A rare figurative work painted by Vincent Van Gogh in 1889, the year he admitted himself to an asylum, and an equally uncommon townscape by Egon Schiele from 1915 are among the highlights that will lead Christie’s Impressionist and Modern sale in London this June.
Vincent van Gogh, Le moissonneur (d’après Millet) (1889) (Image: Christie's Images Ltd.)
Le Moissonneur (d’après Millet) is one of ten paintings Van Gogh made after a group of drawings by Jean-François Millet, seven of which are in the collection of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam. The colourful canvas, of a reaper working in a wheat field, carries an estimate of £12.5m-£16.5m and is among the earliest works being offered by the auction house, together with paintings by Renoir and Monet.
“Le Moissonneur features typical Van Gogh brushstrokes that give a sense of monumentality. Figures are reasonably rare in his work, but here we are reminded how skilled he is when it comes to depicting the human form,” says Jay Vincze, the head of Impressionist and Modern art at Christie’s.
At the other end of the spectrum, some of the later works come courtesy of a group of Picassos from the 1950s and 1960s, a late work by Marc Chagall, La Paradis (est £2.5m-£3.5m), and a 1956 Jean-Paul Riopelle painting, Profile d’Orage (est £700,000-£1m).
“It’s a broader range of material than before,” Vincze says. “There’s an element of breaking down the traditional boundaries that don’t make as much sense in today’s collecting world. We are catering to that cross over between great post-war and avant-garde works.”
The sale on 27 June is now the focal point of the summer season at Christie’s after the auction house announced in March it was cancelling its June post-war and contemporary auctions to focus on the equivalent sales in March and September.
Other standout works being offered in June include “a wonderfully imposing” Schiele painting of a forbidding townscape, which carries an estimate of £20m to £30m, and Max Beckmann’s anti-Nazi canvas, Bird’s Hell (1938), which, valued at around £30m, is the most expensive lot.
The sale is expected to make at least £100m overall. “We have currently exceeded the £100m mark, which is a nice milestone,” Vincze says. “But where we will be in a few weeks’ time is yet to be confirmed.”