17/12/2020 News Stories & Press Release, Impressionist, Modern & Post War Art
The Impressionist, Modern, Post War & Contemporary Art department that hosts two auctions a year, headed by Tess O’Brien, saw a healthy increase of just over 15% in profits this year. The department covers the movements that define recent Western Art, which include the examples of the period in all media - paintings, works on paper, sculpture and ceramics. It also has a strong focus on global artists, in particular those from South American, Africa and Russia. This year highlights came from artists from Russia, America, France and the United Kingdom. All five top lots were all paint mediums, including oils, a gouache and an acrylic on canvas.
Lot 2 an early gouache by the renowned Russian artist, Boris Grigoriev, titled ‘At the Tent’ was the highest valued lot of 2020 for the Impressionist, Modern, Post War & Contemporary Art department at Roseberys. This painting originally came from the pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg collection of Alexander Evgenievich Burtsev, and remained with him until the 1917. Burtsev was a Russian bibliophile, bibliographer, publisher, art collector, author of ethnographic works and merchant of the first guild. As an honorary citizen of St. Petersburg, he gathered a large library of rare books and acquired a significant collection of autographs. On top of curating the library, he also arranged exhibitions of his collections and had ambitions to create a museum dedicated to new and innovative Russian art. Burtsev published journals on his collection including; 'My Journal for the Few', and it was for volume 9, issue 12 that this particular artwork was executed by Grigoriev. The consigner of this lot previously purchased the gouache many years previously within a mixed group lot at another auction house. Unbeknown of its real value or knowledge of the artist behind the work, the consigner was pleasantly surprised when Roseberys specialist Tess O’Brien revealed it to be a rare work by Russian artist Boris Grigoriev after a valuation request. ‘At the Tent’ sold for a final price of £45,000.
Leading the December Impressionist, Modern, Post War & Contemporary Art sale was work by American artist Brian Calvin, titled Thing (II), created using acrylic on canvas in 2007. Estimated to make £15,000 - £20,000, the acrylic on canvas made £25,000, which was a record for the artist at the time. The artwork garnered interest from all around the world on the day of the auction, including phone bidders from US, Italy and France. Since the 1990s, Brian Calvin has developed a body of highly stylised large, colourful, flattened paintings, rendering his figures in light-soaked portraits that retain a lifelike quality. He is well known for his paintings which depict youthful figures, based on the people he observes in his home state of California, such as the work sold at Roseberys.
The third best result of 2020 within the department was a work of art by Mela Muter - the pseudonym of Maria Melania Mutermilch, who was one of the most significant Polish/Jewish female painters in Paris in the early 20th century. She studied at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie Colarossi under Etienne Tournés. In Paris, Muter swiftly built a reputation as a portrait painter and exhibited her work regularly, first at the Paris Salon in 1902, and subsequently at the Salon des Indépendants, the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts, the Salon des Tuileries as well as the Salon des Femmes Artistes Modernes. During the Second World War, Muter went into hiding in the South of France, from this point on she created Fauvist landscapes of the area, such as Lot 23 presented in this auction. ‘Landschaft’ which was entered at a price of £5,000-7,000, ended up making £25,000. Tess O’Brien, commented ‘I was really pleased with the result of this painting as there were restoration issues but the oil is an exquisite work from her early period’.
Both works by American abstract expressionist painter Paul Jenkins sold well in the December Impressionist, Modern, Post War & Contemporary Art sale, making a combined figure of £26,875. The highlight of the two being an oil on canvas with impressive provenance titled Cape of Good Hope, which made £20,625. Created in 1958 this painting is a typical example of Jenkins’s style, achieved through his eschewing of the paintbrush, which left the paint to seep, pool and drip across the canvas. The other work by Jenkins within the sale, also an oil on canvas titled Eye of the Doie, Paris, created a year later in 1959, sold for £6,250.
Two determined bidders competed for lot 33, a watercolour and pastel on paper by German multimedia artist Janaina Tschäpe, with the final bidder paying £15,000, three times its top estimated price. This artwork has a particular interest in exploring the connection between art and the environment through the representation of forms drawn from shapes found in the natural world, portraying an abstract assemblage of plant and aquatic life, with all the fluidity and disorder which imbue the natural world.
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The next Impressionist, Modern, Post War & Contemporary Art auction will take place on Wednesday 23 June
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