On 29 June, two auctions were held consecutively at Sotheby’s London and achieved a grand total of £149 million pounds (around US$180 million dollars). In the first sale, British Art: The Jubilee Auction, figurative painter Francis Bacon's Study For Portrait of Lucian Freud painting fetched a record-breaking £43.3 million pounds.
In this article, the Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale will be outlined. The most valuable lot was Andy Warhol’s Self Portrait, which garnered £12.7 million pounds (around US$15.4 million dollars).
Alongside Warhol’s work, Western Masters Claude Monet and Gerhard Richter’s oeuvres each fetched more than £10 million pounds. They were the sale’s second and third most expensive lots.
Auctioneer Helena Newman
Lot 110 | Andy Warhol | Self Portrait, Acrylic and silkscreen ink on canvas
Created in 1986
203.2 x 203.2 cm
- The Estate of Andy Warhol, New York
- Anthony d’Offay Gallery, London (acquired directly from the above in March 1989)
- Acquired from the above by the present owner in 1998
Estimate: £12,000,000 – 18,000,000
Hammer Price: £11,000,000
Sold: £12,737,500 (around US$15.4 million)
David Rothschild with the winning bid
The auctioneer, Helena Newman, started the bidding at £10 million pounds. The hammer was dropped at £11 million pounds, which was less than estimated. The winning bid went to David Rothschild, Senior Specialist of Private Sales, New York; for his client with paddle number L0047. In the end, it garnered £12.7 million pounds (around US$15.4 million dollars) with buyer’s premium.
Created in 1986, Self Portrait presents an image of both Warhol the man and Warhol the artistic phenomenon. Viewers see the artist tackling the challenges of self-depiction with an up-close intensity. The self-portraits' composition from 1986 are based on polaroid photographs in which Warhol’s head hovers eerily against a black background – his neck disappearing and the silver hair of his wig jutting out above his face at severe angles. The wig is the most animated aspect of the portrait, as sweeps of thick hair form strong diagonals from upper left to lower right.
His work also represents the transformation of the artist’s ageing features in dialogue with the technical transformation of his painterly practice. Using his face as an arena for technical and compositional experimentation, by the 1980s Warhol had harnessed and honed to sheer perfection the silkscreen process which he had introduced to his fine art practice in the early 1960s.
Warhol's Self-Portrait (1986) | Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Warhol's Self-Portrait (1986) | Tate, London
The American artist at the opening of Andy Warhol exhibition at Anthony d'Offay Gallery, London in 1986
Measuring 203.2 by 203.2 centimetres, the present work is executed in the second-largest scale within this cycle of self-portraits. Works from this same subset reside in several prestigious museum collections – such as The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Tate, London.
The Fright Wig paintings series build upon Warhol’s earlier forays into self-portraiture and were similarly the result of a commission, but this time from the eminent gallerist Anthony d’Offay. Unveiled at d'Offay’s London gallery in 1986, many of the Fright Wig self-portraits formed the first and sole show in Warhol's career dedicated to the theme of self-portraiture. The two polaroid images that were used as the basis of this cycle of self-portraits were the ones exhibited in the landmark 1986 show – an exhibition that would become Warhol’s last major commercial outing.
Lot 120 | Claude Monet | Vetheuil, Oil on canvas
Created in 1880
60.1 by 100.2cm
- Marie-Francois Firmin-Girard, Paris
- Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above on 11th April 1888)
- Arthur Tooth & Sons, London (acquired from the above on 19th June 1936)
- Andrew T. Reid, Perthshire (acquired from the above in 1936. Sold by his estate: Christie's, London, 27th March 1942, Lot 104)
- Private Collection, United Kingdom (purchased at the above sale)
- Private Collection, London (by descent from the above. Sold: Christie's, London, 25th June 2002, Lot 6)
- Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Estimate: £10,000,000 – 15,000,000
Hammer Price: £10,000,000
Sold: £11,738,500 (around US$14.1 million)
Ben Doller with the winning bid
The bidding started at £8 million pounds. After four bids, the hammer was dropped at £10 million pounds. The winning bid went to Ben Doller, Chairman, Americas; for his client with paddle number 182. In the end, it garnered £11.7 million pounds (around US$14.1 million dollars) with buyer’s premium.
The present work depicts Vetheuil – a village northwest of Paris – where the artist lived with his family from 1878 until 1881. During this period, Monet’s growing interest in nature and the change in climate at different times of day and seasons, became ever more noticeable in his canvases.
His treatment of the same subject matter demonstrates a shift in his aesthetic objectives. He was no longer concerned with buildings and trees as objects – instead, he focused primarily on the effects of natural light as it illuminated the landscape and changed the atmospheric quality of the surroundings.
Monet's Vetheuil en ete (1880) | Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
Monet's Vue de Vetheuil (1880) | Nationalgalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin
Vetheuil is one of five works painted from the banks of Lavacourt looking across the Ile Musard towards Vetheuil. This present work is most closely related to Vetheuil en ete (Vetheuil in summer) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and Vue de Vetheuil (View of Vetheuil) at Nationalgalerie in Berlin. Although both canvases capture the atmospheric effect of the landscape, this current work is painted in vibrant and intense colours – displaying a variety of brushstrokes and the dappled effect of light across the trees and water.
Monet's paintings from Vetheuil represent a critical development in the evolution of his style, when he began to strike out from the established techniques of the early imagery that he perfected while living in the northwestern French commune of Argenteuil in the 1870s. The Vetheuil canvases strike a balance between the naturalist-realist origins of Impressionism and a boldly experimental approach to capturing the changing qualities of light – a technique that became an increasingly important element in his series paintings of the late 1880s and early 1900s.
Lot 105 | Gerhard Richter | Study for Clouds (Contre-jour), Oil on canvas
Created in 1970
80 x 100 cm
- Galerie Rudolf Zwirner, Cologne
- Private Collection, Germany
- Sotheby’s London, 26 June 2002, Lot 12 (consigned by the above)
- Simon C. Dickinson Ltd., London (acquired directly from the above)
- Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2002
Estimate: £6,000,000 – 8,000,000
Hammer Price: £9,500,000
Sold: £11,164,000 (around US$13.4 million)
Lisa Dennison with the winning bid
The bidding started at £5 million pounds. After more than 30 bids, the hammer was downed at £9.5 million pounds. The winning bid went to Lisa Dennison, Chairman, Americas; for her client with paddle number 113. In the end, it garnered £11.1 million pounds (around US$13.4 million dollars) with buyer’s premium.
Created in 1970 and numbered 276 in the artist’s catalogue raisonne, the present work is one of 22 photo-realist Cloud paintings in oil on canvas. Six of which are held in prestigious museum collections – including Museum Folkwang, Essen; Fondation Camignac, Paris; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and Kunst-und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn.
Richter's Wolken (Clouds), (1970) | National Gallery of Ottawa, Canada
Produced between 1968 and 1979, the series is among Richter’s most celebrated, and marks a significant pre-curser to his photorealist Kerzen (Candles) and Schadel (Skulls) of the 1980s.
Inspired by cloudscape genre of painting of the 15th to 19th centuries – with notable artists such as Michelangelo, Caspar David Friedrich and John Constable – Study for Clouds (Contre-jour) is an exquisite canvas from Gerhard Richter’s celebrated Wolken (Clouds) series. A corpus of work that navigates the boundary between painting and photography, it is a melange between abstraction and representation, nature and the sublime.
On this present work’s surface, Richter creates a heightened sense of drama as sunlight breaks through heavenly white clouds. Set against a bright blue sky, the sun-drenched clouds are magnificent in their precise rendering. Satisfying his viewer’s longing for a spiritual encounter with the force of nature, Richter draws upon the cloud’s value throughout the art historical canon as a powerful symbol of heavenly proxies.
Other highlight lots:
Lot 139 | August Strindberg | Wave V, Oil on canvas
Created in 1901
100 by 70.8 cm
- August Falck, Stockholm, by circa 1912 (Falck (1882-1938) was a Swedish actor, known for his performances in Strindberg's Miss Julie and Victor Sjostrom's A Man There Was, based on a poem by Henrik Ibsen. Falck and Strindberg co-founded Intima Teatern)
- Torsten Tegner, Stockholm (Tegnér (1888-1977) was a Swedish athlete and journalist, and son of the Swedish composer Alice Tegner. He was the editor of the Idrottsbladet newspaper for over fifty years)
- Sale: Bukowski's, Stockholm, 25 April 1956, lot 99
- Sidney Kingsley and Madge Evans Kingsley (Sidney Kingsley (1906-95) was an American dramatist who received the Pulitzer Prize for drama for his play Men in White in 1934; his sale: Sotheby's, New York, 23 October 1990, lot 192)
- Purchased from the above by the present owner
Estimate: £2,000,000 – 3,000,000
Hammer Price: £5,700,000
Sold: £6,797,800 (around US$8.1 million)
Lot 124 | Willem de Kooning | Untitled XVI, Oil on canvas
Created in 1985
195.5 x 223.5 cm
- Xavier Fourcade, Inc., New York
- Acquired from the above by the present owner in March 1986
Estimate: £3,000,000 – 4,000,000
Hammer Price: £3,000,000
Sold: £3,545,000 (around US$4.2 million)
Lot 119 | Camille Pissarro | Vue de Bezancourt, inondonation, soleil couchant (View of Bezancourt, flood and sunset); Oil on canvas
Created in 1893
46 x 55 cm
- Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist on 15th March 1893)
- Baron Denys Cochin, Paris (acquired from the above on 15th March 1893)
- Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the above on 6th May 1897)
- Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, Paris & Galerie Georges Petit, Paris (acquired from the above on 13th February 1899)
- Fernand Bezancon, Paris
- Galerie de l'Elysee (Jean Metthey), Paris
- Private Collection, France (acquired from the above in 1949)
- Private Collection, France (by descent from the above. Sold: Christie's, London, 25th June 2002, Lot 3)
- Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Estimate: £1,500,000 – 2,000,000
Hammer Price: £2,100,000
Sold: £2,576,000 (around US$3 million)
Lot 117 | Stanley Whitney | The Wild West, Oil on canvas
Created in 2013
183 by 182.5 cm
- Galerie Nordenhake, Berlin
- Private Collection, New Jersey (acquired from the above in 2015)
- Thence by descent to the present owner
Estimate: £300,000 – 400,000
Hammer Price: £720,000
Sold: £906,200 (around US$1 million)
Lot 102 | Simone Leigh | Blue/Black; Terracotta, porcelain, epoxy and india ink
Created in 2014
39.4 x 19 x 22.3 cm
- Gavlak Gallery, Palm Beach
- Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2014
Estimate: £200,000 – 300,000
Hammer Price: £490,000
Sold: £617,400 (around US$748,000)
Lot 115 | Shara Hughes | You Are My Sunshine; Oil, acrylic, enamel, glitter, paint pen and spray paint on canvas
Created in 2010
121.7 x 152.5 cm
- Museum 52
- Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2010
Estimate: £200,000 – 300,000
Hammer Price: £450,000
Sold: £567,000 (around US$687,000)
Lot 114 | Christina Quarles | We Woke Up in Mourning Jus Tha Same, Acrylic on canvas
Created in 2017
152.4 by 121.9 cm
- David Castillo Gallery, Miami
- Acquired from the above by the present owner in 2017
Estimate: £350,000 – 450,000
Hammer Price: £420,000
Sold: £529,200 (around US$641,000)
Lot 103 | Anne Weyant | Buffet, Oil on linen
Created in 2020
91.2 x 122 cm
- Blum & Poe, Los Angeles
- Acquired from the above by present owner
Estimate: £100,000 – 150,000
Hammer Price: £370,000
Sold: £466,200 (around US$565,000)
Auction House: Sotheby’s London
Sale: Modern & Contemporary Evening Auction
Date and Time: 29 June 2022
Number of lots: 46
Sale Rate: 80.4%
Sale Total: £76,759,200 (around US$93 million)