Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Making of Daliwood - Dalí & Film Comes to the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg

The Making of Daliwood - Dalí & Film Comes to the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg


Salvador Dalí (Spain, 1904-1989), Metamorphosis of Narcissus, 1937. Oil on canvas, 51.1 x 78.1 cm. Tate. Purchased 1979. © Salvador Dalí, Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, Artists Rights Society, 2007.

ST. PETERSBURG, FL.- The Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg presents Dalí & Film, the first exhibition examining the profound relationship between the paintings and films of Salvador Dalí (1904-1989). Premiering on February 8, 2008 and running to June 1, 2008, the exhibition reveals how Dalí combined his skills in painting with the new and exciting possibilities of the moving image to define a new art.

Dalí is perhaps the most recognizable and important artist of the twentieth century and the dream-like images he invented in his paintings are engraved in the public consciousness. This new exhibition demonstrates that Dalí, influenced by the illusionary space that can be created in painting, his surrealist inventions and his love of film, helped define the conventions of this new medium. His brilliant films and his film-inspired paintings created some of the most memorable and influential images in avant-garde art.

“Dalí explored his obsessions in each medium in which he worked—the relationship between his paintings and his films provides a fascinating insight into his imagination,” said Hank Hine, Salvador Dalí Museum Executive Director. “There was a time when film convention was invented, was constructed frame by frame. Dalí was one of its most significant inventors. Painting was his resource. We are proud to host this presentation that explores the very nature of painting and film.”

Featuring over one hundred works from collections from all over Europe and America, together with films, photographs, film scripts, and drawings, Dalí & Film opened at the Tate Modern in London, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and will be displayed at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City in 2008. For the exhibit at the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg a number of important works drawn from the Dalí Museum’s own extensive collection have been added, including The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory (1952-54), and The Ghost of Vermeer of Delft which can be used as a Table (1934).

Like the artist himself, Dali’s relationship with film is complex and contradictory. “The best cinema is the kind that can be perceived with your eyes closed,” Dalí wrote in 1927, recognizing both the power and mystery of the medium. Dalí approached film as both an inspiration and an outlet for experimentation. The cross-fertilization of ideas between film and painting can be seen in The First Days of Spring (1929) and The Persistence of Memory (1931), two paintings with compositions that dissolve into other images as they would in moving pictures. These works coincide with the artist’s first movie collaborations with the celebrated Spanish director Luis Buñuel in 1929-30. Just as Dalí brought new images into the popular imagination in his paintings, he also invented some of the most memorable images on film. From his fantastical imagination and obsession with dreams and the subconscious, unforgettable haunting images—such as the slicing of an eyeball with a razor and a hand infected with ants in Un Chien andalou (1929)—mirror the disturbing anatomic depictions in major paintings of that moment, including Apparatus and Hand (1927).

It is no surprise that Dalí’s interest in film led him to Hollywood. While exiled in the United States during the Second World War, he gravitated to Hollywood to work on major studio productions with Twentieth Century Fox, Alfred Hitchcock, Walt Disney and the Marx Brothers. His dream-like vision proved ideal for the 1940’s movie industry where total immersion in Dalí’s imagination became possible for a mass audience—and where his impact still resonates today. Writing for The Guardian, JG Ballard (Empire of the Sun; Crash) commented: “We no longer live in a literary culture, and the human eye has been fine-tuned by a half-century of film and television. Dalí's paintings, with their distant horizon lines, pseudo-Renaissance perspectives and mentalised stage-sets, are naturals for the age of the plasma TV screen.” (May 26, 2007)

The complete exhibition features his major film projects, including Un Chien andalou, (1929) L’Âge d’or (1930), Spellbound (1945), Chaos and Creation (1960)—the first time a major artist used video—and the Dalí/Disney animated short Destino (1946), seen alongside Dalí’s most famous paintings, including The Persistence of Memory (1931), The Metamorphosis of Narcissus (1937), as well as other major works on loan from the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tate Modern, London; the Guggenheim, New York; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya, Barcelona; the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the National Gallery of Canada.

Dalí and Film is curated by Tate curators Helen Sainsbury and Matthew Gale (editor of Dalí and Film); Dawn Ades, Dalí scholar and curator of Salvador Dalí: Centenary Exhibition; Montse Aguer, Director, Centre d’Estudis Dalinians, Gala-Salvador Dalí Foundation; and Félix Fanès, curator of Dalí and Mass Culture. The exhibition in St. Petersburg is curated by William Jeffett, Curator of Special Exhibitions, Salvador Dalí Museum.

The St. Petersburg presentation is made possible by Progress Energy, a Museum sponsor since 2002, whose continued support for arts provides a benchmark for corporate engagement in the community. Presenting Sponsors for the St. Petersburg exhibition include Ovation by JMC Communities and M&I Wealth Management with additional support from the Renaissance Vinoy Resort and Golf Club, and Visit St. Petersburg/Clearwater.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Paris Week - A Major Series of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art Sales

Paris Week - A Major Series of Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art Sales


Man Ray, Portrait of Juliet, 1947, 200 000 -300 000 €. Vendu : 491 250 €. © Sotheby's Images.

PARIS, FRANCE.- Paris Week, the inagural series of events organised this week by Sotheby’s France, has concluded tonight on a high note, with the results of today’s sale of Impressionist, Modern & Surrealist Art bringing the total for the week to €37,165,325 ($54,477,158), the best result achieved in Paris for a series of sales at Sotheby’s to date.

The two sessions of Contemporary Art achieved a combined total of €25,693,925 ($37,606,399), while today’s session of Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist Art realised €11,471,400 ($16,870,759). Both of these results represent the highest totals in their respective categories at Sotheby’s Paris since the French auction market was opened in 2001.

Guillaume Cerutti, Président-Directeur Général, Sotheby’s France, commented: “The unprecedented success seen during this week of sales has confirmed Paris as a major selling centre in the international auction market for Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary Art, just after New York and London. These results confirm the strategic decision taken by Sotheby’s to stage these sales of an international level in Paris, which we intend to build on in the future.”

Andrew Strauss, Head of Impressionist & Modern Art, Sotheby’s Paris, said:“We are delighted with the results of today’s sale, the highest total ever achieved for a sale of Impressionist & Modern Art staged by Sotheby’s France. The sale was well curated, as proven by the prices achieved for works by Picasso, Picabia and Man Ray. Today’s results – especially the record price achieved for the Picasso drawing – deomonstrate that Paris was a good choice as a selling location for works by these artists.”

The week of sales was highlighted by the sale of Francis Bacon’s Seated Woman (Portrait of Muriel Belcher) which last night fetched €13.7 ($20) million – the highest price achieved for any work of art sold at auction in France since 1989. In addition, new auction records were established, six of them artist records, and two records by medium, for artists including Picasso, Christo and Martial Raysse. Further strong prices were achieved by artists such as Man Ray and Francis Picabia.

Highlights in today’s sale included Pablo Picasso’s late work on paper entitled Un matin au harem, dated 1954, which achieved €1,555,450 against a pre-sale estimate of €500,000-700,000 and established an auction record for a Post-War work on paper by the artist. The second highest price achieved in the sale, meanwhile, was Ergo, a 1947 work by Francis Picabia, which sold for €1,376,250 against a pre-sale estimate of €800,000-1,000,000. Man Ray’s portrait of Juliet, the cover lot of the sale, was sold for €491,450 (estimate: €200,000-300,000).

The seller of Seated Woman, Mrs Audrey Irmas, said after last night’s sale: “We are thrilled beyond words by the result achieved for Seated Woman, which has been a prized part of our collection for a number of years. The proceeds from the sale of the painting will be donated to the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Family Foundation and will be used particularly to address women’s causes around the world. In the first year alone, we intend to donate $300,000 each to women’s programmes in Darfur, New Orleans and South Central Los Angeles.”

Friday, December 14, 2007

La Recette de l'Amour fou - Serge Gainsbourg

La Recette de l'Amour fou - Serge Gainsbourg


Jane Birkin et Serge Gainsbourg

Dans un boudoir introduisez un cœur bien tendre
Sur canapé laissez s'asseoir et se détendre
Versez une larme de porto
Et puis mettez-vous au piano
Jouez Chopin
Avec dédain
Égrenez vos accords
Et s'il s'endort
Alors là, jetez-le dehors

Le second soir faites revenir ce cœur bien tendre
Faites mijoter trois bons quarts d'heure à vous attendre
Et s'il n'est pas encore parti
Soyez-en sûr c'est qu'il est cuit
Sans vous trahir
Laissez frémir
Faites attendre encore
Et s'il s'endort
Alors là, jetez-le dehors

Le lendemain il ne tient qu'à vous d'être tendre
Tamisez toutes les lumières et sans attendre
Jouez la farce du grand amour
Dites " jamais " dites " toujours "
Et consommez
Sur canapé
Mais après les transports
Ah ! s'il s'endort
Alors là, foutez-le dehors

Francis Bacon's Seated Woman Sold for $20 Million, Highest Price for Work of Art in France

Francis Bacon's Seated Woman Sold for $20 Million, Highest Price for Work of Art in France


Francis Bacon, Seated Woman (Portrait of Muriel Belcher), 1961. Highest price for a work of art in France since 1989. Highest price for a work of Contemporary Art in France. © Sotheby's Images.

PARIS, FRANCE.-, December 12th, 2007 – Sotheby’s inaugural Evening Sale of Contemporary Art tonight achieved a phenomenal total of €23,140,600 ($33,869,276; £16,569,285), the highest total for a sale of Contemporary Art staged by Sotheby’s in Continental Europe and the highest total for any auction held at Sotheby’s in France.

The top lot in tonight’s sale was Francis Bacon’s study, entitled Seated Woman (Portrait of Muriel Belcher), which sold for €13,696,250 ($20,046,242) – the highest price ever paid for a work of Contemporary Art in France.

Seated Woman portrays an isolated woman on a seemingly dismantled couch. It shows her seated practically hunched over, and almost suspended between two swathes of lilac and bottle green. Muriel Belcher was a bartender at the Colony Room, Bacon’s favourite drinking hole in London’s Soho, and she was not only a friend and confidante of the artist, but also became one of his favourite models, along with Isabel Rawsthorne and Henrietta Moraes. The work had a pre-sale estimate of €7.5-10 million, which was comfortably eclipsed after a protracted bidding war between two collectors, one in the room and another on the telephone. Finally, the client bidding in the room won the battle when the auctioneer brought the hammer down at €12.2 million, and the room broke into applause.

Guillaume Cerutti, Président-directeur General, Sotheby’s France, said: “Tonight, Paris has confirmed its stature in the international market for Contemporary Art. This has been the biggest sale organised by Sotheby’s Paris to date since 2001, when the French market was opened.”

Grégoire Billault, Head of Contemporary Art, Sotheby’s Paris, added: “The result achieved for Francis Bacon’s portrait of Muriel Belcher has vindicated our decision to propose Paris as the selling location for the work. Tonight we achieved the sixth highest price for a work by Bacon at auction and have confirmed Sotheby’s domination in the market for his works.”

Sotheby’s has had an exceptionally successful year for works by Francis Bacon, having now sold five of the top six most expensive works by the artist at auction, and achieving a world record price for him at auction in New York in May for Study from Innocent X (1962), which sold for $52.7 million, which was followed by Self Portrait (1978), sold in London in June for £21.6 ($42.6) million – the most expensive Post-War work of art ever sold in Europe. Seated Woman is the sixth highest price paid for a work by Bacon at auction, and has now established Paris as the third most important selling location for Post-War art and in particular works by the artist.

The seller of Seated Woman, Mrs Audrey Irmas, said after tonight’s sale: “We are thrilled beyond words by the result achieved for Seated Woman, which has been a prized part of our collection for a number of years. The proceeds from the sale of the painting will be donated to the Audrey and Sydney Irmas Family Foundation and will be used particularly to address women’s causes around the world. In the first year alone, we intend to donate $300,000 each to women’s programmes in Darfur, New Orleans and South Central Los Angeles.”

The sale continues tomorrow, and will be followed by a sale of Impressionist, Modern and Surrealist Art, which will conclude Sotheby’s Paris Week.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Richard Prince

Richard Prince


La rétrospective de Richard Prince, ouverte au musée Guggenheim de New-York du 29 septembre 2007 au 9 janvier 2008, est un hommage stimulant pour les ventes : les prix de Prince ont flambé en novembre!

Richard PRINCE est un collectionneur insatiable d´images, d´ouvrages, de photos, de publicités dans lesquelles il puise la matière première de ses œuvres. Car tout l´art de Prince est question de regard sur l´imagerie populaire et se concentre sur le détournement des archétypes et des stéréotypes américains.
L´exposition en cours permet de découvrir les différentes séries qui jalonnent 30 années de création et ses divers médiums d´expression : photographie certes, mais aussi peinture, sculpture et installation. L´hommage du Guggenheim sonne comme un anniversaire puisque l´artiste a commencé à rephotographier des images publicitaires pour s´approprier les clichés américains en 1977.

Il a fallu six ans pour que Richard Prince décuple son produit des ventes annuel jusqu´à un sommet de 14 millions de dollars en 2006… L´année 2007 est au-delà de tous les pronostics : lors des ventes new-yorkaises de novembre, il dégageait pas moins de 15,3 millions de dollars en deux jours et cinq coups de marteau!

Les cinq œuvres millionnaires, dispersées entre le 13 et le 15 novembre, ont toutes explosé leurs fourchettes d´estimation, a commencer par Piney Woods Nurse, une infirmière séduisante et sanguinolente de 2002 qui tripla son estimation basse pour une enchère finale à 5,4 millions de dollars chez Christie´s. Le lendemain chez Sotheby´s, deux œuvres doublèrent leurs prévisions : la toile He aint's here yet, simple phrase humoristique sur fond monochrome de 1988, qui s´envola à 1,2 million de dollars ; une adjudication suivie quelques minutes plus tard par l´ektachrome monumental d´un Cow-Boy (254x169 cm) devant un crépuscule rougeoyant emporté pour 3 millions de dollars… Ce Cow-boy, icône des campagnes publicitaires de Marlboro, est la photographie contemporaine la plus chère du marché, devant « 99 cent II »Andreas GURSKY, adjugé 1,5 million de livres sterling, soit 2,9 millions de dollars environ en février dernier chez Sotheby´s!

Le festival millionnaire s´est poursuivi le 15 novembre chez Phillips, de Pury & Company avec deux toiles de la série Nurse : en début de vente, la première fut adjugée 1,9 millions de dollars, bientôt suivie par une Registered Nurse plus aboutie emportée pour 3,8 millions de dollars.

Les Nurses et les Cow-boys sont les séries les plus cotées : on leur doit 9 des 10 enchères millionnaires des deux dernières années. Si nombre d´épreuves photographiques tirées à plus de vingt exemplaires, s´échangent entre 1 000 et 10 000 dollars en moyenne, le ticket d´entrée pour une peinture d´un format modeste (une soixantaine de centimètres) est aujourd´hui de 100 000 dollars. Quatre ans plus tôt, il était de moins de 20 000 dollars !
Pour preuve : «Was that a girl», une toile de 1989 la série Cartoons ou l´artiste s´approprie des dessins humoristiques, changea de main pour 19 000 dollars chez Sotheby's NY en 2003. En février 2007, la même œuvre fit grimper les enchères à 58 000 livres sterling chez le même auctioneer, l´équivalent de 118 000 dollars.

Richard Prince
Untitled, 1986

Works on Paper (Drawings, Watercolors etc.),
Dranoff Fine Art

Richard Prince
Untitled, 1998

Dranoff Fine Art

Richard Prince
Untitled (publicity), 2004

Gagosian Gallery, CA

Richard Prince
Untitled (check painting) #15, 2004

Gagosian Gallery, CA

Richard Prince
Untitled (check painting) #11, 1999

Gagosian Gallery, CA

Richard Prince
Upstate, 1995

Gladstone Gallery

Richard Prince
Untitled (Publicity), 2000

Gladstone Gallery

Richard Prince
Jokes, 1999

Gladstone Gallery

Richard Prince
Untitled, 1999

Gladstone Gallery

Richard Prince
Cowboys & Girlfriends (RP-CC), 1992

Ikon Ltd./Kay Richards Contemporary Art

Richard Prince
Joke, Girlfriend, Cowboy, 2001

Ikon Ltd./Kay Richards Contemporary Art

Richard Prince
Untitled (Joke .... Sally), 1986

Works on Paper (Drawings, Watercolors etc.),
Ikon Ltd./Kay Richards Contemporary Art

Richard Prince
Cowboys & Girlfriends (RP-G1), 1992

Ikon Ltd./Kay Richards Contemporary Art

Richard Prince
Man O Man, 1999

Max Lang

Richard Prince
Untitled (Upstate) (The Whitney Museum of American Art 75th Anniversary Photography Portfolio), 2006

Carolina Nitsch Contemporary Art

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bard Hall Gallery Presents Figurative Paintings by Mollie Kellogg

Bard Hall Gallery Presents Figurative Paintings by Mollie Kellogg


SAN DIEGO, CA.-Mollie Kellogg is displaying her figurative works from 2007 at Bard Hall Gallery December 3-30, 2007. A reception will be held Tuesday, December 18, 2007 from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. followed by a discussion from 7:30 to 9:00 p.m. The Bard Hall Gallery is located in the First Unitarian Universalist Church of San Diego, 4190 Front Street, Hillcrest, 619-298-9978. The gallery is open Mon.-Fri., 8am-4pm; Sun., 9:30am-12:30pm. Contact office for holiday hours. Free parking in church ACE parking lot, check-in at the office on weekdays.

Mollie currently has shows in New York, Solana Beach, Phoenix and San Diego. New York Gallery & Studio Magazine describes Mollie’s work as a “Magical Blend of Domestic Detail and Imaginative Depth”.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

La sculpture moderne au top

La sculpture moderne au top


Sur la période moderne, la sculpture progresse plus vite que la peinture. Sa cote est au plus haut en 2007, son indice des prix a grimpé de 100 % sur 15 ans !

Sans surprise, Pablo PICASSO, le plus coté des peintres est aussi le plus cher en trois dimensions. Dopé aux enchères millionnaires, il tenait encore l´affiche des ventes new-yorkaises en novembre dernier avec une Tête de Femme, Dora Maar en bronze de 1941 jamais paru sur le marché. Dora Maar, compagne et muse de l´artiste, est devenue la femme la plus convoitée de l´art moderne depuis l´enchère de 26 millions de dollars enregistrée chez Sotheby´s.
Pour la première fois, une sculpture de Picasso partait pour plus de 10 millions de dollars et déclassait celui qui fut son complice et son rival, Henri MATISSE. En effet, avant les vacations de l´automne dernier, Matisse culminait à 12,75 millions de dollars avec La serpentine - La femme à la Stèle - L'araignée adjugée chez Sotheby´s NY en mai 2000.

Outre Matisse, Constantin BRANCUSI et Alberto GIACOMETTI peuvent détrôner un jour la Dora Maar de Picasso.
Le palmarès de Giacometti est impressionnant : il collectionne 64 adjudications millionnaires dont quatre se comptent en dizaine de millions, mais n´a jamais franchi le cap des 20 millions de dollars. Il culmine à 16,5 millions de dollars, pour son Homme qui chavire, un bronze dont il existe six épreuves (Christie´s NY, mai 2007).

Constantin Brancusi par contre, a décroché plus de 20 millions de dollars pour un Oiseau dans l'espace en marbre estimé entre 8 millions et 12 millions de dollars qui s´envolait à 24,5 millions de dollars en mai 2005 (Christie´s NY). L´œuvre réunissait deux qualités indispensables pour pulvériser sa fourchette d´estimation : elle est emblématique de son travail, puisque l´artiste s´est consacré au thème de l´oiseau pendant plus de quarante ans, et elle est unique face au nombreuses variantes en bronze qu´on lui connaît.

Le critère de rareté est en effet primordial dans le domaine de la sculpture et les œuvres uniques très disputées : chez Amedeo MODIGLIANI par exemple, une Tête de femme en pierre s´arrachait à 1,3 millions de livres sterling l´hiver dernier (2,55 millions de dollars, Sotheby's, fev. 2007) tandis que la majorité de ses bronzes, tirés à plusieurs exemplaires, sont accessibles entre 30 000 et 80 000 dollars.

Face à ces avalanches millionnaires, on retrouve des artistes sous influence cubiste comme Henri LAURENS, Julio GONZALEZ, Alexander ARCHIPENKO et Jacques LIPCHITZ dont la cote est plus mesurée et les records oscillent entre 1 million et 3 millions de dollars.
Les enchères plus modérées de ces artistes ne passent pas sous silence la progression exceptionnelle de Julio Gonzalez, dont Picasso admirait l´inventivité des sculptures en fer : son indice des prix est en hausse de près de 350% sur les dix dernières années.

Un autre adepte du métal, Pablo GARGALLO n´a jamais atteint le million mais a signé son record en octobre dernier lors de la dispersion de la collection Alice Tériade à Paris (Arcurial). Annoncé en couverture de catalogue, le Masque d'Arlequin souriant III est une pièce unique qui doublait son estimation optimiste pour partir à 400 000 euros (plus de 570 000 dollars). Avant ce coup de marteau, ses plus belles enchères naviguaient entre 100 000 et 200 000 euros.

En-deça de 10 000 dollars, l´amateur peut jeter son dévolu sur un Relief No.1Henry MOORE d´à peine 13 cm, acquis pour 7 500 dollars en mai dernier (William Doyle, NY) ; de petits bronzes de Jacques LIPCHITZ ou encore des pièces de Salvador DALI, fondues du vivant de l´artiste et tirées de 350 à 1 000 exemplaires.
Des formats modestes, des œuvres de jeunesse, des éditions très larges ou des fontes tardives sont autant de critères qui font chuter les prix.

Pablo Gargallo par exemple, est âgé de 22 ans lorsqu´il sculpte dans l´albâtre une Figura femenina. L´œuvre, loin de la maturité des créations plus tardives, était accessible pour 3 000 euros seulement en décembre 2006 (Ansorena, Madrid).




Françoise Gilot, "Compositions, 1980-2005," Oct. 18-Dec. 1, 2007, at the New York Studio School, 8 West 8th Street, New York, N.Y. 10011

The straightforward reward, the simple satisfactions of a modest, discrete exhibition of radiant abstract paintings is probably the antithesis of the contemporary art world’s current appetite for excess and overkill, the fever of Art Basel Miami, the VIP soirées of "auction week," Damien Hirst at the Lever House. Much as those things are highly enjoyable, and they are, of course they are, one needs a balance, one requires a very basic white room with just eight canvases to remind oneself what art can also be, has to be, otherwise it will be subsumed by the static of social activity, noise of prices and parties.

And so at the New York Studio School on West 8th Street, to merely enter the show by Françoise Gilot grants an immediate jolt of energy, a reassuring sense of the order of the world, the possibilities of its patterns and their harmonious resolution. The works on display were relatively large and recent, "Compositions" from 1980-2005, and were ideally installed by Louise Tolliver Deutschman, hung sparsely, no more than two together, while echoing and complementing each other, the visitor in the midst of this call-and-response as if happily between quadraphonic speakers.

A dialogue is at play in such a hanging, and one might even be lured toward that hoariest of all old abstract art analogies, the musical motif. If painters instinctively hate the "pattern" word, with its connotations of the decorative, they are also resistant to the notion that the shapes and forms they deploy must be analogous to anything at all. Why must these entirely independent visual elements, a geometry that comes from the solitary imagination alone, always be likened and compared to extraneous matter -- whether to soi-disant "classical" compositions or modernist atonality -- to any sort of music, to nature or indeed to traces of recognizable figuration? Why, to pose the fundamental tautological problem that even this piece of prose embodies, does every human attempt to create something autonomous, truly exclusively personal, genuinely "abstract" in the widest sense, have to be roped back, confined if not hog-tied by the net of our language itself?

Still, hunting such crass correspondences one might suggest that these paintings, with their circles and spheres accosted or interpenetrated by arrow-like, dynamic bolts and bold lines-of-force, the sense of an attack or lure between the ovals and the triangles, have a fundamental if unconscious "structure" (perhaps in the psychoanalytic sense) akin to female and male. In On the Way the masculine forces, the straight lines, the triangular "wedge" worthy almost of El Lissitzky’s martial abstractions, attack or probe the central broken oblong from every direction, while April Sunshine and The Tree of Life surely suggest the womb and seeds. Mapping the body upon the canvas it is easy to sense those central spheres as germinal by their placement, both under threat and in harmony with the dynamic lines that converge upon them, the painting Blue Sky proffering an analogical cotyledon. The identification of the female with the circular is perhaps furthered by Gilot’s distinctive signature device, a marvelous graphic logo that while recalling Henri Toulouse-Lautrec’s own monogram also implies its author is both self-contained and well-rounded.

The attraction of these paintings is in their perfection of scale in relation to their composition and luscious tactile tones. A beautiful blue is recognizable as the azure of Nicolas Poussin, while on close inspection the flat matte surface offers an entirely elegant if not edible treat. These paintings are so well-scaled and well-made, so self-sustaining in their proportions and balance, even their simple, excellent frames adding to their surety, that they seem almost effortless. Only the example of the one "failed" painting here demonstrates just how difficult it was to get it so right in all the others.

For in Cosmic Night the combination of clunky format, a square as opposed to the other rectangles, an uncertain, unresolved composition, and a plain mean color-scheme -- two shades of brown equally unappealing (with an odd amount of craquelure for a work only three years old) -- all add up to an instructive error that outlines all the elements Gilot has elsewhere mastered, and explains the exact dynamics of her successes, just as the notably different colors in the reproductions in the exhibition catalogue make the reality of her actual painting palette all the more enjoyable. The perfect pitch, the pure puissance and proud purpose of these powerful paintings, are all more than enough to not have to even mention the usual PP that seems always obliged to top-or-tail any writing about Françoise Gilot.

Piet Mondrian. Depiction to Picture - Comprehensive Exhibition Opens at Museum Ludwig

Piet Mondrian. Depiction to Picture - Comprehensive Exhibition Opens at Museum Ludwig


Piet Mondrian, Komposition mit großer roter Fläche, Gelb, Schwarz, Grau und Blau, 1921 © Mondrian/Holtzman Trust, c/o HCR International, Warrenton VA USA.

COLOGNE, GERMANY.- Museum Ludwig presents a truly comprehensive Mondrian exhibition that charts his artistic developments right from his first paintings to the abstracts of his later years, on view through March 30, 2008. Above all, Piet Mondrian’s Neoplastic paintings number among the unmistakable icons of classical modernism. Even when we have no concrete knowledge of the artist as a person, or of his work, the sight of these black and white rectangular compositions filled with the primary colours red, yellow and blue is nevertheless imprinted on our collective aesthetic consciousness - in a way that goes far beyond art. This is in no small part due to the constant use made of them by advertising.

Yet this abstract imagery was the outcome of a complex development that is far less known to the general public, and that came about under the influence of a diverse medley of artistic approaches at the turn of the 20th century. The exhibition in Cologne will follow Mondrian’s progress from his early work in the Impressionist and Cubist styles, to the founding of De Stijl in 1917 (together with Theo van Doesburg), to his renowned Neoplasticism.
For this, one of the world’s largest and foremost Mondrian collections will be coming from the Gemeentemuseum in The Hague to Cologne.
Museum Ludwig, which is home to the world’s third-largest Picasso collection, will return the favour and send its celebrated collection to the Gemeentemuseum, so that a large survey exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s works can be mounted at the same time in The Hague.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sotheby's Sells JMW Turner's Watercolour, Bamborough Castle For GBP 2.9 Million

Sotheby's Sells JMW Turner's Watercolour, Bamborough Castle For GBP 2.9 Million


J.M.W. Turner, Bamborough Castle, watercolour, estimate: £1.5–2.5 million. © Sotheby's Images.

LONDON.-Sotheby’s Evening sale of Old Master Paintings tonight shattered all expectations, doubling its low estimate of £16.1 million and realising a total £32,802,400 ($67,399,091). Over 60% of the lots sold achieved prices in excess of their pre-sale estimates, with 9 lots selling for more than a £1 million, and 13 lots for more than $1 million. 12 new artist’s records were established.

Discussing the sale, Alex Bell, Co-Chairman of Sotheby’s Old Master Paintings Worldwide, said: “Tonight’s fantastic result shows the great strength that exists across the board in the market for Old Master Paintings. There was depth of bidding from private collectors and dealers from Europe, the United States and even further afield. We were very pleased with the vigorous competition for quality works across a range of categories, and indeed for the best things the market is as robust as I have ever seen it.”

The highest price of the evening was for a remarkable pair of oils (lot 75) by Canaletto depicting two of the most famous views in Venice; the entrance to the Grand Canal and the Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo. Most probably painted during Canaletto’s stay in England (1746-1755), the two works made £4,724,500 (est: £1.5-2 million).

Close behind the Canaletto paintings was a small-scale portrait by Frans Hals (lot 29), which made £4,668,500 against a pre-sale estimate of £800,000-1,200,000. For much of the 20th century, this dynamic rendering of one of Hals’ close friends was in the collection of the Canadian railway magnate Sir William Horne; it is one of only 7 paintings by Hals to have been sold at auction in the last 20 years.

Joseph Mallord William Turner’s watercolour, Bamborough Castle, also performed well this evening, selling for £2,932,500, against a pre-sale estimate of £1.5-2.5 million. It was purchased by a US private collector who was bidding on the telephone. Tonight’s result ranks Bamborough Castle among the most important of Turner’s works ever sold at auction. Dating from the mid 1830s, Turner’s Bamborough Castle has spent most of its life to date in a distinguished private collection and had not been seen on the open market since 1872.

Recently discovered in an attic in Germany, a previously unrecorded work by Rembrandt’s celebrated pupil Ferdinand Bol (lot 27) soared above its £60,000-80,000 estimate, selling for £1,364,500 and establishing a new auction record for the artist. An early work, painted in the early 1640s, The Angel appearing to Elijah had been in the same family’s collection since the early 18th century and had never before been seen in public.

A newly reattributed work by one of the rarest of Holland’s great still life painters, Jan Jansz. Den Uyl the Elder, made £1,812,500 (est: £1,000,000 – 1,500,000), establishing an new auction record for the artist. No comparable work by the artist has appeared at auction for almost 20 years. Many other works in the sale achieved prices well in excess of their pre-sale estimates: a rare work by Siennese artist Domenico Beccafumi showing the Holy Family (lot 55) made £1,140,500, over four times its low estimate of £250,000; Festoon of Fruit and Flowers in a Marble Niche by Jan Davidsz de Heeem (lot 38), made £1,140,500 – almost four times its low estimate of £300,000; and lot 48, a 15th-century triptych by the Master of the Legend of Saint Barbara, made double its estimate, selling for £1,140,500.

The sale included 15 works from a distinguished Swedish collection, put together in the 18th century by nobleman Gustaf Adolf Sparre (1746-1794). Prior to tonight’s sale, most of the works in the Sparre collection had not been seen on the market since the 1770s. Their freshness to the market, together with their quality, attracted strong competition: together the works from the collection made a combined total of £3,134,100 against an estimate of £1,930,000 - £2,750,000. Among the highlights in the Sparre collection was a re-discovered grisaille oil sketch (lot 6) by Anthony van Dyck showing The Crucified Christ adored by Saints Dominic and Catherine of Siena . Estimated at £300,000-400,000, it made £558,100.

Alongside the Sparre collection was that of Greek financier Dimitri Mavrommatis. Together, the works from this collection – which included the Canaletto paintings - made a combined total of £8,007,600 against a low estimate of £3,290,000. A remarkable pair of paintings by Vanvitelli (lot 74) also performed well. Previously unpublished, and in the same family’s ownership since the end of the 18th century, the two works made £1,924,500 (est: £1-1.5 million).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Sotheby´s invite Bacon à Paris

Sotheby´s invite Bacon à Paris


Après la réforme des ventes publiques de 2001, nombre de commissaires-priseurs ont craint de se retrouver relégués loin derrière les auctioneers. Face à cela, certains se sont même regroupés à l´image de Artcurial - Briest-Le Fur-Poulain-F.Tajan, pour mieux tenir tête à Sotheby´s et Christie´s. Jusqu´à présent, les maisons anglo-saxonnes ont eu tendance à sagement envisager le marché français plus comme un grenier destiné à l´exportation que comme une place de vente.

De ce fait, les ventes prestigieuses dignes de New-York et Londres ne sont pas encore fréquentes à Paris. Cette irrégularité a permis à Artcurial - Briest-Le Fur-Poulain-F.Tajan et Tajan de tenir en 2006, les deuxième et troisième places en terme de produit des ventes françaises de Fine Art, derrière Christie´s, mais devant Sotheby´s, placé cinquième. Sotheby´s affichait alors un chiffre d´affaires de 15,2 millions d´euros. Cette année, la maison de vente, avec aux commandes depuis septembre Guillaume Cerutti, affiche d´autres prétentions ! Le 12 décembre elle programme une vente prestigieuse d´art contemporain, avec en lot phare une importante toile de Bacon. Le lendemain, Christie´s suit la cadence autour d´une vente sur le même thème, et à l´affiche une œuvre de Joan Mitchell, intitulée « Mandres », présentée pour 1,8 – 2,5 millions d´euros.

Fait rarissime, Seated Woman, l´œuvre de Francis Bacon proposée le 12 décembre par Sotheby´s pour 7,5-10 millions de dollars, est une pièce importée. Pour en assurer une parfaite médiatisation à l´international, la peinture a fait l´objet de tout le savoir faire Sotheby´s en matière de communication. La maison de vente possède par ailleurs le fichier clients idéal. En effet, le 14 novembre dernier, elle a dispersé «Second Version of Study for Bullfight No.1» de Francis Bacon pour 41 millions de dollars, établissant un nouveau record de l´artiste. Enfin, le pape de l´Ecole de Londres bénéfice d´un premier résultat millionnaire à Paris, sous le marteau de Christie´s cette fois ; en mai 2007, l´auctioneer a adjugé 6,1 millions d´euros Figure on a Dais, une toile 1958-1959, estimée 3,5 – 4,5 millions de dollars. Francis Bacon sera sans conteste l´artiste de l´année dans les enchères parisiennes, mais grâce au marteau des auctioneers..,

Il est désormais évident que face au marketing et au savoir faire des poids lourds anglo-saxons, le Syndicat National des Maisons de Ventes Volontaires, présidé par Hervé Chayette et ayant pour objet la promotion des ventes aux enchères en France, aura quelques difficultés à soutenir une SVV historiquement française sur l´une des trois premières marches cette année. En dehors de Cornette de Saint-Cyr, dont les ventes d´art contemporain et d´après-guerre, notamment autour de la dispersion de la collection Delon, ont connu un vif succès, peu de candidats semblent encore pouvoir concurrencer le trio Christie´s, Sotheby´s et Artcurial.

"Late Titian and the Sensuality of Painting" On View at the Kunsthistorisches Museum

"Late Titian and the Sensuality of Painting" On View at the Kunsthistorisches Museum


Titian, Danae, 1550 - 1553. © Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid.

VIENNA.-Following the exhibition “Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and the Renaissance of Venetian Painting” - organised by the Kunsthistorisches Museum last year in collaboration with the National Gallery in Washington - we now present an exhibition dedicated to Titan’s late works. “Late Titian and the Sensuality of Painting” is on view, and will be on show in Venice (Gallerie dell’Accademia) from February 1 till April 21, 2008.

The exhibition, the result of extensive research, scholarship and planning, brings together about sixty paintings, among them more than thirty loans. It focuses on a wide range of topics ranging from the fertile cultural conditions found in Venice during the third quarter of the 16th century to Titian’s patrons and colleagues (especially Sciavone, Tintoretto and Jacopo Bassano) to the figure of the artist himself. The main focus is on the last twenty-five years of Titian’s creative life, which will be viewed against the background of the master’s family circumstances, questions of inheritance, and the role of his studio assistants. In addition, the exhibition includes around fifteen sixteenth-century graphic works from the Albertina that document the overwhelming popularity of Titian’s compositions, and illustrate how his inventions were translated into a simpler pictorial language that appealed to a wider public.

Titian’s late manner with its increasingly free handling – characterised by everything from visible brushstrokes to “patchiness” (pittura di macchie) - surprised, irritated and enraged not only some of his contemporaries such as patrons, men of letters and writers on art theory, but also many modern visitors. Only recently has Titian’s late manner - which may vary greatly within a single painting - been recognised as a highly effective way of increasing the drama of the composition. The sensuality of Titian’s brushstrokes reaches a high-point in his erotic-poetic compositions in which the master focuses on the beauty of the female nude. Over the years, however, his manner becomes increasingly loaded with a spiritual expressiveness and a mysticism of suffering that allow us to imagine the aged artist’s visions of death.

The following are some of the remaining central questions surrounding Titian’s late works - characterised as they are by their powerful expressiveness and a remarkable philosophical content, appearing almost monochrome despite their varied palette: do these works reflect Titian’s artistic vision, or are they nothing more than unfinished pictures? And how much in Titian’s late paintings is by his own hand? Extensive technical and scientific research carried out on many of his paintings has helped us to understand better his creative process and the role played by his assistants. With the help of a grant from the Fond zur Förderung der wissenschaftlichen Forschung (FWF – Fund for the Support of Scientific Research) we were able to analyse his paintings now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum - with surprising results.

In preparation for this exhibition, the Kunsthistorisches Museum undertook the highly complex and difficult restoration of one of Titian’s most important late works, his Nymph and Shepherd. In addition, several other seminal late works are included in the exhibition: Tarquin and Lucretia from Cambridge/England (this version will be juxtaposed with two other versions of the same subject), his celebrated Flaying of Marsyas from Kroměříž, the Saint Sebastian from the Hermitage in Saint Petersburg, Boy with Dogs from Rotterdam, two versions of Danae (one from Vienna, the other from Madrid), as well as three versions of depictions of Venus from Washington, Rome and New York, respectively.

Examples of Titian’s consummate skill as a portrait painter are some recently restored works, foremost of them his celebrated Self-Portrait now in the Prado, and the Girl with a Fan from Dresden. Religious painting is represented by several versions of Saint Mary Magdalene, Saint Jerome, and the Ecce Homo. In addition, there is the Annunciation from the church of San Salvador in Venice and the Crucifixion from the Sacristy in the Escorial, the latter especially cleaned for this exhibition.

The exhibition aims to throw new light on the evolution of Titian’s style, on his technique and on his almost alchemistic handling of materials, all of which helped him to capture the charms of the world as he experienced them in a highly sensual way. The exhibition’s main focus, however, is on Titian’s works, as paintings touch our hearts even stronger than the stories they depict.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

L´art moderne Suisse

L´art moderne Suisse


Outre l´attrait de leurs œuvres à l´international, Giacometti, Hodler et Paul Klee, les trois artistes suisses les plus coté du marché, s´imposent d´abord sur leur territoire.

Dopé aux enchères millionnaires (64 au total), Alberto Giacometti est le plus international: il doit 90% de son produit des ventes aux pays anglo-saxons… tandis que Suisse et France se disputent le reste. Des restes alléchants tout de même puisque ses œuvres vendues entre 2000 et 2006 dégagèrent pas moins de 154 millions d´euros de produit des ventes! Le marché de Paul Klee trouve aussi un écho international très favorable, notamment en Allemagne et en Suisse ou 40% des œuvres sont échangées. C´est le marché anglo-saxon cependant qui présente les plus belles pièces: pas une enchère millionnaire n´a été signée en-dehors de Londres et New-York.

Les auctioneers anglo-saxons installés en Suisse ont choisi Zurich pour centre névralgique : les pièces maîtresses de Hodler, Anker ou Vallotton y transitent et atteignent des sommets. Les collectionneurs se disputent âprement les toiles de l´époque Nabis de Félix Vallotton alors qu´il travaillait auprès de Vuillard, Bonnard et Sérusier. Une scène de plage aux formes synthétiques et aux aplats colorés typiques de cette période détient depuis 7 ans son enchère record à 2,5 millions de francs suisses (1,38 millions de dollars, Christie's, Zurich). Pour autant, les prix de la moitié de ses œuvres soumises à enchères, des dessins surtout, sont raisonnablement accessibles pour moins de 3 000 dollars.

Après Böcklin et avant Vallotton, Ferdinand Hodler incarne le renouveau de la peinture suisse à travers 2 200 œuvres répertoriées. En octobre dernier, tandis que le Musée d´Orsay de Paris préparait la rétrospective Hodler (ouverte du 13 nov. 2007 au 3 fév. 2008), Sotheby´s dévoilait un chef-d´œuvre de l´artiste réalisé en 1916 et resté en main privée depuis.

La toile, intitulée Les Dents-du Midi était promise à un nouveau record censé déclasser le Léman vu de Saint-Prex adjugé 9,7 millions de francs suisses en juin dernier (près de 7,9 millions de dollars, Der Genfersee von Saint-Prex aus). Malgré une abondante médiatisation, elle n´a pas trouvé d´acquéreur le 27 novembre à Zurich. Les enchérisseurs ne s´aventurèrent pas à 5 millions alors qu´on en espérait plus de 10 millions de francs suisses…
Le même jour, les amateurs de modernité suisse dopèrent les œuvres d´Albert Anker, notamment un portrait de jeune fille qui tripla son estimation haute pour un nouveau record à 1,1 million de francs suisses (près de 1 millions de dollars). Trois ans auparavant, un portrait de qualité similaire était accessible au cinquième de ce montant (220 000 francs suisses, Bildnis eines Mädchens, Koller Zurich).

Ces succès sont bénéfiques pour des artistes plus confidentiels qui dérochent de plus en plus promptement des enchères à plus de 100 000 dollars à Zurich. Par exemple, les suisses Ernest Bieler et Alice Bailly cumulent une vingtaine d´adjudications supérieures à ce seuil en 7 ans : la moitié furent signées en 2007 !

Parmi les autres piliers de l´art moderne venu de Suisse, le marché de Sophie Taeuber-Arp est particulièrement contracté. Pas une peinture de l´artiste ne fut présentée en salle de vente depuis 2004. La dernière, une abstraction géométrique intitulée Six espaces distincts, fut vendue 165 000 euros… en Finlande (chez Hagelstam). Un an plus tôt, Calmels-Cohen

Christie's Makes History in Asia Surpassing Hk$2 Billion

Christie's Makes History in Asia Surpassing Hk$2 Billion


Cai Guo-Qiang, born in 1957, Set of Fourteen Drawings for Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation. Purchase Price: HK$ 74,247,500 (US$ 9,548,229). © Christie's Images Ltd. 2007.

HONG KONG.- Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, concluded five days of record-breaking sales with the most significant and strongest series of sales ever held in Asia, totaling HK$2,106,117,250 (US$ 270,425,455/£ 130,158,046/€ 182,389,754). This is the highest ever achieved in a sales season in Asia and is a 28% increase over Christie’s record-breaking Autumn 2006 sales (HK$1.64 billion/US$211 million/£101.5 million/€ 143 million). Selling to rooms consistently packed with international buyers and online and phone bidders, Christie’s sale has firmly established Hong Kong as one of the most important auction centers in the world and underscores Christie’s market-leading position. Together with its 2007 Spring sales which realized HK$1.52 billion in Hong Kong, the Autumn sale concludes a record year for Christie’s Hong Kong with an annual sales of HK$3.62 billion (US$466 million/£ 224 million /€ 314 million), the highest annual sales total ever set by any auction house in Asia.

Edward Dolman, Chief Executive Officer of Christie’s International, said, “Surpassing the HK$2 billion mark is a major milestone. The tremendous success of this sale series once again demonstrates Christie’s leadership in Asia and underscores Hong Kong’s position as a significant center for the art market alongside New York and London. Asia is extremely important to Christie’s, and we will continue to raise the bar in this region.”

The sales saw buyers from around the world participating on the phone, in the room and online through Christie’s LIVE. Participation from Asia was 83% (of which 69% were from Greater China), with others coming from the Americas at 7%, Europe at 9%, and other regions including the Middle East, at 1%.

Christie’s Leads ASIAN Contemporary, Chinese 20th Century & Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art

The opening sale of Modern & Contemporary Southeast Asian Art totaled a record HK$64,329,000 (US$ 8,272,709 /£4,014,130/ € 5,577,324) - the largest sale ever in the category. These strong results give Christie’s 53% market share in this category, showing a growth of 25% against Christie’s Spring 2007 sale and 59% against Christie’s Autumn 2006 results. The sale set a high standard for the entire Autumn sales series and was 96% sold by lot, 99% sold by value. Records fell and works, especially in the vibrant contemporary section, achieved multiples of their estimates. The top selling lot, was Rudolf Bonnet's Market Scene which sold for HK$11,527,500 (US$1,482,437 /£719,316 /€ 999,434) - a new auction record for the artist.

Christie’s astonishing sales of Asian Contemporary Art and Chinese Twentieth Century Art significantly outpaced all previous sales for these genres across the world. The combined sales total for both categories amounted to HK$777,657,750 (US$100,006,787 /£48,525,927/ €67,422,927), a 28% increase above Christie’s Spring 2007 season and 49% above last Autumn, giving Christie’s a 70% market share in Hong Kong in this category.

The sale of Chinese 20th Century Art totaled HK$310,479,250 (US$39,927,632 / £19,373,905 / €26,918,551) and was 86% sold by lot, 92% sold by value. The top lot was Chen Chen-Po’s Sunset at Danshui which was sold to an Asian private collector for HK$50,727,500 (US$ 6,523,557 / £ 3,165,396 / € 4,398,074), breaking the world auction record for the artist.

A marathon sale of Asian Contemporary Art set the new benchmark for the category with a record total of HK$467,178,500 (US$60,079,155/£29,151,938 /€40,504,376) with a tremendous 96% works sold by lot, 99% sold by value. Comprising iconic and cutting edge works of Chinese, Indian, Japanese and Korean contemporary art, records tumbled in every category and in works from every country. The top selling lot in the Asian Contemporary sales was Cai Guo-Qiang's Set of Fourteen Drawings for Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation, which sold to an anonymous collector for HK$74,247,500 (US$9,548,229/ £4,633,044/ €6,437,258) - a world auction record for Chinese Contemporary Art.

Highest value for contemporary Indian & Pakistani art in Hong Kong

The Asian Contemporary Art sale also brought tremendous results in the growing category of Indian and Pakistani Contemporary Art with a total of HK$ 30,373,250 (US$ 3,906,000) for 22 works – the highest value ever achieved in Hong Kong.

Classical collecting categories continue to grow

The sale of Chinese Classical Paintings and Calligraphy proved that that market is robust, with the highest ever sold total for the category at HK$151,228,750 (US$19,448,017 / £9,421,551 / €13,111,533), a remarkable growth of 144% over Christie’s May 2007 sale and 244% compared with Autumn 2006, with 77% of the lots sold. Dong Qichang’s Paintings and Calligraphy broke the world auction record for the artist at HK$48,487,500 (US$6,235,493/ £3,020,771/ €4,203,866), over four times the pre-sale estimate. The sale total for Modern Chinese Paintings was HK$130,893,000 (US$16,832,840 /£8,154,634 / €11,348,423) with 83% lots sold. Works by the artist Zhang Daqian in particular proved to be in high demand - Lot 1266 Landscape in Splashed-colour sold for more than twice the estimate at HK$9,959,500 (US$1,280,792 / £620,477 / €863,489), while Lot 1068 Secluded Valley sold for more than three times the estimate at HK$7,047,500 (US$906,309 /£439,059 / €611,018).

Important Chinese Jades from the Personal Collection of Alan and Simone Hartman Part II sold for HK$197,649,250 (US$25,397,929 /£12,274,018 /€17,076,895), making it the most successful jade auction ever held. This sale marked a triumphant conclusion to the two-part series of sale of the Hartman’s renowned collection and brought the total to HK$313,701,249 (US$40,310,610). The top lot of the sale was an exquisite white jade cylindrical brushpot of the Qianlong period (1736-1795) which sold for HK$54,087,500 (US$6,950,244 /£ 3,358,834 / €4,673,160) - over five times its low estimate and setting a world record for a white jade carving.

Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art totaled HK$299,978,250 (US$38,547,205 /£18,628,649 / €25,918,121). The sale set several important world records, with many of the star lots coming from the first section of the sale, Reflections: Chinese Art Inspired by the West, which presented collectors with fifteen unparalleled ceramics and works of art that illustrate the Chinese court’s fascination with Western themes in the Ming and Qing dynasties. The top lot of the day was one of the highlights in this special collection, a magnificent Imperial Beijing enamel glass brushpot, Qianlong mark and of the period (1736-1785), which drew tremendous attention from collectors and enthusiasts from around the world. It established a world record price for Chinese glass at HK$ 67,527,500 (US$8,677,284 / £4,193,458 / €5,834,376). The combined total sales for works of art amounted to HK$497,627,500 (US$63,945,134 / £30,902,667/ € 42,995,106), an increase of 70% over last season’s total.

The Rothschild Fabergé Egg Sells for $18.5M

The Rothschild Fabergé Egg Sells for $18.5M


Lot 55 - The Rothschild Fabergé Egg. Estimate: £6 million to £9 million ($12 to $18 million) Sold: £8,980,500 /$18,499,830/€12,509,837. World record price for a Russian art object at auction (not including paintings). World record for a Fabergé work of art. World record price for any timepiece (clock or watch) at auction. © Christie's Images Limited.

LONDON.-The Rothschild Fabergé Egg sold at Christie’s for £8,980,500 / $18,499,830 / €12,509,837, a world record price for a Russian object (not including paintings) at auction, for a work of art by Fabergé at auction, and for any timepiece (clock or watch) at auction. An exciting rediscovery and an addition to no more than 12 recognised examples known to have been made to Imperial standards for anyone other than the Russian Imperial Family, this exceptional work of craftsmanship had never before been seen in public and was exhibited by Christie’s in London, Moscow, Paris, Geneva and New York leading up to the sale. Today it was subject to a tense 10 minute bidding battle in a busy saleroom before selling to a private Russian client in the saleroom.

The Rothschild Fabergé Egg is the highlight of Russian Art Week, a series of auctions dedicated to Russian Pictures, Works of Art, Books, Manuscripts and Icons which is taking place at Christie’s in London from 26 to 30 November 2007.

Anthony Phillips, International Director of Silver and Russian Works of Art at Christie’s: “This is one of the most exciting moments of my 40 years at Christie’s. The Rothschild Fabergé Egg presents all the elements of a true masterpiece; the quality of the craftsmanship, combined with its exceptional condition, rarity, provenance, and the fact that it is the only example to have remained in the ownership of the family for whom it was commissioned, all combine to make this a truly magnificent work of art. It has been incredibly exciting to have been involved with the sale of what is surely one of the very best of Faberge's greatest creations and it has been wonderful to be able to exhibit this extraordinary Faberge Egg, and to see the enormous public interest in this truly great decorative work of art.”

Alexis de Tiesenhausen, International Head of Russian Art at Christie’s: “The Rothschild Fabergé Egg is an extraordinary work of art, and we are extremely pleased that it has realised a record price which reflects its absolute quality. In the last two months, we have exhibited the Egg in London, Moscow, Paris, Geneva and New York, and many thousands of people have flocked to Christie’s to see and appreciate its magnificence for themselves. During the past few days at Christie’s Russian Art Week in London, the Rothschild Egg has been admired by international collectors from Europe, Russia and the United States, and we are thrilled that it has presented superlative Russian craftsmanship to the collecting community, attracting even more international interest and admiration for the Russian art category as a whole.”

The Rothschild Fabergé Egg is the only example of Imperial standards to have remained in the same family ownership since its commission. It was a gift from Beatrice Ephrussi (1864-1934) (neé de Rothschild) to Germaine Halphen (1884-1975) on the occasion of the latter’s engagement to Beatrice’s younger brother, Baron Edouard de Rothschild (1868-1949). They married in 1905 and it has remained in the family ever since. Beatrice’s husband Maurice Ephrussi (1849-1916) was born in Odessa, Russia, and worked for the Rothschild family’s oil interests in Baku. He went on to become a banker, helping to establish the Ephrussi Bank in Paris. It is possible that Maurice ordered the egg whilst in St. Petersburg, or during one of Fabergé’s selling trips to Paris at the turn of the 20th century.

The Rothschild Fabergé Egg is a superlative masterpiece by a master-craftsman. Exceptionally large with brilliantly chased vari-coloured gold work and enamelled in Fabergé’s most exciting and lively colour – a lovely translucent pink – its face is a clock and it contains an automaton cockerel. Every hour, the diamond-set cockerel pops up from inside the egg, flaps his wings four times and then nods his head three times while opening and shutting his beak and crowing. Each performance lasts approximately 15 seconds, before the clock strikes the hour on a bell. The egg is hallmarked under the enamel by Fabergé’s leading workmaster, Michael Perchin, and is further signed and dated, K. Fabergé, 1902. This is one of only three known examples with both a clock and an automaton, the others being the Imperial Cockerel Egg of 1900 and the Chanticleer Egg of 1904.

In 1885 Tsar Alexander III commissioned an Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Maria Fedorovna. The Tsar asked Peter Carl Fabergé, a craftsman whose work was admired by the Empress, to create an object of spectacular beauty. Fabergé concentrated all his efforts on a creation which would impress the Imperial family and on the morning of Easter day in 1885, he delivered a spectacular enamelled egg with a golden yoke, inside of which was a golden hen, inside of which was a miniature crown of diamonds and a ruby egg. The Tsar and Empress were so taken by the gift that he instructed Fabergé to make a unique egg for his wife every Easter day, insisting that each must contain a surprise befitting of an Empress. The Tsar died unexpectantly in 1894 and was succeeded by his son, Nicholas II, who continued the tradition, ensuring that both his wife and his mother received an annual gift of a Fabergé egg every Easter. The tradition lasted until 1917 when the Tsar abdicated among civil unrest and was taken hostage with his family, all of whom were executed on 17 July 1918. In total, 50 eggs were made and delivered to the Imperial Family but not all survive.

There are no more than 12 recognised examples which are known to have been created to Imperial standards for private clients, to which the Rothschild Fabergé Egg is an exciting addition. The most renowned are those commissioned by the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, Emmanuel Nobel, seven eggs made for the industrialist Alexander Kelkh and his wife, who took delivery of an egg every year from 1898 and 1904, and an example commissioned by Prince Felix Feliksovich Iusupov, who was married to the Czar’s niece and assassinated Rasputin.

Fabergé is synonymous with luxury and superlative craftsmanship and the Fabergé Egg remains the rarest, most impressive and most desirable of all his creations. The Rothschild Fabergé Egg is a wonderful and exciting addition to Fabergé’s finest masterpiece.