiricos, who had the ability to see and select the very best across periods, genres and styles. We look forward to sharing these pieces with collectors and connoisseurs in exhibitions around the world.”
George Embiricos (1920-2011) was a Greek shipping magnate. Following legal studies in Athens and Cambridge he entered the family business and built it into a leading concern during the Post-War period. Passionate and erudite, he retired early to devote his life to art and learning. Following the war, Embiricos moved to New York, and began collecting art. Over several decades he assembled a legendary collection of paintings, works on paper and sculpture. His profound connoisseurship was eclectic, spanning centuries and cultures. Masterpieces by El Greco, Goya, Cézanne, Kandinsky, Picasso, van Gogh and Bacon, among others, were brought together in his beautiful home in Lausanne. In 1973, Henry Moore visited the property to advise on the siting of two monumental bronze sculptures, and the dialogue between collector and sculptor was captured in a poignant series of photographs.
Contemporary Art Evening Auction – 13 November 2012
Francis Bacon’s 1967 portrait Study For Head Of Isabel Rawsthorne is a deeply personal portrayal of one of Bacon’s closest female friends (est. $9/12 million*). The painting is both a testament to the pair’s close companionship and a breathtaking example of the artist’s rendering of the human form at the threshold of abstraction and figuration. Rawsthorne was an artist who was introduced to Bacon in the late 1940s by the London gallerist they shared. Over the next two decades she moved in the same circles as Bacon at The Colony Room drinking club and The George Pub, and went on to become the subject of more Bacon paintings than any other muse. In an interview with Paris Match in 1992, Bacon revealed that they also had an affair, saying “You know I also made love to Isabel Rawsthorne, a very beautiful woman who was Derain’s model and Georges Bataille’s girlfriend.” Painted around twenty years after they first met, Study For Head Of Isabel Rawsthorne offers a remarkable insight into their close friendship as well as being a superb example of Bacon’s power as a portrait artist. The canvas has not been seen publicly in nearly 30 years.
Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, Portrait of Mariano Goya. Half length, wearing a black coat and black stock. Oil on canvas. Painted in 1827. 52 x 41.2 cm. Est. $6/8 million. Photo: Sotheby's
Important Old Master Paintings – 31 January 2013
Francisco José de Goya y Lucientes’s Portrait of Mariano Goya, is one of the last – if not the very last – of the artist’s portraits, painted during his final trip to Madrid between July and September 1827 (est. $6/8 million). Executed in the artist’s signature manner, the portrait depicts Goya’s beloved grandson and heir, Mariano, then aged twenty one. After being exiled to France for many years, Goya made this final journey back to Madrid, where he painted this poetic portrait. Following his dark and gruesome “Black Paintings,” this portrait of a dear family member represents a return to a softer and more psychologically touching approach to figure painting. Goya must have known that this would be the last time he would ever see his grandson; he died in Bordeaux only seven months after finishing this portrait. Goya painted two earlier portraits of Mariano as a boy, both of which are full-length: the first from 1809-1810 is in the collection of the Marques de Larios, and the later portrait from 1813-1815 is currently in the Albuquerque Collection in Madrid. The present masterwork has been in the current owners’ collection since 1954 and has been out of the public eye for almost 60 years.
Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale – 5 November 2012
Works by Paul Cézanne and Pablo Picasso lead the Impressionist and Modern paintings and works on paper on offer from the estate. Cézanne’s La femme à l’hermine, d’après le Greco is a striking depiction of a woman in an ermine shawl (est. $5/7 million). The work is an imaginative reworking of El Greco’s 16th-century composition Lady in a Fur Wrap, and was itself later copied by Alberto Giacometti. Le Viol is one of Picasso’s most provocative portrayals of the sexual act, created as the Nazis invaded France during the Second World War (est. $4/6 million). Rendered in pen and washes of ink on 2 May 1940 – just eight days before the beginning of the Nazi occupation of France – its emotional resonance conveys a fury and frustration that was perfectly suited to the times.
The Evening Sale will also feature stunning examples of sculpture by Henry Moore from the estate. Although Moore had made sculptures consisting of more than one piece in the 1930s, Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 1 is the first large-scale work in which the torso is completely separate from the remainder of the figure (est. $3/5 million). Working Model for Two Piece Reclining Figure: Points is another example that employs the elements of sculptural separation and the creation of negative space (est. $2/3 million).