NEW YORK.- Oskar Kokoschka’s Sitzender bärtiger Mann (1907) set a world auction record for a work on paper at U.S. $425,000 with premium at the Bonhams New York’s Impressionist and Modern Art sale on May 11. 


Lot 21. Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1990), Sitzender bärtiger Mann, signed with initials 'OK' (lower right), graphite and watercolor on light brown paper, 16 7/8 x 12 1/8 in ( 42.7 x 30.8 cm). Drawn in 1907. Sold for US$ 425,000 (€374,515) inc. premium. world auction record for a work on paper. Photo: Bonhams.

(Cf. my post of 20 avril 2016) 

It followed the exceptional sculpture Eve by Auguste Rodin, which led the sale achieving U.S. $1,061,000 with premium. 


Lot 30. Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Eve, petit modèle, version à la base carrée, dite aussi 'aux pieds plats', signed 'A. Rodin' (on the top of the base, back right) and inscribed with the foundry mark 'Alexis. Rudier./ Fondeur. Paris.' (on the back right of the left); and with the raised signature 'A. Rodin' on the interior, bronze with rich dark brown patina, 29 5/8 in (75.2 cm) (height). Conceived in 1883 and cast between 1925 and 1935. Sold for US$ 1,061,000 (€934,966) inc. premium. Photo: Bonhams.

(Cf. my post of 20 avril 2016)

In response to a remarkable collection of works the saleroom was abuzz with bidders on the floor, online and over the telephone from around the world, resulting in sell-through rates of 91% by value and 80% by lot.

A second Rodin, L'Éternel printemps, sold for U.S. $245,000 with premium. 






Lot 36. Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), L'Éternel printemps, second état, troisième réduction, signed 'Rodin' (on the lower right of the base), with the foundry mark 'F. Barbedienne Fondeur' (on the back of the base) and with workshop stamp '16' to the interior, bronze with dark green patina, 15 3/4 in (40 cm) (height). Conceived in 1884, and in this reduced size in 1898. The present work cast between 1898 and 1918. Sold for US$ 245,000 (€215,897) inc. premium. Photo: Bonhams.

Provenance/ Private Collection, United Kingdom.
Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 25 June 1998, lot 164.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
Literature/ L. Maillard, Auguste Rodin, Paris, 1899. no. 16 (another version illustrated). 
G. Grappe, Le Musée Rodin, Paris, 1944, no. 113 (another cast illustrated). 
R. Descharnes and J.-F. Chabrun, Auguste Rodin, London, 1967, p. 134 (another cast illustrated).
I. Jianou and C. Goldscheider, Rodin, Paris, 1967, pl. 56-57 (another cast illustrated).
B. Champigneulle, Rodin, Paris, 1967, no. 34 (another version illustrated).
J.L. Tancock, The Sculpture of Auguste Rodin, Philadelphia, 1976, nos. 32a, 32b, 32-4 (other casts illustrated pp. 242, 243, 246).
A.E. Elsen, Rodin Rediscovered, Washington D.C., 1981, fig. 3.13 (another version illustrated). 
A.E. Elsen, Rodin's Art, New York, 2003, no. 413 (other casts illustrated pp. 494-496). 
D. Finn and M. Busco, Rodin and His Contemporaries: The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Collection, New York, 1991 (another cast illustrated).
A. Le Normand-Romain, The Bronzes of Rodin, Catalogue of Works in the Musée Rodin, vol. I, Paris, 2007, p. 334 (other casts illustrated).
This work will be included in the forthcoming catalogue critique de l'oeuvre sculpté d'Auguste Rodin currently being prepared by the Comité Auguste Rodin at Galerie Brame & Lorenceau under the direction of Jérôme Le Blay.
Notes: The composition for L'Éternel Printemps grew out of the astonishing burst of creativity generated by Rodin's exploration of the composition of La Porte de l'Enfer (The Gates of Hell) commissioned by the French State for the proposed Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris in 1880. While the essentially tragic nature of Le Baiser (The Kiss) was fitted for the subject, the joyous and very sensual embrace of the lovers in L'Éternel Printemps jarred with the serious intent of commission, and Rodin decided to exclude it from the composition. However he remained very attached to the model, which he later confided to Jeanne Russell-Jouve had first come to him while listening to Beethoven's Second Symphony, and indeed it was to become one of his greatest commercial successes.
As Antoinette Le Norman-Romain has noted, 'no one could make bodies "speak" better than Rodin, yet his message was often tragic and even groups radiating passion like Le Baiser seldom expressed a true joy of living' (A. Le Norman-Romain, op. cit., p. 335). L'Éternel Printemps thus stands apart in his oeuvre as a gloriously lyrical, joyful expression of the connection between the two figures. The dating of 1884 for the model is significant since it coincides with the kindling of Rodin's own passion for his lover Camille Claudel, who had come to his studio as a pupil in the previous year. The French government stipend paid to the studio in this period allowed the sculptor to hire as many models as he wanted, and he encouraged them to adopt their own poses. Rodin's sculptures in this period move from addressing Love in allegorical or monumental terms to taking a more human, earthy and even erotic approach, with poses becoming more daring and evocative. He declared 'there is nothing in Nature that has more character than the human body. Through its force and grace it evokes the widest variety of images. At times it is like a flower: the way the torso bends is like the stem...At times it is like a supple creeper...At other times still it is an urn...The human body is first and foremost the mirror of the soul and its greatest beauty comes from that' (Rodin quoted in J. Villain, et al., Rodin at the Musée Rodin, Paris, 1996, p.73).
By 1884 Rodin was at the height of his powers, and the two young models enabled him to arrange a languid composition on an elegant yet remarkably complex X-shaped construction. It was to become one of his most successful and influential works, inspiring among others Jacques Duchamp-Villon's cubist bas relief Les Amants of 1913. The strong diagonals and the exaggerated abandon of the figures speaks a universal language across the twentieth century, with echoes discernable across an image-saturated age as for example in Alfred Eisenstaedt's balletic photograph VJ Day in Times Square
L'Éternel Printemps began its life as a sculpture independent of La Porte de l'Enfer as early as 1886, when Rodin gave a plaster of the model to the writer Robert Lewis Stephenson. Stephenson was a great admirer of the sculptor, and when Rodin was accused by the painter Edward Armitage RA of being 'too realistic and too brutal even for French stomachs' had written in his defense in a letter to The Times on 6 September 1886: 'M. Rodin's work is real in the sense that it is studied from the life, and itself lives, ... I was one of a party of artists that visited his studio the other day, and after having seen his later work, the 'Dante', the 'Paolo and Francesca' [Le Baiser], the 'Printemps qui passe' [L'Éternel Printemps], we came forth again into the streets of Paris, silenced, gratified, humbled in the thought of our own efforts, yet with a fine sense that the age was not utterly decadent, and that there were yet worthy possibilities in art. ... The public are weary of statues that say nothing. Well, here is a man coming forward whose statues live and speak, and speak things worth uttering.' (The Times archive, accessed 6 April 2016).
As with many of his sculptures, including the near-contemporary model that became Le Baiser, Rodin was hesitant about settling on titles, preferring the forms to speak for themselves and indeed to represent archetypes rather than be pinned down to specific subjects. Judith Cladel recalled that her father the poet Léon Cladel had read aloud to Rodin from Victor Hugo's Chansons des Rues et des Bois and Feuilles d'Automne, to help him find a title, but the sculptor had evaded the question (A. Le Norman-Romain, op. cit., p. 335). Contemporary critics, and indeed the French public, were shocked by such a naturalistic expression of the human form without the mediation of a chastely mythological title, and the model was exhibited as Zéphyr et la terre and Cupidon et Psyché before it was finally settled as L'Éternel Printemps at exhibition in 1900.
Rodin signed a contract with the Leblanc-Barbedienne foundry on 6 July 1898, granting them the right to cast editions of Le Baiser and L'Éternel Printemps for ten years, renewable on expiration (the plaster was returned to the Musée Rodin in 1918 at the sculptor's death and the expiration of the second contract). L'Éternel Printemps was initially cast in three sizes, of 64 cm., 40 cm. and 25 cm., with a further edition of 52 cm. being cast in 1900.
Other post-sale highlights include: 


Lot 6. Jean Metzinger (1883-1956), Arbres près d'une rivière, signed 'J. Metzinger' (lower right), oil on canvas, 21 1/4 x 28 3/4 in (54 x 73 cm). Painted circa 1905. Estimate: U.S. $120,000 - 180,000 (€110,000 - 160,000). Sold for US$ 221,000 (€194,747) inc. premium. Photo: Bonhams.

(Cf. my post of 20 avril 2016)


Lot 14. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Paysage avec maisons, environs d'Éragny, stamped with the initials 'C.P.' (lower right); dated '1888' and with twelve color samples annotated in the artist's hand (on the reverse), oil on panel, 6 1/2 x 9 1/2 in (15.7 x 23.6 cm). Painted in 1888. Sold for US$ 221,000 (€194,747) inc. premium. Photo Bonhams.

Provenance: Marguerite Caetani, née Chapin, Principessa di Bassiano, Duchessa di Sermoneta (1880-1963).
Anon. sale, Christie's, London, 25 June 1984, lot 3.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

Literature: J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro, Catalogue critique des peintures, vol. III, Milan, 2005, p. 565, no. 862.

Note: Marguerite Caetani, former owner of this painting, was one of the most influential literary patrons of the early twentieth century. She was born in Connecticut in 1880 into the storied Chapin family, descended from Deacon Samuel Chapin who left England for the New World in 1635. Her extended relatives included T.S. Elliot, J.P. Morgan, William Howard Taft, Grover Cleveland, Harriet Beecher Stowe and the abolitionist John Brown, among others (H. Barolini, Their Other Side: Six American Women and the Lure of Italy, New York, 2006, p. 183). Orphaned at an early age she rebelled against the expectations of her class and left for Paris in 1903 to study singing. There she met and married the Italian aristocrat, composer and collector Roffredo Caetani, Prince of Bassiano, later the last Duke of Sermoneta. During the 1920s the 'Sunday Lunches' at the Caetanis' Villa Romaine in Versailles were frequented by the star literary, visual, and musical artists of the day, from James Joyce and Paul Valéry to Picasso, Collette, and Stravinsky (Barolini, op. cit., p. 194). In the fall of 1924, Marguerite turned her artistic and literary passion into a business venture, starting the revue Commerce, which published a number of unseen excerpts from Joyce's Ulysses, poems by T.S. Eliot (or simply "Cousin Tom"), and works by other English language authors including Faulkner and Woolf, all translated into French. While the review was extremely well received, and Marguerite was a darling of the Parisian artistic set, she never strove for celebrity and ultimately remained behind the scenes. Despite a gallant attempt at making ends meet, the economic hardship of the 1930s meant that Marguerite could not continue to provide the funds necessary to keep publishing Commerce. The Caetanis returned to Italy, moving into the Palazzo Caetani in the Via delle Botteghe Oscure in Rome. After the Second World War and the death of her only son on the Albanian front, Marguerite founded a second literary review, Botteghe Oscure. The review ran from 1948 until 1960 and was divided between Italian writings, and foreign works in their original language. It was originally published anonymously, but in the 1950s Marguerite added her name to the masthead. As with Commerce, she never stepped into the limelight, nor did she contribute any of her own writings. The remarkable list of contributors included W.H. Auden, Dylan Thomas, André Malraux, Truman Capote, and Carlos Fuentes. The review finally ceased publication in 1960, three years before the death of its founder


Lot 32. Georg Kolbe (1877-1947), Herabschreitende, signed with monogram (on the top of the base), bronze with green patina, 60 in (152.4 cm) (height). Conceived in 1927 and cast in December 1927 or January 1928 as the first or second of an edition of three. Sold for US$ 185,000 (€163,024) inc. premium. Photo Bonhams.

Provenance: Private Collection, Halle, Germany. 
By descent from the above to the previous owner. 

Literature: U. Berger, Georg Kolbe: Leben und Werk, mit dem Katalog der Kolbe-Plastiken im Georg-Kolbe-Museum, Berlin, 1990, no. 113 (the cast in the collection of the museum illustrated pp. 196 and 311).

Note: This work is recorded in the archives of the Georg Kolbe Museum. The figure was conceived by Kolbe, together with a pendant male figure Herabschreitender, in connection with his ambitious monument to Beethoven (1926-1947), which was only installed in Frankfurt after the sculptor's death. Two casts of this model, the present work and the version now in the Georg Kolbe Museum, Berlin, were cast in December 1927 or January 1928, while the third and final work from the edition, now lost (presumed destroyed), was cast in 1937-38. 

We are grateful for the assistance of Dr. Ursel Berger in cataloging this work.