Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), Bouilloire et fruits, oil on canvas, painted circa 1888-1890. Estimate: In the region of $40 million. Price Realized: $59,295,000 / £45,611,538 /€52,726,938. © Christie's Images Ltd 2019
NEW YORK, NY.- The top lots of the sale were Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, which sold for $59,295,000 to client on the phone and Van Gogh’s Arbres dans le jardin de l'asile, which realized $40,000,000.
Lot 15. Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Arbres dans le jardin de l'asile, oil on canvas, 16 3/8 x 13 ¼ in. (41.6 x 33.5 cm.) Painted in Saint Rémy, October 1889. Estimate On Request. Price realised USD 40,000,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019.
Strong results achieved for collections:
• Masterpieces from The Collection of S.I. Newhouse was launched in the Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale with an outstanding result for the five lots offered, with a total to date of $100,955,000. This first grouping was led by Paul Cézanne’s Bouilloire et fruits, which realized $59,295,000 and Vincent van Gogh’s Arbres dans le jardin de l'asile, which sold for $40,000,000. The collection will continue with six lots presented in the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 15 May.
• The Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer Family Collection achieved a running total of $13,527,000, led by Pissarro’s Le Jardin d’Octave Mirbeau, la terrasse, Les Damps, which sold for $6,177,000. Further works will be offered throughout 20th Century Week, including a dedicated selection that will commence the Evening Sale of Post-War and Contemporary Art.
Lot 29. Camille Pissarro (1830-1903), Le Jardin d'Octave Mirbeau, la terrasse, Les Damps, signed and dated 'C. Pissarro. 1892' (lower left), oil on canvas, 28 ¾ x 36 ¼ in. (73 x 92 cm.) Painted in 1892. Estimate USD 3,000,000 - USD 5,000,000. Price realised USD 6,177,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019.
Provenance: Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, 10 December 1892).
Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from the above, 29 November 1893).
Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the above, 12 December 1893).
Jean and Marie-Louise d'Alayer, Paris (by decent from the above, 1950).
Sam Salz, New York (acquired from the above, June 1953).
Acquired from the above by the present owner, 22 January 1954.
Literature: L.-R. Pissaro and L. Venturi, Camille Pissarro, son art–son oeuvre, Paris, 1939, vol. I, p. 194, no. 807 (illustrated, vol. II, pl. 166).
J. Bailly-Herzberg, Correspondance de Camille Pissarro, 1886-1890, Paris, 1988, vol. III, p. 250, no. 807; pp. 257-258, no. 816; pp. 260-261, no. 818; p. 269, no. 827; pp. 269-270, no. 828.
P. Michel and J.-F. Nivet, Octave Mirbeau: Correspondance avec Camille Pissarro, Charente, 1990, pp. 136-137, no. 58.
J. Pissarro, Camille Pissarro, New York, 1993, p. 236, no. 278 (illustrated).
M. Ward, Pissarro: Neo-Impressionism and the Spaces of the Avant-Garde, Chicago, 1996, pp. 254-256 (illustrated, p. 256, fig. 11.8).
J. Pissarro and C. Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, Pissarro: Catalogue critique des peintures, Paris, 2005, vol. III, p. 625, no. 954 (illustrated in color).
Exhibited: Paris, Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Exposition d'oeuvres récentes de Camille Pissarro, March 1893, no. 28 (titled La Terrasse).
New York, Durand-Ruel Galleries, Paintings by Camille Pissarro, November-December 1903, no. 28.
New York, The Union League Club, Exhibition of Paintings by the Master Impressionists, November 1932, no. 17 (incorrectly titled Jardin de Merbeau, la terrasse).
San Francisco Museum of Art, Opening with the Fifty-Fifth Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Art Association, January 1935, p. 39, no. 29.
Albany Institute of History and Art, Exhibition of Paintings by the Master Impressionists, October-November 1935, no. 16.
The Baltimore Museum of Art, C. Pissarro, November 1936, no. 9 (titled Terrace of the Garden of Mirbeau).
Jerusalem, The Israel Museum and New York, The Jewish Museum, Camille Pissarro: Impressionist Innovator, October 1994-July 1995, p. 191, no. 100 (illustrated in color).
The Cleveland Museum of Art and London, Royal Academy of the Arts, Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse, October 2015-April 2016, p. 118, no. 30 (illustrated in color).
Note: Camille Pissarro spent two weeks during September 1892 as the guest of the writer Octave Mirbeau and his wife Alice at their country home in Les Damps, a hamlet in the department of the Eure in northern France. The artist eagerly anticipated the visit throughout the summer, both for the company—Mirbeau was among the most sensitive interpreters of his work and a fellow advocate of anarchist ideals—and for the splendid motifs to be found at Les Damps. “And your garden? Have you spruced it up, decked it out, made it more attractive for me?” Pissarro wrote to his friend in July. “If time allows, I will gladly set down a memory of it on a magnificent size 30 canvas” (Letter no. 807). The grounds at Les Damps did not disappoint, and the painter was hard at work within a day of his arrival. “I have begun four landscapes,” he reported to his son Lucien, “which seem to me superb in motifs and effects, with the hills in the background” (Letter no. 816).
The present canvas—a stately size 30 (73 x 92 cm.), just as Pissarro had planned—depicts the sumptuously planted and immaculately tended terrace immediately adjacent to Mirbeau’s house, a sliver of which is visible at the far left of the scene. The focal point of the composition is the luxuriant flower bed at the right, which comprises a late summer’s pageant of colors, scents, and textures—a veritable laboratory for artistic experimentation. A young girl on the terrace seems transfixed by the spectacle, gazing upon it with a child’s natural wonder and receptivity that forms a proxy for the artist’s own intuitive response to the motif. “One must be free of everything but one’s own sensations,” Pissarro instructed Lucien in a letter from Les Damps, perhaps with this particular painting in mind (Letter no. 816).
Pissarro built up the canvas from myriad tiny touches of complementary hues—blue and orange, green and red—to create a dense tapestry of color that seems to vibrate before our eyes, evoking the heady, immersive effect of the garden. Although the chromatic scale reflects the artist’s brief phase of experimentation with divisionism in the late 1880s, the robust and varied handling surpasses any technical formula, revealing his intense, personal absorption in the landscape. “There is something almost culinary about the way the material of the paint has been applied and manipulated on the surface of the work,” Joachim Pissarro has written. “It is breathtakingly painterly, the result of an incredibly multifarious technique, alternating between thick impasto composed of several underlayers of paint, and tiny fragmented strokes revealing Pissarro’s supple and confident hand” (op. cit., 1993, p. 237).
The heterogeneous, organic forms of the flowers and trees contrast with the crisply linear edging of the garden beds, which marks out an enclosed haven for the child on the terrace—perhaps a relative or neighbor of Mirbeau, roughly the same age as Pissarro’s youngest son Paul-Émile. In the middle distance, beyond the diminutive figure, the sweep of the terrace guides the viewer’s eye toward a low boundary wall and a screen of trees, which frame a partial vista over the gently rolling hills of the Seine valley. Pissarro made two smaller paintings of Mirbeau’s terrace that focus, respectively, on the garden plantings and this wider landscape prospect (Pissarro and Durand-Ruel Snollaerts, nos. 953 and 956); the fourth canvas from Les Damps depicts a more rustic corner of the property near the henhouse (no. 955). Only in the present scene did Pissarro connect the cultivated world of the terrace with the fertile, agricultural terrain beyond, conjuring a utopian vision of the whole of France as an expansive, communal garden.
The sojourn at Les Damps, by Pissarro’s own account, was a great success. “You spoiled me royally,” he wrote to Mirbeau, “and I don’t know how to thank Madame Mirbeau for going to such trouble. As soon as I got home, I looked at my four canvases in white frames. Though they didn’t show to good effect in your place, they’re rather good.” His only regret was that he had not had time to paint more: “The cabbages with a garnishing of sunlight; they would have been beautiful to do” (Letter no. 818). In December, Durand-Ruel purchased nineteen recent paintings from Pissarro, including the present canvas and two others from Les Damps; Pissarro held back the smallest from the series as a gift for Mirbeau. “I think you have the cream of the crop,” Pissarro assured the dealer when he inquired about the missing painting (Letter no. 846). Durand-Ruel’s acquisitions enabled Pissarro to repay 7000 francs of the loan that the better-heeled Monet had made to him earlier in the year to purchase his house at Éragny, which he had rented since 1884.
In March 1893, Durand-Ruel featured all four paintings from Les Damps in an important solo exhibition of Pissarro’s work, with Mirbeau loaning his canvas for the occasion. Anticipating the open-ended serial modality of the artist’s final decade, the majority of the pictures in the show—31 of a total of 46—came from three different projects that played off one another formally and thematically, creating links between public and private, city and country, and so on. “The Série des jardins de Kew depicted the casual and open sweeps of the London city garden, dotted with finely attired figures,” Martha Ward has written. “The Série des vues de ma fenêtre à Éragny showed agricultural landscapes in different seasons with fruit trees and a steeple-gauged hillside. The Série des jardins represented the opulent gardens of Octave Mirbeau, with exotic flowers, sheltered and overgrown spaces, a place of solitude” (op. cit., 1996, p. 254).
• The Collection of Drue Heinz launched this evening with a running total of $77,529,500, highlighted by Amedeo Modigliani’s Lunia Czechowska (à la robe noire), which achieved $25,245,000 and Pierre Bonnard’s La Terrasse ou Une terrasse à Grasse which sold for a world auction record for the artist at auction: $19,570,000.
Lot 25. Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Lunia Czechowska (à la robe noire), signed 'modigliani' (upper right), oil on canvas, 36 3/8 x 23 5/8 in. (92.4 x 60 cm.). Painted in 1919. Estimate USD 12,000,000 - USD 18,000,000. Price realised USD 25,245,000 © Christie's Image Ltd 2019
Lot 42. Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947), La Terrasse ou Une terrasse à Grasse, signed 'Bonnard' (lower left), oil on canvas, 49 ¼ x 52 7/8 in. (125.3 x 134.4 cm.) Painted in Grasse, 1912. Estimate USD 5,000,000 - USD 8,000,000. Price realised USD 19,570,000 © Christie's Image Ltd 2019
Provenance: Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist, 15 June 1912).
Gaston Bernheim de Villers, Paris (acquired from the above, 1927).
Acquired from the family of the above by the late owner, January 1961
Literature: G. Coquiot, Bonnard, Paris, 1922, p. 47 (illustrated).
H. Rumpel, Bonnard, Bern, 1952, p. 31, no. 32 (illustrated).
"Cinquante Bonnard" in Le Monde, 18 May 1956, p. 18 (dated 1908).
G. Hilaire, "Féerie intérieure" in Dimanche-Matin, 10 June 1956.
J. and H. Dauberville, Bonnard: Catalogue raisonné de l'oeuvre peint, 1906-1919, Paris, 1968, vol. II, p. 263, no. 698 (illustrated).
A. Davis, "Sutton Place Townhouse: Italian Designer Blends Fine Art and Décor" in Architectural Digest, December 1977, pp. 38-47 (illustrated in color in situ in Drue Heinz's home, p. 38).
M. Terrasse, Bonnard: Du dessin au tableau, Paris, 1996, p. 91 (illustrated in color).
A. Kostenevich, Bonnard and the Nabis, New York, 2005, p. 108 (illustrated in color, p. 111).
V. Serrano, Entre chiens & chats: Bonnard et l'animalité, exh. cat., Musée Bonnard, Paris, 2016, pp. 66 and 153 (illustrated in color, p. 68, fig. 21).
Exhibited: Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Bonnard: Oeuvres récentes, June-July 1912, no. 20.
Kunsthaus Zürich, Pierre Bonnard, Edouard Vuillard, May-July 1932, p. 22, no. 75 (with inverted dimensions and dated 1917).
Venice, XIXa Esposizione Biennale Internazionale d'Arte, 1934, p. 284, no. 39 (titled Tavola da giardino).
Paris, Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Hommage à Bonnard, May-July 1956, no. 12 (dated 1908).
Paris, Galerie Jean-Claude et Jacques Bellier, Bonnard: Peintures, November-December 1960, p. 23, no. 25 (illustrated; titled Table de jardin).
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Pierre Bonnard, January-March 1966, p. 59, no. 189 (titled La table de jardin and dated 1926).
New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (on extended loan, August-October 2001).
Note: A pageant of high-keyed color and luxuriant, Mediterranean vegetation, this idyllic scene—one of Bonnard’s earliest tours de force on the theme of the terrace—depicts the grounds of the Villa Antoinette at Grasse, some twelve miles north of Cannes, where the artist and his future wife Marthe stayed on holiday from January to May 1912. The composition is structured around an elegant stone balustrade, which divides the large canvas—more than four feet per side—into two distinct zones. The foreground is given over to the cloistered, domestic realm of the terrace, with its lively array of potted plants and a trio of resident cats; Marthe sits at the very periphery of the scene, her back to the viewer, while one of the couple’s pet dachshunds basks in the sun. Beyond the balustrade is the garden of the Villa Antoinette, where the flora—a meridional paradise of palms and laden orange trees—was left to grow wild and unpruned, just as Bonnard preferred; at the right, the dense mass of trees parts to reveal a glimpse of the violet-tinged Esterel mountains in the distance.
La Terrasse constitutes a paean to the hot, heightened palette and dazzling luminosity of the Côte d’Azur. Orange, pink, and gold are set off against complementary tones of green and blue; a ray of silvery light enters the scene from the right and falls diagonally across the terrace, catching at the edges of the foliage and casting an otherworldly, white glow over the hieratic cat on a stool in the center. Bonnard had made his first extended trip to this sun-drenched region three years earlier, spending the summer of 1909 at Saint-Tropez, the home of Paul Signac and a Mecca for aspiring colorists. Like Van Gogh when he arrived at Arles in 1888, Bonnard experienced the South of France with all the force of a revelation. “It was like something out of the Arabian Nights,” he declared. “The sea, the yellow walls, the reflections as full of color as the light” (quoted in Bonnard: Painting Arcadia, exh. cat., Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 2015, p. 315).
In August 1912, just months after their stay at Grasse, Bonnard and Marthe purchased a small house called Ma Roulotte (“My Caravan”) at Vernonnet, a village on the banks of the Seine near Giverny. For the next 25 years, until late in his life, the artist lived a profoundly peripatetic existence, peregrinating between the Seine valley—the birthplace of Impressionism—and various sites in the Midi, including Saint-Tropez, Antibes, Cannes, and eventually Le Cannet. “For a realist from the north like Bonnard, southern light was a prerequisite for his emerging art of color,” Nicholas Watkins has explained. “Yet he needed, as he said, the lush pastures and passing clouds of the north as a fitting complement to the heat and timelessness of the south, in the same way that an intense red engenders a green after-image” (Bonnard, London, 1994, pp. 124 and 127).
La Terrasse is one of the two largest canvases that Bonnard painted during his exceptionally productive stay at Grasse, both major decorative statements visualizing the Côte d’Azur as a modern-day Arcadia. The other is a panoramic composition entitled L’Été, which depicts the view from the upper-story balcony of the Villa Antoinette over the surrounding landscape; the terrace of the house is visible at the far right, receding into depth (Dauberville, no. 720; Pushkin Museum, Moscow). Bonnard may well have hoped that the mural-sized Été would appeal to the eminent Russian collector Ivan Morozov, who had commissioned the imposing triptych Méditerrannée from the artist two years earlier, and he was not disappointed. When the paintings from Grasse were exhibited at Bernheim-Jeune in June 1912, Morozov immediately laid claim to L’Été; Bonnard subsequently completed a pair of panels for the collector on the themes of spring and autumn (nos. 716 and 718; Pushkin Museum, Moscow).
In L’Été, Bonnard developed the pastoral associations of the Côte d’Azur, imagining Marthe as the central protagonist in a lively, social vignette of goatherds and dancing girls. In La Terrasse, by contrast, he created a private, enclosed world that evokes the sultry heat and languorous reverie of a Mediterranean afternoon. Marthe is now subordinate to the colorful profusion of vegetation, her motionless figure registering to the viewer within the warp and weft of the composition only after a slight, almost imperceptible delay; her sun-dappled blue jacket and brown cloche hat seem to merge, wraith-like, with the surrounding ground of the terrace. “This dreaming feminine presence, Marthe,” Sasha Newman has written, “who so often appears in cut-off views—glimpsed on a balcony, through a door, or reflected in a mirror—is central to the underlying air of mystery in much of Bonnard’s art” (Bonnard: The Late Paintings, exh. cat., Phillips Collection, Washington, D.C., 1984, p. 146).
Bonnard continued to explore the pictorial possibilities of the terrace intermittently throughout his career, most notably in a series of large, decorative canvases from the late teens and twenties that depict the grounds of Ma Roulotte. As in the present canvas, these compositions are structured around the layered planes of terrace, garden, and surrounding countryside, generating a play among various scales and distances. The terrace functions as a liminal space, midway between the intimacy of the interior and the expansiveness of landscape, comparable to the balcony in contemporaneous paintings by Matisse such as Femme au balcon à l’ombrelle verte, 1918-1919. At the same time, Bonnard’s virtuoso handling of color creates a unitary, tapestry-like surface that mitigates depth and asserts the modernist primacy of the picture plane. “The principal subject is the surface,” Bonnard maintained, “which has its color, its laws over and above those of objects. It’s not a matter of painting life, it’s a matter of giving life to painting” (quoted in N. Watkins, op. cit., 1994, p. 171).
• A Family Vision: The Collection of H.S.H. Princess “Titi” von Fürstenberg sold for a total to date of $47,400,500, with strong results across period and style including the collection’s top lot, Pablo Picasso’s La Lettre (La Réponse), which sold for $25,245,000, and Marc Rothko’s No. 16/No. 12 (Mauve Intersection), which sold for $5,382,500. Additional lots will be offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sales on 14 May.
Lot 64A. Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), La Lettre (La Réponse), signed and dated ‘Picasso 23’ (lower right); dated '16 Avril-23' (on the stretcher), oil on canvas, 39 ½ x 31 7/8 in. (100.3 x 81 cm.) Painted in Paris, 16 April 1923. Estimate USD 20,000,000 - USD 30,000,000. Price realised USD 25,245,000. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019
Lot 63. Mark Rothko (1903-1970), No. 16/No. 12 (Mauve Intersection), oil on canvas, 58 3/8 x 64 ¼ in. (135.6 x 163.2 cm.) Painted in 1949. Estimate USD 2,000,000 - USD 3,000,000. Price realised USD 5,382,500. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019
• The Sherwood Collection sold for a running total of $20,455,000, led by a world auction record for Balthus, which achieved $19,002,500. Further works from the collection will be offered in the Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sales on 14 May 2019.
Lot 8 A. Balthus (1908-2001), Thérèse sur une banquette, signed and dated 'Balthus 1939' (lower left), oil on board, 28 5/8 x 36 ¼ in. (72.7 x 91.9 cm.) Painted in 1939. Estimate USD 12,000,000 - USD 18,000,000. Price realised USD 19,002,500. © Christie's Image Ltd 2019