Museum quality masterpieces are on sale tomorrow evening (Weds 24th June 2015) at Sotheby’s. A Malevich painting has the top estimate but more interesting is Édouard Manet’s first version of Le Bar aux Folies-Bergère from 1881. Fresh from the National Gallery’s Inventing Impressionism exhibition it is one of the artist’s most famous images.
LE BAR AUX FOLIES BERGÈRE, Manet, oil on canvas 47 by 56cm. 18½ by 22in, 1881 Est £15-20m
Manet’s celebrated large-scale oil of the same title, exhibited at the Salon of 1882 is now in the collection of the Courtauld Gallery. While the two paintings share the same subject and a similar composition, the artist’s stylistic approach to painting them differed significantly. Unlike the painting in the Courtauld, this smaller, earlier painting (47 by 56cm) displays a remarkable vivacity and immediacy in the artist’s depiction of his subject, and is executed with quick, spontaneous brushstrokes that remained barely altered as Manet developed the composition.
The painting remained in the artist’s personal collection up until his death and was shown to the public in 1905 in the now legendary exhibition at the Grafton Galleries, London, which introduced the British public to Impressionism.
The evening sale also includes works from other heroes of art history such as Monet, Chagall and Henry Moore. A Degas Petite danseuse from 1922 is also in the sale. Celebrated for the revolutionary nature of its modern sculptural form, this was the only sculpture exhibited during Degas’ lifetime. Rather than showing the graceful poise and elegance expected of the dancer, it focuses on unflinching realism.
The Day sale has highlights of its own, including a group of 126 Picasso ceramics which have never before left the artist’s family. Watch a video about these Earth and Fire works here. A strikingly simple yet expressive brush and ink portrait of Marie Jose by Matisse demonstrates his mature, flowing style whilst there are works by Renoir, Derain and Klimt amongst other big names. Check out the full catalogue here.