Sotheby's 40th Anniversary Sale of Swiss Art totals CHF 5.1 million, led by masterworks by Hodler and Vallotton

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Sotheby's 40th Anniversary Sale of Swiss Art totals CHF 5.1 million, led by masterworks by Hodler and Vallotton
Ferdinand Hodler, Bildnis von Emma Schmidt-Mueller. Sold for CHF 1,340,000 / EUR 1,203,162. Courtesy Sotheby's.

ZURICH.- Celebrating 40 years of Swiss Art sales at Sotheby’s, this evening’s auction, Swiss Art / Swiss Made in Zurich was led by Ferdinand Hodler’s masterful and painterly portrait of Emma Schmidt-Müller, which sold on behalf of a Swiss non-profit foundation for CHF 1,340,000 / EUR 1,203,162.

Among the other main highlights of the sale was Félix Vallotton’s ethereal landscape, Bord de Seine à Tournedos, effet gris, which soared above its high estimate to sell for CHF 956,000 / EUR 858,375. Works of 19th-century painting from the Asbjorn Lunde Collection also stood out, led by Alexandre Calame’s majestic Torrent de montagne par orage, 1850, another work which sold in excess of the pre-sale estimate for CHF 200,000 / EUR 179,576.

Participation in the sale hailed from 25 countries, reflecting the increasing international interest for Swiss Art from beyond the country’s borders. The total for the sale was CHF 5,101,688 / EUR 4,580,713

Speaking after the sale, Stéphanie Schleining, Head of Swiss Art, commented, “As we mark four decades of Swiss Art sales at Sotheby’s, I am delighted with this evening’s result, which confirms the global appeal of high-quality works from Switzerland. It is a privilege for me to meet collectors both here on my doorstep and as far afield as Asia and the United States, who share a passionate understanding of Swiss Art.”


FERDINAND HODLER, Bildnis von Emma Schmidt-Müller, 1915

Ferdinand Hodler’s portraits allowed him to fully experiment with expression and bold colours, developing a visual language which is reminiscent of both the Fauves and works by Egon Schiele and the Viennese Secession. This masterful example, sold on behalf of a Swiss non-profit foundation, found a buyer this evening for CHF 1,340,000 / EUR 1,203,162 (Lot 25, estimate CHF 1,000,000 – 1,500,000 / EUR 880,000 – 1,320,000).

FÉLIX VALLOTTON, Bord de Seine à Tournedos, effet gris
A key figure of the Swiss artistic landscape, Félix Vallotton also featured prominently this evening. As with many landscapes realised by the painter in the latter part of his life, this work is imbued with a surreal, slightly eerie feeling. This quintessential example of his artistic idiom captured the attention of bidders, soaring above estimate for CHF 956,000 / EUR 858,375 (Lot 40, estimate CHF 400,000 – 600,000 / EUR 351,000 – 530,000).

AUGUSTO GIACOMETTI, Flucht nach Ägypten (Flight into Egypt)
Exhibited only twice since 1916, Flucht nach Ägypten is without a doubt one of Augusto Giacometti’s great masterpieces. In this work, the artist’s talent as a colourist and his poetic vision are beautifully condensed as one. Depicting the Holy Family, fleeing to Egypt to escape King Herod beneath a huge glowing moon, the painting was acquired this evening for CHF 350,000 / EUR 314,259 (Lot 67, estimate CHF 300,000 – 500,000 / EUR 263,000 – 438,000).

A famous American collector of Scandinavian extraction, Asbjorn Lunde assembled one of the world’s most important collections of 19th-century Swiss landscapes. Leading the selection of works this evening was Torrent de montagne par orage, 1850, a superb composition by Alexandre Calame which sold above estimate for a final price of CHF 200,000 / EUR 179,576 (Lot 22, estimate CHF 80,000 – 120,000 / EUR 70,500 – 106,000).

Paul Klee’s Häuser an der Düne, 1923, a beautiful watercolour completed during the most innovative and fruitful period of the painter’s artistic career, sold for CHF 225,000 / EUR 202,023 (Lot 64, estimate CHF 200,000 – 250,000 / EUR 176,000 – 219,000).

Abstraktion nach einem primitiven im Museo Nazionale in Neapel, 1934, by Augusto Giacometti – which reveals the artist as one of the pioneers of abstraction – captured the imagination of bidders, reaching CHF 43,750 / EUR 39,282 (Lot 57, estimate CHF 25,000-35,000 / EUR 21,900 – 30,700).

A new artist’s record was set this evening for Hans Josephsohn. The most important example of his work ever to appear at auction, his large size half-figure in brass, Untitled, 1987 nearly doubled the previous record - of CHF 68,750 - reaching a final price of CHF 156,250 / EUR 140,294 (Lot 89, estimate CHF 150,000 – 200,000 / EUR 132,000 – 176,000).

Max Bill’s Weiss aus Farben, 1969 also stood out in the Contemporary section of the sale, doubling its pre-sale low estimate to sell for CHF 60,000 / EUR 53, 873 (Lot 82, estimate CHF 30,000 – 40,000 / EUR 26,300 – 35,100).

Soaring to more than six times the pre-sale high estimate, Sylvie Fleury’s irreverent work Composition prompted a bidding battle this evening, selling to applause for CHF 37,500 / EUR 33,671 (Lot 80, estimate CHF 4,000 – 6,000 / EUR 3,550 – 5,300).

Following the success of Swiss watches presented in December last year, the sale tonight featured a selection of timepieces made in Switzerland. 15 of 16 watches sold, for a combined total of CHF 80,500 / EUR 72,279.

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