Lukewarm Response at Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Sale in London

Christie's held its Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale last night, offering works by masters like Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet and Wassily Kandinsky. Leading by Picasso's Mousquetaire et nu assis, the sale saw a lukewarm response from bidders. Could that be a symptom of pre-sale depression that everyone is playing safe while waiting to make their move at the "Sale of the Century"?

Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale

Set to be held in May this year, Christie's sale of the Collection of Peggy and David Rockefeller will be the most significant philanthropic auction ever presented. Christie’s has selected paintings, furniture and works of art that reflect the Rockefeller family’s wide-ranging interests and intellectual pursuits. The sale, billed as the "Sale of the Century", will offer masterpieces by Picasso, Monet, and Matisse.

Christie's offers The Collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller for sale in May

One of the highlights is Picasso's Fillette à la corbeille fleurie

Monet's Nymphéas en fleur

Among all treasures offered, artworks by impressionist and modern artists are highly-anticipated by collectors. It is likely that collectors are now saving money for the historic sale in May.

Pablo Picasso’s Mousquetaire et nu assis, painted in Mougins on 11 April 1967, was the centrepiece of the sale. It is among the first musketeers that appeared in his work, and depicts the artist alongside the voluptuous figure of Jacqueline, his last great love, muse and wife.

The painting was offered an opening bid of £10.5m and was hammered down at the low estimate £12m after receiving 5 bid increments.

Started at £5.2m, the bidding of Claude Monet's Prairie à Giverny stopped at £6.5m, a price below its low estimate £7m.

Edgar Degas’ Dans les coulisses, thought to have been executed between 1882 and 1885, was sold for £8m, the second highest price of the night. 

14 out of 65 lots offered were either withdrawn or bought-in. The sale achieved a total of £113.8m and 78 percent sell-through rate — a result that the auctioneer Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie's Global President, seemed disappointed at.


Top three lots

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Mousquetaire et nu assis.

Lot no.: 18
Created on: 1967/4/11
Size: 130 x 96.5cm

  • Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris (no. 01267).
  • Saidenberg Gallery, New York.
  • Private collection, New York.
  • Acquired from the above; sale, Christie's, London, 18 June 2007, lot 56.
  • Private collection, Europe, by whom acquired at the above sale.
  • Private collection, Europe.

Estimate: £12,000,000 - 18,000,000
Hammer price: £12,000,000
Price realized: £13,733,750

Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Dans les coulisses.

Lot no.: 20
Created in: 1882-1885
Size: 66.7 x 37.5cm

  • Henri Rouart, Paris; his estate sale, Galerie Manzi-Joyant, Paris, 16 December 1912, lot 74.
  • Luigi Chialiva, Paris, by whom acquired at the above sale as agent on behalf of Ernest Rouart, and thence by descent to Mme Julien Rouart, Paris; her estate sale, Drouot Montaigne, Paris, 27 November 1997, lot 21.
  • Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.

Estimate: £8,000,000 - 12,000,000
Hammer price: £8,000,000
Price realized: £8,993,750

Claude Monet (1840-1926). Prairie à Giverny.

Lot no.: 19
Created in: 1885
Size: 65.2 x 81.1cm

  • Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris, by whom acquired directly from the artist on 23 April 1900.
  • Arthur Tooth & Sons Ltd., London (no. 2540), by whom acquired from the above on 15 February 1951.
  • Major H. J. Dunsmuir, Ayrshire, by whom acquired from the above on 8 March 1951, and thence by descent to the present owner.

Estimate: £7,000,000 - 10,000,000
Hammer price: £6,500,000
Price realized: £7,546,250


Auction result

Auction house: Christie's London
Sale: Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale
Date: 2018/2/27
Lots offered: 65
Sold: 51
Unsold: 14
Sold by lot: 78%
Sale total: £114,103,000