Shane Ferro
Art market news and commentary by the staff of Art+Auction

MARKET WATCH: Art market news and commentary by the staff of Art+Auction

Sale of the Week, February 3-9: Muses and Lovers at London’s Imp-Mod Sales

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SALE: Impressionist & Modern Art

LOCATION: Christie’s and Sotheby’s London

DATE: February 5-8

ABOUT: Two muses star as the top lots in London’s Impressionist and Modern art auctions next week: Pablo Picasso’s lover Marie-Therese Walter and Amedeo Modigliani’s wife, Jeanne Hebuterne. Picasso’s bright 1932 portrait of the former is the biggest offer of the week, expected to fetch £25 million-£35 million at Sotheby’s on February 5. The work most recently appeared at Gagosian Gallery’s blockbuster 2011 exhibition dedicated to Picasso’s series of Walter paintings.

Meanwhile, at Christie’s, which is hosting its version of the sale on February 6, Modigliani’s “Jeanne Hebuterne au Chapeau” is another quiet, contemplative look at the artist’s beloved, painted just a year before they each died. The painting is estimated at £16 million-£22 million.

For tortured romance, look no further than Egon Schiele’s watercolor of his onetime girlfriend Walpurga Neuzil, pictured clutching onto him at the waist in “Lovers — Self-Portrait With Wally,” 1914-15. The painting is offered at £6.5 million-£8.5 million at Sotheby’s, which has already secured a third-party guarantee for the work.

The female form also long intrigued Henri Matisse, who, hot off his current show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has two such examples in his offerings at Sotheby’s — a saturated portrait of a young woman for £500,000-£800,000 and a charcoal drawing of a reclining nude for £80,000-£120,000. Christie’s, meanwhile, offers an early watercolor and collage on paper of Matisse’s dancers for £2.2 million-£3.4 million.

Plus, there is an Edgar Degas ballet dancer (Sotheby’s £3 million-£5 million), a Renoir nude (Christie’s, £1.5 million-£2 million), another Schiele watercolor of Wally (Sotheby’s, £450,000-£650,000), and many more.

Maybe someone will do some very generous Valentine’s Day shopping?

— Rachel Corbett

(Photo: Edgar Degas, 1887, “Danseuse Rajustant Son Chausson,” © Sotheby’s)

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