A Rare Rediscovered Print Album Including Munch’s Sought-after Angst Could Fetch Up to £1m at Sotheby’s

The very rare, complete set of Les Peintres-Graveurs published by Ambroise Vollard, one of the great art dealers of the 20th century, was thought to be long lost until it was recently rediscovered. The portfolio comprising 22 prints by the likes of Pierre Bonnard, Odilon Redon, Théo van Rysselberghe, Auguste Renoir, and Edouard Vuillard will go under the hammer in September at Sotheby’s with an estimated value between £500,000-1m. The portfolio includes vibrant prints by Les Nabis alongside Edvard Munch’s sought-after Angst.

Born in Saint-Denis, Réunion, Ambroise Vollard was raised in the French Indian Ocean colony. The French art dealer made a tremendous contribution to providing support and exposure to numerous then-unknown artists including Paul Cézanne, Aristide Maillol, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Louis Valtat, Pablo Picasso, André Derain, Georges Rouault, Paul Gauguin and Vincent van Gogh.

Vollard opened his first gallery with an exhibition of drawings by Edouard Manet. Following this exhibition, Vollard gave Paul Cézanne his first exhibition on 13 November, 1895. In these early years, Vollard was seen as an outsider who had little experience of the art market. However, he was not restricted by the conventions of the art establishment, or the prejudices within that market.

Vollard engaged the master print-maker Auguste Clot to work with his commissioned artists and produce lithographs, preferably in colour, for his first Album des Peintres-Graveurs. He provided the artists with the finances and technical support to experiment with this new technique, giving the painters an opportunity to express themselves in lithography with the possibility to print the works in colour.

Pierre Bonnard, La Petite Blanchisseuse (J. 11; Bouvet 40). Portfolio, Les Peintres-graveurs (Cf. Johnson Pp. 127-155)

Vollard’s choice of artists for the Album des Peintres-Graveurs was considered radical at the time. The Société Française des Peintres-Graveurs had decided to exclude foreign artists, yet Vollard saw the potential in the large number of foreign artists gravitating to Paris. These works by foreign artists not only gave the Parisian audience the opportunity to see works from across Europe, it also attracted international collectors to his gallery.

Maurice Denis, La Visitation (J. 30; Cailler 94). Portfolio, Les Peintres-graveurs (Cf. Johnson Pp. 127-155)

No complete example of Les Peintures-Graveurs was known to exist until its recent rediscovery in a private European collection. Even in Vollard’s lifetime, albums were split and prints were sold individually. To date, no institution or private collector has been able to obtain the full album.

Odilon Redon, La Méditation (J. 101; Memmerio 158). Portfolio, Les Peintres-graveurs (Cf. Johnson Pp. 127-155)

Initially produced in an edition of 100, the present album was purchased in 1920’s Paris by the current owner’s family and has remained in their collection since, never before exhibited publicly. At the heart of his portfolio is an exceptional impression of one of Edvard Munch’s most famous motifs, Angst (or Le Soir).

Edvard Munch, Le Soir (J. 84; Woll 63; Schiefler 61). Portfolio, Les Peintres-graveurs (Cf. Johnson Pp. 127-155)

The portfolio Les Peintres-Graveurs will be offered at Sotheby’s Prints and Multiples auction on 17 September, alongside an array of Old Master, Modern and Contemporary masterworks.

Portfolio Les Peintres-Graveurs
Lot no.: 112
Estimate: £500,000-1,000,000

Auction details

Auction house: Sotheby’s London
Sale: Prints & Multiples
Live auction begins:
Session 1: 17 SEP 2019 | 10:30 AM | Lots 1-68
Session 2: 17 SEP 2019 | 02:30 PM | Lots 69-189