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Sotheby's sale led by Picasso and Giacometti

Sale was peppered with a number of classic impressionist paintings, with demand from across the globe

Picasso and Giacometti led a historic sale at Sotheby's London, on June 19. Sotheby's evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art totaled £87.5 million / $115.7 million in London, with collectors demonstrating the interest in a wide range of material spanning the entire field, as well as a broad spectrum of media.

Pablo Picasso and Alberto Giacometti stand shoulder-to-shoulder as two of the universally acknowledged greats of the modern era. The auction was led by Buste de femme de profil (Femme écrivant) from the artist's 'year of wonders', 1932, which sold for over ten times the £2.4 million it achieved when last at auction in 1997. At £27.3 million / $36.1 million, it brought the total for the four works by Picasso offered that evening to £450 million / $53 million.

Auction sales of works by Picasso at Sotheby's worldwide this year have reached $232 million. A rare departure from Giacometti's usual themes of male and female figures, his evocative and elegant Le Chat sold for £12.6 million / $16.7 million. Subsequent to this rendition of a cat, a dog, and two horses in 1951, Giacometti never turned his hand to sculpting animals again. Also by Giacometti, the highly expressive Buste de Diego was sold to a Japanese collector in its auction debut for £2.9 million / $3.8 million (est. £2.5-3.5 million).

The sale was peppered with a number of great classic Impressionist paintings, with demand from across the globe. Appearing at auction for the first time, Claude Monet's dazzling La Méditerranée par vent de mistral sold for £7.2 million / $9.5 million (est. £6.5-8.5 million), a triumphant example of the artist's mastery over land and seascapes. Camille Pissarro's Le Boulevard Montmartre, brume du matin, from the artist's most celebrated series of urban views, was acquired by an Asian private collector for £3.5 million / $4.6 million (est. £3-5 million).

Last seen at auction in 1875, Pierre-Auguste Renoir's atmospheric Après la tempête (temps d'orage), a rare example of the artist's early work, brought an above-estimate £610,000 / $806,664 (est. £350,000-450,000). The painting hailed from a prestigious private European collection put together in the first half of the 20th century. An auction first was a ravishing portrait of Bloomsbury icon Mary Hutchinson by Henri Matisse – one of only a handful of works by the artist ever created of a British sitter. Offered from the estate of her son, the renowned criminal lawyer Lord Hutchison of Lullington Q.C., 1936 drawing sold for £3.1 million / $4.1 million (est. £2-3 million). Marc Chagall's Les amoureaux en bleu got the sale off to a soaring start, pursued by ten bidders who took the price to £1.2 million / $1.5 million (est. £300,000-500,000). A large-scale gouache by René Magritte, La belle captive, brought £922,000 / $1.2 million (est. £700,000-1,000,000)

Uma Nair

Uma Nair

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