Friday, November 30, 2007

A Yachtie’s Daydream

A Yachtie’s Daydream


Hi, I’m writing in your blog about a new sensation; surfing your blog whilst listening to the Eagles. After several tries; I’ve found the perfect artist whose works are almost descriptive of the Eagles’ lyrics; enjoy!

“New Kid In Town”


There's talk on the street; it sounds so familiar
Great expectations, everybody's watching you
People you meet, they all seem to know you
Even your old friends treat you like you're something new

Johnny come lately, the new kid in town
Everybody loves you, so don't let them down

You look in her eyes; the music begins to play
Hopeless romantics, here we go again
But after awhile, you're lookin' the other way
It's those restless hearts that never mend

Johnny come lately, the new kid in town
Will she still love you when you're not around?
There's so many things you should have told her,
but night after night you're willing to hold her,
Just hold her, tears on your shoulder

There's talk on the street, it's there to
Remind you, that it doesn't really matter
which side you're on.

You're walking away and they're talking behind you
They will never forget you 'til somebody new comes along
Where you been lately? There's a new kid in town
Everybody loves him, don't they?
Now he's holding her, and you're still around
Oh, my, my
There's a new kid in town
Ooh, hoo
just another new kid in town
Ooh, hoo

Everybody's talking 'bout the new kid in town,
Everybody's walking' like the new kid in town
There's a new kid in town
There's a new kid in town
I don't want to hear it
There's a new kid in town
I don't want to hear it
There's a new kid in town
There's a new kid in town
There's a new kid in town

"Hotel California" – The EAGLES

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair
Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air
Up ahead in the distance, I saw shimmering light
My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim
I had to stop for the night
There she stood in the doorway;
I heard the mission bell
And I was thinking to myself,
'This could be Heaven or this could be Hell'
Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way
There were voices down the corridor,
I thought I heard them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
Plenty of room at the Hotel California
Any time of year (Any time of year)
You can find it here

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes Benz
She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends
How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.
Some dance to remember, some dance to forget

So I called up the Captain,
'Please bring me my wine'
He said, 'We haven't had that spirit here since nineteen sixty nine'
And still those voices are calling from far away,
Wake you up in the middle of the night
Just to hear them say...

Welcome to the Hotel California
Such a lovely place (Such a lovely place)
Such a lovely face
They livin' it up at the Hotel California
What a nice surprise (what a nice surprise)
Bring your alibis

Mirrors on the ceiling,
The pink champagne on ice
And she said 'We are all just prisoners here, of our own device'
And in the master's chambers,
They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives,
But they just can't kill the beast

Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
'Relax,' said the night man,
'We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!'

“Long Road Out Of Eden” – The EAGLES

Moon shining down through the palms
Shadows moving on the sand
Somebody whispering the twenty-third Psalm
Dusty rifle in his trembling hands
Somebody trying just to stay alive
He got promises to keep
Over the ocean in America
Far away and fast asleep.

Silent stars blinking in the blackness of an endless sky
Cold silver satellites, ghostly caravans passing by
Galaxies unfolding; new worlds being born
Pilgrims and prodigals creeping toward the dawn
But it's a long road out of Eden.

Music blasting from an SUV
On a bright and sunny day
Rolling down the interstate
In the good ol' USA
Having lunch at the petroleum club
Smoking fine cigars and swapping lies
"Gimme 'nother slice of that barbecued brisket!"
"Gimme 'nother piece of that pecan pie"

Freeways flickering, cell phones chiming a tune
We're riding to Utopia; road map says we'll be arriving soon
Captains of the old order clinging to the reins
Assuring us these aches inside are only growing pains
But it's a long road out of Eden

Back home, I was so certain; the path was very clear
But now I have to wonder - what are we doing here?
I'm not counting on tomorrow and I can't tell wrong from right
But I'd give anything to be there in your arms tonight

Weaving down the American highway
Through the litter and the wreckage, and the cultural junk
Bloated with entitlement, loaded on propaganda
Now we're driving dazed and drunk

Went down the road to Damascus, the road to Mandalay
Met the ghost of Caesar on the Appian Way
He said, "It's hard to stop this binging once you get a taste
But the road to empire is a bloody, stupid waste"

Behold the bitten apple - the power of the tools
But all the knowledge in the world is of no use to fools
And it's a long road out of Eden

If you resonate with my suggestion ; you guys could find out more from the following sites:-

· The EAGLES -

· St Juin de BRUNEVAL -

· Gallery –

Friday, November 23, 2007

The Stadel Museum Presents Today A Comprehensive Exhibition of Lucas Cranach the Elder

The Stadel Museum Presents Today A Comprehensive Exhibition of Lucas Cranach the Elder


Lucas Cranach the Elder, The Judgement of Paris, ca. 1512-14. Oil on beechwood, 43 x 32,2 cm. Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. Courtesy: Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.

FRANKFURT, GERMANY.- In a comprehensive exhibition which will open its doors to the public on 23 November 2007, the Städel Museum will be assembling more than a hundred masterpieces by Lucas Cranach the Elder, the great painter of the Reformation period. More popular and economically more successful than his contemporary Albrecht Dürer, it was Lucas Cranach who presumably exerted the longest-lasting influence on the world of German imagery. His early landscape depictions were trailblazing, he inspired old religious themes with completely new life, as well as inventing entirely new pictorial types for the reformed faith. His portraits of Martin Luther, Frederick the Wise, Philipp Melanchthon and others have shaped our conception of these personages to this very day. Another of his specialties were exquisitely painted erotic depictions. In them he created a timeless ideal of female beauty which was still inspiring such artists as Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti in the early twentieth century. In addition to offering a superb cross-section of Cranach’s oeuvre, the exhibition will endeavour to shed more light on the secret of his success. The lenders include numerous national and international private collections and museums, among them the Staatliche Museen zu Berlin – Preußischer Kulturbesitz, the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden, the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, the Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, the National Gallery, Washington, the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, the National Gallery, London, the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and others. Following its presentation in Frankfurt, this exhibition – a Städel Museum production – will be shown at the Royal Academy of Arts in London.

The exhibition is receiving support from the Commerzbank Foundation and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., as well as additional funding from the Fraport AG, the FAZIT Foundation and Alnatura.

In the past decades, selections have been made from the enormous fund of works executed by Cranach and his workshop for a wide range of exhibitions on various specific aspects. The show at the Städel, however, is pursuing a different goal: Taking our own superb Cranach holdings as a point of departure, we would like to draw particular attention to the hand of the master. By assembling outstanding “masterpieces” from all phases of the artist’s oeuvre – placed on loan by numerous renowned Cranach collections in many different countries – the focus will be directed once again towards authenticity with regard to the works’ production. The exhibition will thus endeavour to address a central question left unanswered by every one of the other recent presentations: What made Lucas Cranach so successful?

On the one hand, Lucas Cranach is distinguished by the high quality of his works. He was an entrancing portraitist and the author of new pictorial inventions, whether hunting scenes, genre paintings or erotica. On the other hand, however, his quality is founded in the certainty with which he set his sights on various patrons, reaching a public among the adherents to the old Catholic faith while at the same time advancing to become the chief propagandist of the Protestant doctrine. At one critical point, the workshop even seems to have owed its continued existence solely to this diversification, which, incidentally, went above and beyond the visual arts: in addition to the house and workshop, Cranach’s ‘empire’ encompassed the only apothecary in Wittenberg with a wine pub as well as – for a while – a share in a printing press. Cranach’s entrepreneurial skills thus constitute yet another aspect which make him stand out among his contemporary fellow artists.

We know quite a lot about the most prolific German painter of early modern times – but certainly not everything. It is an established fact that he came from Kronach in Franconia (and had himself named “Cranach” after his native town) and that his father was likewise a painter. But where he learned his profession, and where his travels as a journeyman took him, are as deeply shrouded in mystery as ever. In any case, shortly after 1500, at the age of thirty, he comes into view in Vienna with stunning works that combine inventiveness, painterly verve and meticulous technique in a unique manner. He was active in Humanist circles as a portraitist capable of uniting suspenseful renditions of persons with atmospherically charged landscape depictions executed in a manner that would soon be adopted by painters of the “Danube School”. Other works of his early Viennese period are likewise distinguished by a frenetic expressive will in which form and colour mutually enhance one another to brilliant effect.

This phase was followed in 1505 by a decisive career move: entry into employment at an electoral court. For in that year Luther’s regional sovereign Frederick the Wise appointed Cranach as his court painter. The latter would hold this position for the rest of his life, even under Frederick’s successors John the Steadfast and Frederick the Magnanimous. Only a small number of works have survived from the initial years of this activity, but Cranach’s painting style changes radically. His investigation of Dürer as well as Italian and Dutch influences leave their mark and reveal an artist in search of “his” style. Cranach establishes himself quickly in Wittenberg and organizes a workshop which soon leads the market for altarpieces and wall paintings in the eastern part of the imperial realm. It is the serpent signet – the shield figure of the coat of arms awarded him by the elector – which serves him as a signature and becomes his trademark. Moreover, Cranach succeeds in developing a style which lends itself to imitation by his employees with such perfection that in many cases it is impossible to distinguish between the hands that participated. Individual motifs are ‘recycled’ and recomposed in ever new variations, as seen, for example, in the many versions of the ill-matched couple, several of which will be assembled in the exhibition. Other pictorial themes are also executed repeatedly with slight deviations. The workshop’s output was enormous: Paintings on wood of the type presented by the show represent only a small fraction of the production. Cranach also supplied his employer with decorations for festivities, room furnishings, wall paintings, painted cloths and the like, most of which have been lost. Yet the conditions under which he worked were anything but favourable: A notoriously empty imperial treasury, the Reformation and witch-hunting, the Peasants’ War and iconoclasm formed the historical parameters which drove many another fellow artist of the period, for example Hans Holbein the Younger, from the land. The quality already revealed by the portraits of the early period in Vienna applies as well to Cranach’s later likenesses: In his best works, his achievements as a portrait painter are equal to those of Albrecht Dürer and Hans Holbein, the two most important German portraitists of the sixteenth century. At the same time, it is not so much a striving for strictly objective “photographic” rendition that distinguishes Cranach’s likenesses, as the attempt to incorporate psychological characterization into the depiction.

Cranach’s significance as the “painter of the Reformation” is uncontested – his portraits of Martin Luther and his wife Katharina von Bora are produced serially in the artist’s workshop and used for the reformer within the framework of a veritable image campaign. In addition, Cranach makes a decisive contribution to the development of genuinely Protestant pictorial themes propagated by Luther’s doctrine and capable of surviving widespread iconoc

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Contemporary art in New-York – Confidence reigns…

Contemporary art in New-York – Confidence reigns…


Art market players had been worried by the idea of a market downturn after the mixed results from the impressionist and modern art sales in New York on 6 and 7 November. However, one week later, the strong sales in the contemporary art sector proved that the market remains buoyant.

On 13 November, the 325 million achieved in 67 lots at the Christie's contemporary art auction set the tone: the market is still very firm and prices for contemporary art continue to reach new highs.
Following the disappointing outcome of the Impressionist and Modern art sale at Sotheby's on 7 November, their contemporary art sale on 14 November cut short talk of a slowdown in the art market. At this evening event, Sotheby's achieved its best-ever sale proceeds with USD 315.9 million compared with the expected USD 298.7 million, a high accompanied by a flood of records.
The strongest results from these two days came from Untitled (Red Blue Orange) by Mark ROTHKO, which achieved USD 30.5 million at Christie’s, and from Second version of study for bullfight N°1 (1969) by Francis BACON, sold for USD 45,961,000 at Sotheby’s, an level approaching the USD 47 million paid last May at the same auction house for Study from Innocent X.

Amongst the most awaited works, the two auction houses competed with each other in each presenting a monumental work from Jeff KOONS' Celebration series. The first, entitled Blue Diamond found a buyer for USD 10.5 million (on 13 November)… a new record for the artist which was to last only a few hours, since Hanging Heart, which had been expected to raise between USD 15 million and 20 million at Sotheby’s, doubled the Blue Diamond high when the bidding culminated at USD 23.5 million! Koons, who occupies 56th position in the contemporary artist ranking by 2006 sale proceeds (source Artprice), is seeing spectacular price growth: last year, he achieved USD 16.9 million…a figure surpassed this year in just one sale.

Another contemporary art strar, Andy WARHOL,supported by 440% growth in his price index over 10 years, is still setting the auction room alight. On 13 November, Christie’s notably sold Muhammad Ali for USD 8.2 million (EUR 5.6 million), well ahead of an optimistic pre-sale estimate of USD 3 million. His Elvis 2 Times, which had been expected to raise between USD 15 and 20 million, found a buyer for USD 14 million, while the sale of his portrait of Elizabeth Taylor, Liz (1963), heralded on the catalogue cover, achieved USD 21 million (EUR 14.3 million, Christie’s)…a result while below its estimated range (USD 25–35 million) was still well above the USD 3.25 million (EUR 3.6 million) paid for the work at Sotheby’s NY just six years previously!
On 14 November, the best result for Warhol came from a self portrait in the camouflage series, which sold for USD 12 million (Sotheby’s)… In 48 hours, the king of Pop Art had 14 more million-ticket sales in his favour (in dollars)!

Another highlight of these sales was the market for Chinese artists, which confirmed its robust health in reaching new highs. Each auction house sold a canvas by Xiaogang ZHANG and another by Fanzhi ZENG. A new record was set for Zhang Xiaogang at Christie’s at USD 3.5 million (EUR 2.4 million) for Bloodline Series: Mother With Three Sons (The Family Portrait)… Then came Three comrades, auctioned for USD 4,969,000 at Sotheby’s, beating the record announced the previous evening by one million dollars. Sotheby’s set two other records in the sector: one for Lijun FANG, who quadrupled his estimate with a successful bid of USD 4,073,000, and the other for Pei-Ming YAN whose Mao, painted in broad brush strokes, found an admirer at USD 1,609,000.

If western art, despite its good results, does not always achieve its objectives in terms of prices at auction, the price explosion continues, sale after sale, in the Chinese

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Christie's Realizes $937.4 Million For November Sales of Impressionist & Modern Sales

Christie's Realizes $937.4 Million For November Sales of Impressionist & Modern Sales


Andy Warhol (1928-1987), Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Coupé, 1954, signed and dated 'Andy Warhol 1986' (on the overlap), synthetic polymer and silkscreen inks on canvas, 60 1/8 x 50¼ in. (152.5 x 127.5 cm.), Painted in 1986. © Christie's Images Ltd. 2007.

NEW YORK.- Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, concluded its Autumn Sales of Impressionist & Modern and Post-War & Contemporary Art in New York with a grand total of $937,463,050, the most monumental figure ever in art auction history, far surpassing the previous record sales total of $866 million which was set by Christie’s in November 2006. Market watchers were on alert but without fail, all sales at Christie’s showed tremendous strength and energy, with results that resolutely contradicted speculations about a softening of the market. Evening as well as Day Sales were carried by a confident, committed and eager audience, which included a plethora of new buyers, whose activities were clearly sparked by the strong presence of the seasoned collectors. Fifty-seven new world auction records were set for masters including Henri Matisse, Paul Signac and Camille Pissarro in Impressionist and Modern Art and Lucian Freud, Ed Ruscha, Richard Prince, Wayne Thiebaud and Gerhard Richter in Post-War and Contemporary Art.

“Christie's Autumn Sales Season, which totaled $937,463,050, is continuing proof that the art market is stronger, deeper, more global and more confident than ever before. This record total was produced by seven sales only, each one of which performed exceedingly well and above pre-sale expectations. Of the 136 works we sold in our two evening sales, 97% sold above one million dollars; 17% sold above ten million dollars; and 94% of all sold lots went for prices within or above their estimate,” said Marc Porter, President Christie’s Americas. “We were especially delighted that despite shifts in the financial and currency markets, American clients continued to collect passionately and comprised 50% of the buyers in our evening sales. Works of art at all price levels continue to increase in value and we believe that the market will further expand.”

Christie’s sales of Impressionist and Modern Art took place on November 6 and 7 and realized a total of $472,972,100, which was composed of $394,977,200 for the Evening Sale and $77,994,900 as a combined total for the Works on Paper Sale and the Day Sale. The Evening Sale total was the second highest ever for a sale in art auction history, only second to the legendary November 2006 Evening Sale which offered the Bloch Bauer Klimts and made $491.5. Approximately half of the buyers were American, and the rest was equally divided between European and others. 57 works sold above $1 million, 93% of the lots sold within and above their pre-sale estimate, and the sale was 85% sold by value. The auction offered two spectacular examples of Odalisque-inspired paintings, one by Picasso, Femme accroupie au costume turc (Jacqueline), 1955, which achieved $30.8 million and L’Odalisque, harmonie bleue, painted in 1937 by Henri Matisse, which realized $33.6 million, was the evening’s most expensive work and set a new world auction record for the artist. The most expensive work sold during the day sales was also a Matisse: Figure Assise, tapis rayé, 1920, which fetched $3.2 million.

Post-War and Contemporary Art was offered during three consecutive days. November 12 presented Selections from the Allan Stone Collection, November 13 was dedicated to the Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale and November 14 offered the Morning and Afternoon Sessions. The combined total was $464,490,950. The Stone Collection totaled $46,412,300*, was 94% sold by value and set 12 new world auction records for Post-War and Contemporary artists including John Chamberlain and Wayne Thiebaud. The Evening Sale realized $325,006,000, the highest total of the season for Post-War and Contemporary and the second highest result for a sale in this category at Christie’s. It was 94% sold by value and buyers were 51% American, 26% European, and 23% others. Sixteen world auction records were set, 95% of the lots were sold within or above their pre sale estimate and 51 lots sold above one million. Mark Rothko’s Untitled (Red Blue Orange) at $34.2 million was the highest selling lot of the sale. The Morning and Afternoon Sessions accrued $93,072,650 and the highlight of the Morning Session was Robert Indiana’s Love, 1998 which sold for a record $3.5 million while Jean-Michel Basquiat’s In the Wings, 1986 became the highest selling lot in the Afternoon Session at $2.4 million.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Signes d´essoufflement sur le marché

Signes d´essoufflement sur le marché


Le 7 novembre 2007, après une incroyable hausse des prix de +78,8% sur trois ans, le marché de l´art new-yorkais montre ses premiers signes d´essoufflements. La médiatique vacation « Impressionist and modern art » a essuyé les effets d´une correction de marché, puisque son produit de vente n´a atteint que 269,7 millions de dollars. Un chiffre honorable il y a encore deux ans, mais qui cette année prend des allures de catastrophe, eu égards aux attentes de l´auctioneer. En effet, les 76 lots présentés devaient rapporter pas moins de 355,6 à 494,2 millions de dollars si on s´en réfère aux fourchettes d´estimations.

L´histoire du marché semble portée par l´une de ses icônes : Vincent Van Gogh. En 1990, il crevait l´écran avec un Portrait du Dr Gachet qui devenait alors le tableau le plus cher du monde, symbole du pic de la bulle spéculative de l´époque ( Télécharger les Indices des prix Artprice - fichier xls). Cette année, les médias risquent de se concentrer sur une autre œuvre de Van Gogh, un paysage, pour mettre en évidence cette fois la fébrilité du marché. En effet, intitulée >«the Fields», 1890, l´œuvre, réalisée 15 jours avant le suicide de l´artiste et présentée chez Sotheby´s pour 28 – 35 million de dollars n´a fait l´objet d´aucune enchère ! Un signe ? Dans tous les cas, l´absence d´acheteur pour cette pièce historique, présentée en numéro 9 de la vente, fut suivi de plusieurs invendus. Ainsi, L´Echo, une toile de George Braque, lot numéro 32, estimée 15 - 20 millions de dollars a elle aussi été ravalée. Au total 20 pièces n´ont pas trouvé acheteur. La plus haute enchère du 7 novembre revient à "Te Poipoi (Le Matin)" de Paul Gaugin. La pièce a été adjugée à 35 millions de $ à Joseph Lau, mais estimée à l´origine 40 – 60 millions de $.

La vente Christie´s, orchestrée la veille, se montrait pourtant rassurante, puisque la maison de vente enregistrait un produit de vente 395 millions de $, soit 46 millions de $ au dessus de son prévisionnel plancher. Lot phare de la vente, L'Odalisque, harmonie bleue, 1937, d´Henri Matisse a trouvé preneur pour 30 millions de $ chez établissant un nouveau record pour l´artiste.

Mais au delà des chiffres, ce qui inquiète les observateurs, ce sont les risques pris par les deux auctioneers. Notamment, Sotheby´s avait garanti aux vendeurs des tableaux de Van Gogh et de Braque des prix minimums. Puisque ces derniers n´ont pas été atteint, l´auctioneer en a désormais la propriété. Dans tous les cas, il lui faudra en assurer la revente pour limiter les pertes.

Alors que le cours baril d´or noir flirte avec les 100$, que la bourse vibre aux annonces des effets des subprimes et que la récession économique se profile aux Etats-Unis, ces résultats de ventes mitigés peuvent prendre des allures de correction et donnent le ton pour la suite. Traditionnellement plus spéculatives, les ventes d´art contemporain du 12 et 13 novembre, avec notamment des pièces monumentales de Jeff Koons, vont nous dire si l´échec du Van Gogh est un accident, ou le début d´une tragédie.




There has seemed, of late, to be no end of art, or money -- but both proved to be finite at Sotheby’s New York evening sale of Impressionist and modern art on Nov. 7, 2007. The auction was a surprise, and a not unhappy one, though Sotheby’s may differ. It was a much smaller sale than Christie’s the evening before, 76 lots opposed to 91. It did not have Christie’s range; instead it had a number of high-profile lots where the house expected to make a killing. The estimates were high, good material was larded sparingly in with the mediocre, but it was not a palatable mixture and 25 percent of the lots did not find buyers. It was still fun, though the shortfall was richly deserved: Sotheby’s tried to sell seven Kees van Dongen paintings in one evening sale. C’mon.

The sale totaled $269,741,600 (with premium), below Sotheby’s presale low estimate of $355,000,000 and rather less than Christie’s total of $394,977,200 the night before. With only 56 of 76 lots finding buyers, Cassandras in the press were quick to call an end to the five-year-old art-market boom. Indeed, Sotheby’s stock dropped from about $50 a share on Wednesday to $35 a share on Thursday morning. Now that’s volatility.

Prices given below are at the hammer; typically, Sotheby’s adds on a buyer’s premium of 25 percent of the first $20,000, 20 percent of the amount up to $500,000, and 12 percent of anything above that.

Lot 1, Egon Schiele, Standing Nude with Large Hat (1910) (est. $1,200,000-$1,800,000) is a provocative charcoal portrait of a woman. Her camisole has been dropped to expose her breasts, her arms wrap suggestively around her supple body and, haloed by the brim of a large hat, one knowing eye looks back at the artist. It is Gertrude Schiele, not the artist’s wife but his sister; Schiele was 20 at the time, and she was his only available nude model. The equally lubricious Kneeling Half Nude Bending to the Left, same outfit, similar body, is thought to be his sister-in-law. It sold at Christie’s one year ago for $10,000,000. Standing Nude with Large Hat sold for $1,600,000. Turn-of-the-century family values.

Lot 3, Schiele, Self Portrait with Checked Shirt (1917) (est. $4.5 million-$6.5 million) was the main event of the four Schiele lots that opened the sale. It was a reptilian Schiele slinking across a page, more iconic than ravishing. Sold for $10,100,000. The other Schieles, a portrait of a demented-looking male and a drawing of a woman with a big behind, did well enough, but started no stampede.

Lot 9, Vincent van Gogh, The Fields (1890) (est. $28 million-$35 million), painted in Auvers sur Oise, where van Gogh moved to be closer to Theo after the latter’s marriage. In the last 70 days of his life, van Gogh painted 70 paintings, 68 of which are masterworks, arguably the longest run of brilliant painting in the history of art, after which he shot himself. This work was painted two and a half weeks before his death, and is quintessential van Gogh. Two oligarchs should have duked it out. Sotheby’s guaranteed the lot. Christie’s sold L’Arlessiene, Madame Ginoux in May 2006 for $40.3 million. This was more abstract and better. Fish in a barrel, right? Wrong. Passed - though wait a sec, David Norman said it sold directly after the auction.

Lot 13, Claude Monet, Le palais Dario (1908) (est. $8 million-$12 million), in spite of its saccharine palette slowly reveals itself as a beautiful Monet. It was offered at Christie’s in 1995 and failed to sell over an estimate of $3 million-$4 million. It was reoffered in 1997 over an estimate of $2 million-$3 million and barely sold at $2 million. Monet painted this palais four times. It seems it had been overshadowed by more ambitious Venetian pictures, but it’s in the sunlight now. Sold for $9.2 million.

Lot 15, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Femmes dans une jardin (1873) (est. $8 million-$12 million). A pretty picture of two women in shadowed background, with a foreground of Giverny-like abundance. Bewilderingly, this picture sold at Sotheby’s London in June 2006, just a year and a half ago, for $9.1 million. Perhaps compulsion or greed sent it back to the block so soon. Sotheby’s auctioneer Tobias Meyer was like a Chinese water clock, ticking out the bids drip by drip, until the lot finally sold for $10.9 million.

Lot 18, Paul Gauguin, Te Poipoi (1892) (est. $40 million-$60 million). A Tahitian-period Gauguin in one illustrious collection for the last 60 years, the Charles S. Payson family, who also sold the van Gogh Irises, not cutting-edge van Gogh, but lovely, and sold it at the top of the market. The compositionally more direct, and perhaps more desirable, L’homme à la hache sold last November for $40 million over an estimate of $35 million-$45 million in slow, labored bidding. The Paysons did not buy cutting-edge pictures, but neither do Russian oligarchs, so Sotheby’s set an estimate reflecting the Payson imprimateur and possibly a wistful hope, inasmuch as the picture features a tahitienne squatting unpleasantly in the river, stage left. On the verge of passing, a telephone bidder made one bid. Sold for $35 million. The buyer was later revealed to be Hong Kong collector Joseph Lau.

Lot 19, Renoir, Enfant assis en robe bleue (1889) (est. $9 million-$12 million), which, as noted, once belonged to Greta Garbo and is the most expensive picture ever sold from Renoir’s "Insipid Children Series." It sold in 1990 at Sotheby’s for $7 million. In May 2007, Christie’s sold Grande baigneuse aux jambes croisees contemplant la carte du jour for $9 million, sustaining at least theoretically the high estimate. The best of them, Leontine et Coco (1909), a painting of a demure Leontine reading to Renoir’s son, Claude, sold for $5.7 million in 1990, back in the day. This child looks as if she might have some cognitive issues. Passed.

Lot 21, Gauguin, Paysage aux trois arbres (1892) (est. $9 million-$12 million), another Tahitian-period picture, though without the bare-breasted maidens of Te Poipoi. It has the comfortable surface both pictorially and texturally of his Brittany landscapes. With the clothed women and specific flora, the picture was initially titled Paysage de la Martinique, dated 1887, and ascribed to his stay in Martinique. Wildenstein & Co., however, generously catalogued the work as a first-visit Tahitian painting. Whatever the date it looked quite clean at the previews. Only a few Tahitian landscapes have sold at auction. This wasn’t one of them. Passed.

Lot 22, Pablo Picasso, Tête de femme, (Dora Maar) (1941) (est. $20 million-$30 million), a not-especially-lovely but appetizing bronze, inasmuch as it appears to be made of chocolate, and is colossal. In this sculpture, Dora Maar looks puffy and squirrel-cheeked but worlds better than Marie-Thérèse, who Picasso turned into elephant girl, and Fernande, who got the full Cubist treatment. It is large and rare; only two were cast. Le guenon et son petit, a car-headed ape holding a baby, sold for $6.7 million in 2002, the most expensive sculpture in an edition of six. This one sold for $26 million to Franck Giraud of the New York and Paris power dealership Giraud Pissarro Ségalot.

Lot 23, Henri Matisse, Feuille noire sur fond rouge (1952) (est. $1.5 million-$2 million). One might wonder if this was a leaf fallen to the floor, shed from the tree, that Heinz Berggruen stooped to pick up, then sold or gave to Dominique de Menil. Another sold at Christie’s London in 2005 for $1.1 million. This one is prettier. Sold for $1.5 million.

Lot 24, Joan Miró, Le fermier et son épousé (1936) ($9 million-$12 million), sold out of the Billy Wilder collection in 1989 for $2.7 million. In June of 2007, Christie’s London sold Miró’s Le Coq (1940) for $13.1 million, well above the high estimate, giving substance to this lot’s value. It is among the most desirable of Mirós outside of the 23 Constellations gouaches. Sold for $9.25 million.

Lot 28, Picasso, La Lampe (1931) (est. $25 million-$35 million). "I am telling you dear, it is a bargain at $35 million." Overheard as two ladies strolled the preview. Definitely a top-of-the-line, high-estimate, 1931 Cubist model, highly contented, but did not do much for me. Nor for anyone else apparently. Passed.

Lot 31, Fernand Léger, La femme couchée (1920) (est. $2.5 million-$3.5 million) is a second-tier picture from a first-tier part of Léger’s oeuvre. It sold June 2005 in London for $1.4 million. And again tonight for $3 million.

Lot 32, Georges Braque, L’Echo (1953) (est. $15 million-$20 million). Braque is undervalued, overshadowed by his collaboration with Picasso. Which Braque would you have, a fauve picture, a Cubist picture or a late picture? The most expensive Braque was a 1911 high Cubist work that sold for $9.5 million in 1986; the second was a late 1952-55 picture from the McCarty-Cooper collection that brought $7.7 million in 1992. In May 2006, Christie’s sold a 9 x 13-inch Cubist work for $2.8 million and another in February for $2.7 million. The evening’s work had appeared in 1996 and sold for $2.5 million. It is beautiful, well, really nice anyway. Wrong. Passed.

Lot 33, Paul Cézanne, Maison dans le verdure (1881) (est. $7 million-$9 million), sold at Christie’s in June 2006 for $7.5 million. There have not been any woodsy landscapes to appear at auction in six years save the Maison above, Les grands arbres Le Jas de Bouffan, which sold in May 2005 at Christie’s for $11.8 million, and Le Jas de Bouffan, which passed at Christie’s last night, ominously, because it is a good picture. Les grands arbres Le Jas de Bouffan is ethereal and divine and very Cézannesque, but it sold a hairs-breadth above its reserve, and only by the legerdemain of Christie’s auctioneer Christopher Burge. Maison dans le verdure sold this evening at Sotheby’s for $6 million, a little below its earlier value once the buyer’s premium is added.

Lot 36, Kees van Dongen, Femme a la Cigarette (1905-08) (est. $3 million-$4 million), looks a bit like an imagined ad for an escort service at the back of New York magazine. With the smoke streaming from the mouth of a slattern, it was the nicest van Dongen at the sale. Sold for $4.8 million. Sotheby’s sold four out of the seven van Dongen works in the sale, all from the same European collection, which was no mean accomplishment.

Lot 37, Chaim Soutine, Le Rouquin (1917) (est. $2.5 million-$3.5 million). An intensely variegated background sets off a pleasant portrait of a man. It sold in 2001 for $770,000. The Soutine portrait L’homme au foulard rouge (1921), later, better, sold for $17 million this February in London. Le Rouquin sold for $2 million tonight, which was an excellent return, but below Sotheby’s absurd expectation.

Lot 41, Franz Marc, The Waterfall (1912) (est. $20 million-$30 million). Marc died at the age of 36 in 1916 in action during WWI, hence there is not a lot of Marc to share. Marc believed fervently in the spirituality of animals, and this morphed into a fundamentalist Futurism with Orphist overtones, half Cubist fracture, half Fauve color. There is no precedent in the records for this painting except this painting itself, which Sotheby’s sold in London in 1999 a little shy of $8.5 million. But Sotheby’s also sold a little tiny horse picture in tempera for $2.7 million this June, so the firm’s high valuation had some basis. Sold for $18 million.

Lot 46, Lyonel Feininger, The Green Bridge (1909) (est. $12.5 million-$15 million). A very buoyant estimate for a picture that sold for $3.1 million in 2001, but look no further back than last May when the big news was the candy-box-cover Feininger, Jesuiten III (1915), estimated at $7 million-$9 million, sold for a record $20,750,000 at the hammer to one of two phone bidders. Sotheby’s has mistaken the anomaly for the norm. It did not help Christie’s, however, when last night’s early Feininger passed. Both houses speculated that all you need is one $20-million Feininger to change things forever. The Green Bridge sold for $9 million, beneath expectation but more than it deserved.

Is Matisse the new Monet? There were nine lots offered this season between the two houses.

Lot 34, Matisse, Une rue à arcueil (1903) (est. $3 million-$4 million), an early transitional work that introduces Fauve color into his palette. Few have traded and none more than $5 million. Sold for $2.7 million.

Lot 44, Matisse, Espagnole (1922) (est. $12 million-$16 million). A richly patterned portrait of a woman in front of lavish floral wallpaper, in a check-patterned shawl leaning on a red-and-white striped tablecloth -- it sounds as if it would leave you bilious. It’s ravishing. He pulls it together for a third the money of Christie’s Odalisque: Harmonie Bleue, a 1937 picture which seemed pat, but sold for $30 million Tuesday night. In light of that sale one expected this painting to be equally costly. It was not. Sold for $9 million over the phone to one bidder and one bid.

Lot 51, Matisse, Nu sur fond rouge (1922) (est. $5 million-$7 million), is a very pink nude woman standing with her hands held behind her neck, full frontal nudity, a red Moroccan screen behind and a reddish Persian carpet on the floor. Passed back in 1998 over an estimate of $2 million-$3 million, it had been widely offered prior to that sale. Tonight was another story -- if a pretty nice, 1937 picture sells at Christie’s for a record $30 million, then an okay 1922 Matisse ought to bring $4 million the next evening at Sotheby’s. It did.

Lot 59, Matisse, Le repos de la danseuse (1942) (est. $6 million-$8 million). Auctioned in 1990 for $1.6 million. A faceless woman in a skirted, strapless maillot, reclining on an acid yellow-green fauteuil with red arms, set upon black-and-white parquet. Very Matisse-like, but hardly a "comfort to a tired businessman," Matisse’s mission statement. Passed.

Lot 67, Henri Edmond Cross, L’Épave (1899) (est. $700,000-900,000). This picture sold in 1989 for $467,000. A more recent sale for a same-period work brought $1 million at Christie’s in May 2006, for a bunch of naked boys frolicking in the river. Cross always seemed undervalued, but then again, maybe not. Passed.

Lot 73, Monet, Aiguille d’Éntretat, Marée Basse (1883) (est. $1.8 million-$2.2 million). It must have felt cleansing to paint on the beaches of the English Channel then walk back, in the fading light, to the nearby fishing settlements. Not a particularly special picture but lovely all the same, it sold in November 2005 for $1.9 million, but not tonight. Passed.

After Christie’s excess on Tuesday no one expected Sotheby’s to do anything less on Wednesday. But the room never caught fire until the final third of the sale, when the recognition dawned that many of the lots were not all that they could be, that the passing of major works, flawed or no, was not a catastrophe, and that Tobias Meyer was actually selling lots well below the low estimate and at approximate market value. Then people started bidding in earnest. It may have been too little too late to save Sotheby’s evening, but it was a pleasant note to end the sale.