NEW YORK, NY.- Yesterday’s sale was led by Claude Monet’s Charing Cross Bridge from 1903, which sold for $27.6 million, one of the finest examples from Monet’s seminal London series ever to appear at auction. Previously in the collection of Andrea Klepetar-Fallek for the past 40 years, the luminous canvas achieved the highest auction price for the subject by Monet. The previous auction record of $4.1 million was established in 1992, with only one other painting of Charing Cross Bridge appearing at auction since 2000.
The painting joins a group of nine works by Monet that Sotheby’s sold in 2019 for a total of $222.6 million. Each of Sotheby’s four Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sales in 2019 have been led by a Monet painting, one of which, Meules from 1890, established a new world auction record for the artist when it sold for an astounding $110.7 million this past May in New York.
A new world auction record was established for Tamara de Lempicka when La Tunique rose bested the $8 million high estimate to sell to applause for $13.4 million. Painted in 1927, the seductive canvas depicts one of Lempicka’s most famed muses and lovers, Rafaëla, and is a rare example of the female artist’s full-length figures. The previous auction record for Lempicka was established in November 2018, when La Musicienne from 1929 sold for $9.1 million.
Lot 43. Tamara de Lempicka, La Tunique rose, signed De Lempicka. (lower right), oil on canvas, 72.6 by 116.3 cm. Painted in 1927. Estimate 6,000,000 — 8,000,000 USD. Sold for 13,362,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
The selection of sculpture on offer was led by Alberto Giacometti’s Buste d’homme (Diego au blouson), which soared past its $8 million high estimate to fetch $14.3 million after a 6-minute bidding battle between at least 7 collectors. Having remained in the same private collection since 1987, the magnificent bronze sculpture depicts the artist’s brother and one of his most frequent subjects, Diego, and dates from the most important period in Giacometti’s oeuvre – the mid-to-late 1940s and early 1950s, a period in which the artist created his most celebrated and best-known works.
Lot 13. Alberto Giacometti, Buste d’homme (Diego au blouson), inscribed Alberto Giacometti, dated 1953 and numbered 2/6. Bronze. Height: 35.5 cm. Conceived circa 1953; this example cast in 1953 by Susse Fondeur, Paris). Estimate 6,000,000 — 8,000,000 USD. Sold for 14,273,700 USD. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
Other sculpture highlights included Auguste Rodin’s Cariatide tombée portant sa pierre, agrandissement d'un tiers – an eloquent representation of Rodin’s artistic vision and sheer mastery of the medium, which bested the $6 million high estimate to realize $7.6 million. Sold on behalf of the Ruthmere Museum in Elkhart, Indiana, the captivating work is an incredibly rare example of Rodin’s limestone sculptures and depicts one of the artist’s most recognizable and sought-after subjects, originally designed as part of Rodin’s monumental Gates of Hell. The work was commissioned from the artist by collector Berthe Dumon, who became entranced by a plaster form of the work during a visit to Rodin’s studio in February 1894.
Lot 7. Auguste Rodin, Cariatide tombée portant sa pierre, agrandissement d'un tiers, inscribed A. Rodin. French limestone. Height: 63.4 cm. Conceived circa 1881-82 and carved in 1893-94. Estimate 4,000,000 — 6,000,000 USD. Sold for 7,553,600 USD. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
Gustave Caillebotte’s final painting in a series of four portraits of Richard Gallo, his good friend and most frequently portrayed figure, Richard Gallo et son chien Dick, au Petit-Gennevilliers sold for $19.7 million. The 1894 work is the only example of Caillebotte’s renderings of Gallo remaining in private hands and epitomizes Impressionist portraiture and landscape painting on an impressive scale. Gallo was the Egyptian-born son of a French banker who settled in Paris in 1869 and befriended the artist at school. Gallo would go on to become the editor of the newspaper Le Constitutionnel and maintained his friendship with Caillebotte and his brother Martial for years to follow. While little more is known about Gallo, the frequency with which he is portrayed in Caillebotte’s oeuvre stands as a testament to the pair’s lasting friendship. The other three portraits of Gallo by Caillebotte currently reside in museum collections.
Lot 25. Gustave Caillebotte, Richard Gallo et son chien Dick, au Petit-Gennevilliers, signed G. Caillebotte and dated 1884 (lower left), oil on canvas, 89 by 116 cm. Painted in 1884. Estimate 18,000,000 — 25,000,000 USD. Sold for 19,686,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
The largest and most vivid of the 12 works that comprise Paul Signac’s Istanbul series, La Corne d'Or (Constantinople) from 1907 achieved $16.2 million. Depicting a lush, textural surface comprised of rectangular brushstrokes, the painting captures the grandeur, history and unique quality of light and color that filled the ancient city and once belonged to the Cachin-Signac family for 70 years. Francoise Cachin was the leading Signac expert and author of the artist’s catalogue raisonnée, as well as director of the Museums of France.
Lot 21. Paul Signac, La Corne d'Or (Constantinople), signed P. Signac and dated 1907 (lower left), oil on canvas, 89.2 by 116.3 cm. Painted in 1907. Estimate 14,000,000 — 18,000,000 USD. Sold for 16,210,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
One of the earliest works featuring René Magritte’s favored stone motif, La Légende des siècles from 1950, surpassed the $6 million high estimate to sell for $8.6 million in its auction debut, having been held in the same family collection since it was gifted by Magritte to a friend of his brother, Jean Debernardi. The work is the third and most complex oil version on this theme that Magritte painted in 1950; the largest of the three versions is in the collection of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh.
Lot 17. René Magritte, La Légende des siècles, signed Magritte (lower left); titled, numbered (III) and dated 1950 (on the reverse), oil on canvas, 55 by 46 cm. Painted in 1950. Estimate 14,000,000 — 18,000,000 USD. Sold for 16,210,000 USD. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
August Uribe, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department in New York, commented: “Tonight marks the fourth consecutive Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale at Sotheby’s to be led by Claude Monet, demonstrating the continued strength of the auction market for this iconic artist. In total, nine works by Monet have achieved a market-leading $292 million across our international salesrooms this year alone. Charing Cross Bridge was one of the many works appearing at auction tonight for the first time, having remained in the private collection of Andrea Klepetar-Fallek for more than 40 years. This is a sophisticated market that responds to the very best, and we saw international competition tonight for fresh works of the highest quality.”
Julian Dawes, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sales in New York, said: “Tonight’s sale reflected the depth and strength of the Impressionist & Modern art market at every level. We witnessed heated bidding between at least seven collectors for Alberto Giacometti’s bust of his brother Diego, which brought one of the top prices for this iconic subject, as well as competition for Tamara de Lempicka’s sensual portrait La Tunique rose, which achieved a new auction record for the artist. Across the breadth of our collecting field, it was clear that there is continued growth and opportunity in this market.”
Another highlights includes:
Lot 29. Pablo Picasso, Nus, signed Picasso (upper left); inscribed Boisgeloup and dated 8 Avril XXXIV. (upper right), oil and Ripolin on canvas, 81.3 by 100 cm0 Painted on April 8, 1934. Estimate 12,000,000 — 18,000,000 USD. Sold for 9,945,500 USD. Courtesy Sotheby’s.
Lot 22. Vincent van Gogh, People Strolling in a Park in Paris, signed Vincent (lower right), oil on canvas, 46.5 by 38 cm. Painted in Paris in the fall of 1886. Estimate 5,000,000 — 7,000,000 USD. Sold for 5,000,000 — 7,000,000USD. Courtesy Sotheby’s.