New York season to give art lovers the royal treatment

Claude Monet’s ‘Meules’ (1890) at Sotheby’s.

Christie’s and Sotheby’s are in the frame for a series of important sales, says Des O’Sullivan

AS THE May art sales in New York are fast approaching, Christie’s and Sotheby’s are gearing up for an important selling season. On May 13 Christie’s will offer a dedicated selection of 11 works from Princess “Titi” von Furstenberg, who died in 2006, in its evening sale of Impressionist and Modern art.

The collection of more than 30 artworks ranges from Pablo Picasso to Mark Rothko, Andre Derain and Lucio Fontana. Further lots will be offered in the day sale on May 14, the Post-War and Contemporary Art sale on May 16, and in a Paris sale of African art next October. Born in Houston in 1919, Titi von Furstenberg’s father was Robert Lee Blaffer, founder of the company now known as Exxon Mobile. Her maternal grandfather, William Thomas Campbell, was among the founders of Texas Oil, now known as Texaco.

Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for a Portrait’ (1981) at Sotheby’s.
Francis Bacon’s ‘Study for a Portrait’ (1981) at Sotheby’s.

Amadeo Modigliani’s limestone sculpture Tete, carved c1911-12, in the same sale, is estimated at $30m-$40m. This is one of the 26 pieces that defined his sculptural output and one of the last in private hands. Modigliani’s oil portrait of his muse Lunia Czechowska from the collection of Drue Heinz (1915-2018), the English-born wife of Jack Heinz of the food empire, is in the sale, as is a 1939 work by Balthus, Therese sur une banquette, estimated at $12m-$18m. Therese was just 14 when she posed for this piece, one of ten portraits in which she featured reading or doing nothing but dreaming, all painted between 1936 and 1939.

Andre Derain’s ‘Les Voiles Rouges’ from the collection of Titi von Furstenberg at Christie’s.
Andre Derain’s ‘Les Voiles Rouges’ from the collection of Titi von Furstenberg at Christie’s.

One of the finest examples of Monet’s series known as Haystacks will come up at Sotheby’s evening sale of Impressionist and Modern Art on May 14. The series is famous for the way in which the artist repeated the same subject to show the effects of different light and atmosphere at different times of the day, across the seasons and in different weather. Meules from 1890 is one of only eight from the series of 25 works remaining in private hands. Sotheby’s expected it to sell for more than $55 million.

This sale features important works by Gustave Caillebotte, Pierre Bonnard, Pablo Picasso, Francis Picabia and Marc Chagall.

Lunia Czechowska, painted by Amadeo Modigliani from the Drue Heinz collection.
Lunia Czechowska, painted by Amadeo Modigliani from the Drue Heinz collection.

The Contemporary Art evening auction on May 16 will be highlighted by Mark Rothko’s Untitled (1960) from the collection of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. This sale is further distinguished by Francis Bacon’s Study for a Head from 1952 and by the same artist’s Study for a Portrait, 1981, the last of his famous portraits of his love and muse, George Dyer.

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