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Sotheby's announces highlights from its May Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art
Gustave Caillebotte, La Rue Halévy, Vue Du Sixième Étage. Signed G. Caillebotte and dated 1878 (lower left). Oil on canvas, 23 1/2 by 28 3/4 in. 59.5 by 73 cm. Painted in 1878. Estimate: $6/8 million. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s unveiled highlights from their Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art on 14 May in New York. Led by one of the finest examples from Claude Monet’s iconic Haystacks series, the 56 lots on offer will go on public view in Sotheby’s newly-reimagined and expanded York Avenue galleries beginning Friday, 3 May – the first time that the space will be unveiled to the public.

An enduring symbol of Impressionism from Claude Monet’s iconic Haystacks series leads a group of eight Impressionist masterworks on offer in the May Evening Sale from the same important private collection.

Meules from 1890 is one of the most celebrated images in art history and one of only four works from Monet’s acclaimed series to come to auction this century (estimate in excess of $55 million). Of the 25 canvases that the artist created in the early 1890s, Meules is one of only eight examples remaining in private hands. The other 17 examples reside in distinguished museum collections, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, the Musée d’Orsay, Paris and, perhaps most notably, six in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. The radiant canvas is further distinguished by its illustrious provenance, having been acquired by wealthy Chicago socialites and fervent collectors of Impressionist works, Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, directly from the artist’s dealer in the 1890s.

August Uribe, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department in New York, commented: “It is a privilege to present one of Claude Monet’s defining Impressionist paintings in our Evening Sale this May. One of the most recognizable images in art history, Monet’s Haystacks series has long served as an inspiration to countless artists since its creation in the early 1890s and continues to inspire anyone who has viewed one of these canvases first hand. Prior to 2016, a Haystack had not been presented to collectors since Sotheby’s London offered a work from the series in June 2001, nearly 20 years ago. In addition, the seven pictures that round out this collection are exceptional in their own right, and the group as a whole is among the finest assemblages of Impressionist works that we have seen in recent years. Anytime a work, such as Meules, that has been so formative in the canon of art history comes to auction there is a palpable energy that ricochets through the market. It is with this immense enthusiasm that we look forward to presenting this wonderful group to collectors worldwide this May.”

Meules belongs to a group of eight outstanding works by Impressionist masters on offer this May from the same important private collection, including defining examples by Pierre Bonnard, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Paul Signac, Alfred Sisley and Édouard Vuillard. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will significantly benefit two world-renowned, not-for-profit institutions in the fields of science and music. Separate release available

The Evening Sale will offer a strong selection of eight paintings and works on paper by Pablo Picasso, spanning more than six decades of his prolific career from 1906 to 1968. Paintings from the last 20 years of Picasso’s life are increasingly sought after as prime examples of the artist’s fully developed work; the May sale is led by two monumental canvases from the 1960s:

Completed over the course of nearly a month at the end of 1962, Femme au chien is a portrait that depicts Jacqueline Roque enthroned in an armchair and petting Picasso’s Afghan hound, Kaboul (estimate $25/30 million). Roque was Picasso’s beloved second wife who remained with him until his death in 1973, and his renderings of her constitute the largest group of images of any woman in his life. Kaboul is rendered with clear affection and humor, and is a nod to Picasso’s adoration of these creatures – canines of various sorts are present in Picasso’s works throughout his oeuvre: the emaciated figures of his Rose Period; his serial reinterpretations of Velazquez’s Las Meninas; and his dachshund Lump (who he “borrowed” from David Douglas Duncan for many years) along with his Afghan hounds, Kasbek and Kaboul, and his boxer Jan.

Helena Newman, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department, said: “This large-scale masterpiece exemplifies the creative force that Picasso wielded with his brush during the final years of his life. Having remained in the same private collection for almost 30 years, this long-unseen painting ranks among the very best of the artist’s late works to ever appear at auction. Recently married to his beloved Jacqueline and together ensconced in their new home in the South of France, Picasso not only felt reinvigorated when he painted Femme au chien, but also deserving of his self-appointment as the rightful successor to the great Spanish masters, a lineage that includes Zurbarán, Velázquez and Goya.”

In October and November of 1968, Picasso executed a series of large canvases depicting flamboyant, sword-brandishing musketeers, including Mousquetaire à la pipe (estimate $20/30 million). One of the great subjects of the artist's late oeuvre, the musketeer was one of a cast of psychological avatars that were a means of projecting different aspects of his own identity. These portraits of the various archetypes that populated Picasso's personal mythology were part of a late flowering, a final synthesis which merged the artist's personal history with the cultural heritage of the Western artistic tradition, and developed a direct and spontaneous style that celebrated the act of artistic creation. In choosing the iconography shared by Old Master painters such as Rembrandt and Velázquez, Picasso was, at the end of his career, consciously aligning himself with the greatest artists of the Western canon.

Measuring an astounding 20-feet long and 11-feet tall, La Jeunesse de Bacchus (Youth of Bacchus) is the largest and most ambitious work of William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s career (estimate $25/35 million). Marking the first time that a work by the French academic painter will be offered in our marquee Evening Sale of Impressionist & Modern Art, the monumental masterpiece was presented in 1884 after two years of work, and had hung in Bouguereau's studio in Paris ever since, having previously left only three times in its 135-year history. On offer this spring by the direct descendants of the artist, La Jeunesse de Bacchus exemplifies Bouguereau’s extraordinary skill of conveying gesture and movement. With influences borrowed from the Greco-Roman period, classical 17th-century French painting and sculpture, as well as the work of his contemporaries, the sprawling canvas is arranged as a frieze, with 11 life-sized female and male figures parading across the composition. In the shadow on the left, two satyrs try to support Silenus, who teeters precariously atop a donkey, while on the right, two centaurs dance to the sound of a double flute. Their animated movements provide a distant echo of what takes place in the center of the composition, where a group of dancers form a circle around the figure who carries the child Bacchus on his shoulders.

An outstanding selection of works from the Levy Family Collection are led by exemplary paintings by Gustave Caillebotte, Paul Gauguin and Pierre Bonnard.

Painted in 1878, Gustave Caillebotte’s La Rue Halévy, vue du sixième étage is the embodiment of the new Paris that emerged in the middle of the 19th century (estimate $6/8 million). Created as the city underwent a dramatic reconfiguration, this expansive urban view epitomizes the way in which the Impressionists brought the French capital to life, rendered in Caillebotte’s own innovative pictorial style. As one of the most remarkable examples in the series of his urban landscapes, La Rue Halévy, vue du sixième étage portrays the bustling city from an elevated vantage point, with a plunging perspective and clear draughtsmanship, which characterize this radical and daring composition – among the artist’s greatest contributions to Modernism.

Paul Gauguin’s Chemin sous les palmiers epitomizes the artist’s fascination with the exotic and represents an enchanting vision of his life-long interest in depicting the unfamiliar (estimate $6/8 million). Painted in 1887, the vibrant oil is part of a series of works that Gauguin completed on his trip to the Caribbean island of Martinique, where the artist stayed from June until November of that same year, marking the beginning of his extraordinary association with the tropics. Martinique was Gauguin’s initial experience as an artist living within an island environment and foreshadowed the works he would later complete in Tahiti. Enthralled by the tropical landscape and native people who inhabited it, Gauguin’s strong desire for a life outside Europe was born in Martinique and ultimately came to fruition with his departure for Polynesia in 1891.

One of the most remarkable bathing scenes by Pierre Bonnard remaining in private hands, Femme à sa toilette (Le Peignoir) captures the beautifully complex reflection of the artist’s beloved wife and muse, Marthe de Méligny, during an intimate, everyday ritual (estimate $4/6 million). Measuring over 45 inches tall, the canvas depicts the sitter in a private moment just before undressing – unaware of the viewer, her gaze drifts toward her foot while she instinctively holds fast the opening of her robe. Always attuned to his surroundings and the familiar objects within them, Bonnard would increasingly depict interior and bathing scenes in his later years as he and his wife grew progressively more reclusive. By magnifying the scale of the scene, yet retaining the close composition of his earlier Intimist works, Bonnard directs all attention to the figure at center, compressing the room’s depth and conflating its multiple perspectives.

Irvin Levy was a towering leader in Dallas based business and philanthropy circles. Born into a family that thrived in the city’s business environment, he joined his two brothers to transform their company into an international business, NCH Corporation. Irvin’s interest in art was spurred in part by his first wife, Meryl. The couple formed a striking collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, from which a selection are included in the May Evening Sale. The couple not only lived with art, but also involved themselves in the growth of their city’s museum, The Dallas Museum of Art, where Irvin served for 43 years, 12 of which were spent as President or Chairman. After Meryl’s death, Irvin married Joan Schnitzer, and together the couple began to acquire contemporary paintings that not only to complemented their new modernist home in Turtle Creek, but also provided a compelling dialogue when displayed alongside their Impressionist works. Contemporary highlights from the collection, which will be presented across our marquee auctions of Contemporary Art this May, include expressive examples by Willem de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Robert Rauschenberg, Gerhard Richter and Helen Frankenthaler.

New York-based pediatricians Dr. Ruth Morris and Dr. Harry Bakwin spent their free time frequenting galleries and museums, and traversing the continent of Europe in their cultural pursuits. The pair befriended dealers, art historians and art critics including Walter Pach and Ambroise Vollard, who provided guidance and advice as they began collecting. Perhaps more notably, the Drs. Bakwin developed personal relationships with many of the artists whose works they acquired.

Sotheby’s May offering of works from the Bakwin Collection are led by a group of four works that belonged to E.M. “Pete” Bakwin, the eldest Bakwin child and a pioneer of the Chicago banking world. Paul Cézanne’s painterly L’Oncle Dominique en casquette is an exquisite early work from the artist’s first developed portrait series (estimate $2.5/3.5 million). The energy and vigor of the brushstrokes are echoed in Chaïm Soutine’s masterpiece La Femme en rouge (pictured right, estimate $6/8 million) as well as in Georges Rouault’s richly pigmented double-sided Deux prostituées & Filles (estimate $200/300,000). Paul Gauguin’s intoxicating Femme caraïbe pinpoints the moment when the artist came into his own, incorporating elements from faraway lands into a lyrical homage to Vincent van Gogh – with whom he had lived with just a short time prior – set in a field of dancing sunflowers (estimate $4/6 million). Also on offer from the Bakwin Collection is an impressive selection of works by Georges Braque, Kees van Dongen, André Derain and Maurice Utrillo, which will highlight our Impressionist & Modern Art Day Sale on 15 May.

In addition to Meules, the Evening Sale features two works by Claude Monet that have descended through the collection of Raymond Nacenta, former owner of Galerie Charpentier in Paris, since they were acquired in 1942. The idyllic agrarian subject matter of both Prairie, ciel nuageux from 1890 (pictured left, estimate $6/8 million) and La Prairie fleurie from 1885 (estimate $4/6 million) encapsulates the central focus of Monet’s career towards the end of the 19th century, when he divorced himself from painting urban scenes and the banlieue of Paris, and devoted himself fully to his beloved countryside. Having initially moved his large family to the rural hamlet of Giverny in the spring of 1883, the artist found a renewing retreat where he could dedicate himself to his explorations of the natural world. These vibrant landscapes exemplify the artist’s lifelong commitment to painting en plein air, and the constant exploration of the effects of weather conditions and light on the setting.

Painted in 1941 at Champrovent, Haute-Savoie, Balthus’ Étude pour “Le Salon” encapsulates the recurrent themes of adolescence and nonchalance depicted throughout his oeuvre (estimate $2.5/3.5 million). The present work is a study for two monumental canvasses of the same subject, both titled Le Salon. The artist’s study and its related versions were inspired by his friend Pierre Leyris’ farmhouse at Champrovent, where Balthus and his wife stayed between 1940-42 after his demobilization from the army, and where the present oil was painted. Georgette, the thirteen-year-old daughter of the farmer at Champrovent, served as the model for both figures in this painting. Seen sleeping on the sofa, she is the image of fantasy and carefree abandon. Before finishing the first iteration of Le Salon in 1943, Balthus completed a second, more detailed version of the subject in 1942, now at The Museum of Modern Art in New York.

The outstanding selection of Latin American Art on offer this May is led by two magnificent pieces by Rufino Tamayo and Joaquín Torres-García – the largest works by the two Modern art giants ever to appear at auction. Acquired directly from the artist in 1989, Sandías from 1980 is a resplendent example of Rufino Tamayo’s watermelon motif and one of the last canvases that he painted of the fruitful subject, as well as among the last works that he created before he ceased production in 1990 (pictured left, estimate $4/6 million). Construcción en Blanco was painted in Paris in 1931 at the apex of Joaquín Torres-García’s artistic output. This ambitious and exemplary work embodies the artist’s fully realized investigations into Universal Constructivism: his most original contribution to American abstraction: a theory he first conceptualized during his short but critical years of residence in New York from 1920-1922 (estimate $3.5/4.5 million).

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