Small is beautiful, a mantra Sotheby’s is capitalising on with the launch of an evening sale in June dedicated to bijou works of art. The only criteria is that each lot must be reproducible at actual size in the sale catalogue–in other words smaller than 29.6cm x 22.8cm.
The brainchild of Allan Schwartzman, the chairman of Sotheby’s Fine Art Division, and Thomas Bompard, the head of Impressionist and Modern art evening sales in London, the auction will focus on 20th- and 21st-century sculptures, paintings and works on paper. Exceptions will be made, however, for top quality pieces from other periods, such as Renaissance devotional paintings or 18th-century romantic miniatures.
Bompard says the sale “chimes with a particular kind of collecting interest that is ever-more pronounced among today’s collectors”. He notes that several small but "power-packed" works by Gauguin, de Stael, Klimt and Klein did particularly well in the Impressionist and Modern sale on 1 March. The works “attracted interest and competition almost in direct anti-correlation to their scale”, Bompard says.
For example, Klimt’s portrait Girl in the Foliage (Mädchen im Grünen) (1896) sold to the Gustav Klimt Vienna 1900 foundation for £3.7m (£4.3m with fees), just over twice its upper estimate. At 26.2cm x 32.7cm, the canvas is slightly too big for the forthcoming sale, but Yves Klein’s, Unititled Monogold (MG 47), a gold leaf on wood panel work measuring 21.5cm by 17.3cm would meet the criteria. It sold for £908,750 (with fees) against an estimate of £700,000 to £900,000.
Titled Actual Size, the new sale will coincide with Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modernist auction in London on 21 June.