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Sotheby's

Sotheby's logo


Sotheby’s was founded in London on March 11, 1744, when Samuel Baker auctioned “several Hundred scarce and valuable books” from the library of the Rt Hon Sir John Stanley for a few hundred pounds. The story of Sotheby’s expansion beyond books to include the best in fine and decorative arts and jewellery is also the story of the global auction market, defined by extraordinary moments that continue to capture the world’s attention.
Since 1744, Sotheby’s has distinguished itself as a leader in the auction world. Our auctions, conducted in the venerable salerooms in London and Paris, the museum-quality galleries of our headquarters in New York and the spirited environs of Hong Kong rivet audiences worldwide. Season after season, the depth and excellence of Sotheby’s offerings have produced watershed, record-breaking sales. Sotheby’s has been entrusted with the sale of many of the world's treasures, amongst them: Napoleon’s St Helena library, the Duchess of Windsor’s jewels, the Estate of Mrs Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Rembrandt’s Aristotle Contemplating the Bust of Homer, Rubens’ Massacre of the Innocents, Picasso’s Garçon à la Pipe, Bacon’s Triptych, 1976, The Grand Ducal Collections of Baden, the Qianlong Yellow-Ground Famille-Rose Double-Gourd Vase, the 5,000-year-old Guennol Lioness, Giacometti’s L’Homme Qui Marche I, the Magna Carta, the first printing of the Declaration of Independence and The Martin Luther King Jr Collection.
Sotheby’s has long recognised that great works of art, as well as the collectors interested in consigning and acquiring them, inhabit the global sphere. We were the first international auction house to expand from London to New York in 1955, and the first to conduct sales in Hong Kong and the then–Soviet Union. Today we maintain 90 locations in 40 countries and we conduct 250 auctions each year in over 70 categories. In addition to our four principal salerooms, the company, recognising the potential in new markets, also conducts auctions in six other salerooms around the world, further expanding our global reach. Through BIDnow, clients can also watch all Sotheby’s auctions live online and place bids in real time, from anywhere in the world. And through the ever-enriching content on Sothebys.com, the oldest publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange (BID) continues to be fresh and current, while always mindful of its historic roots.
An unwavering commitment to the very highest level of quality remains the goal of one of the most storied names on the global business stage.
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Some works sold by Sotheby's

Tiziano Vecellio - The Madonna And Child

Tiziano Vecellio - The Madonna And Child

Follower -
Estimate:

Price:

Gross Price
Lot number: 401
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Follower of Tiziano Vecellio, called Titian THE MADONNA AND CHILD oil on panel 16 3/4 by 12 in.; 42.5 by 30.5 cm. Provenance Chester D. Tripp, Chicago; By whom given to The Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1957 (Inv. no. 57.31). Literature B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri, Census of Pre-Nineteenth-Century Italian Paintings in North American Public Collections, Cambridge 1972, pp. 202, 335, 609 (as from the studio of Titian); K. Baetjer, European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by artists born in or after 1865, A Summary Catalogue, New York 1980, vol. I, pp. 185-86, vol. II, p. 120, reproduced (as Style of Titian); K. Baetjer, European Paintings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, by artists born in or after 1865, A Summary Catalogue, New York 1995, p. 80, reproduced (as Style of Titian); P. Joannides, Titian to 1518: the assumption of genius, New Haven 2001, p. 143, reproduced; M. Falomir, in Tiziano, exhibition catalogue, Madrid 2003, pp. 142, 350 (as by a follower of Titian).
Sarah Bernhardt - Ophelia

Sarah Bernhardt - Ophelia

Original
Estimate:

Price:

Lot number: 1
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Sarah Bernhardt OPHELIA FRENCH, 1844-1923 the frame with a title plaque inscribed: OPHELIA / PAR / SARAH BERNHARDT signed: SARAH. BERNHARDT white marble, in a wood frame marble: 70 by 59cm., 27½ by 23¼in. frame: 98.5 by 76.5cm., 38¾ by 30 1/8 in. Provenance Private collection, Normandy, France Catalogue Note “Her clothes spread wide; And, mermaid-like, awhile they bore her up: Which time she chanted snatches of old tunes; As one incapable of her own distress, Or like a creature native and indued Unto that element: but long it could not be Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay To muddy death.” William Shakespeare Hamlet, Act IV, Scene VII Celebrated as one of the greatest actresses of all time, Sarah Bernhardt was also recognised for her talent in the medium of sculpture, a passion which complemented her success as a stage artist. The present marble relief of Ophelia is a rare surviving work signed by Bernhardt, and among her most important to appear at auction in recent memory. Deeply sensuous in form and conception, Ophelia testifies to the iconic actor’’’’’’’’s considerable skill as a sculptor, while epitomising Bernhardt’’’’’’’’s fascination with the morbid eroticism that surrounds Shakespeare’’’’’’’’s heroine. Born in Paris to a courtesan and an unknown father, Sarah Bernhardt received her first training as an actor at the Comédie-Française from which she was expelled, prompting a brief period of activity as a courtesan. Resuming her acting career in 1866, Bernhardt began to develop a reputation on the stage at prestigious Parisian theatres. She soon found unprecedented fame across Europe and beyond, enjoying several worldwide tours during the 1880s and 1890s. Known in particular for her magisterial portrayals of tragic characters, Sarah Bernhardt’’’’’’’’s legendary status continued into the early 20th century, when she starred in silent films and remained active on the stage until her death in 1923. Sarah Bernhardt was as flamboyant a personality off the stage as she was in her dramatic roles. Famously, the actress acquired a coffin in the 1860s, in which she would pose and sleep regularly throughout her life. By thus fetishising her hypothetical corpse, Bernhardt displayed an erotically charged obsession with death that was both personal and symptomatic of her time – a time when morgues were places of public spectacle, and morbidly beautiful phenomena such as the death mask of ‘L’’’’’’’’Inconnue de la Seine’’’’’’’’ captivated the art scene. It was the same 19th-century environment which gave rise to an artistic fascination with the character of Ophelia in William Shakespeare’’’’’’’’s Hamlet. The tragic fate of the heroine, who becomes Hamlet’’’’’’’’s lover but falls victim to the Prince’’’’’’’’s plotting of revenge and, in her eventual madness, drowns in a stream, was depicted by painters such as Eugène Delacroix and, notably, John Everett Millais. Bernhardt’’’’’’’’s activity as a sculptor began in the 1870s with guidance from Roland Mathieu-Meusnier and Jules Franceschi. Taking a studio in 1873, she went on to model a number of highly accomplished works, such as the group Après la Tempête, which she exhibited at the Salon in 1876. Despite being the most famous actress of her day, Sarah Bernhardt had never performed the role of Ophelia at the time her marble was conceived – it was not until 1886 that she appeared as Ophelia in a production of Hamlet, followed by a controversial turn as the eponymous character of Shakespeare’’’’’’’’s tragedy in 1899. Yet Bernhardt’’’’’’’’s prominent obsession with death had led to a long-lived fascination with the tragic heroine, and her sculptural representation of Ophelia became one of her most significant works. Modelled in 1880, the relief accompanied Bernhardt on her first tour of North America before being shown at the Paris Salon in 1881. Reviews of Ophelia were positive, praising it as a work 'of which any sculptor might be proud' (see Mason, op. cit., p. 312) – a choice of words which highlights Bernhardt's unique status as both a woman and a full-time actress active in the profession of sculpture. The relief is thought to exist in a handful of versions in marble, the present example being an important rediscovery. The only other version whose location is known is that in Copenhagen, which was gifted to the Royal Theatre by Bernhardt in June 1881 and remains on display in its foyer. Another version is recorded to have been a gift to the Austrian painter Hans Makart, while a third was exhibited at the World’’’’’’’’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. Photographs reveal very slight variations between the marbles, and it is possible that the present version is that which was given to Makart. Bernhardt’’’’’’’’s personal attachment to the work is revealed by her inclusion of a photograph of Ophelia – probably the plaster – in her 1907 memoirs. Bernhardt’’’’’’’’s high relief represents Ophelia in bust-form, her head turned, her eyes closed, wearing a garland of flowers, and enveloped by water which merges with her tresses. The subtlety of Bernhardt’’’’’’’’s modelling is showcased in the beautifully detailed flowers, as well as the delicate waves of the ‘glassy stream’’’’’’’’, whose texture contrasts with the smooth and bulging form of Ophelia’’’’’’’’s exposed right breast. Though seemingly depicted in the moment of her death, the woman’’’’’’’’s sensuous open-mouthed expression, overt nudity, and languid pose exude an undeniable eroticism. Unaware of her suffering, the heroine appears to embrace her death as an ecstatic consummation. Bernhardt thus offers an original interpretation of the references to female sexuality and deflowering made by Shakespeare throughout the scene of Ophelia’’’’’’’’s madness and Queen Gertrude’’’’’’’’s speech describing her death, which makes use of sexualised imagery such as ‘long purples / That liberal shepherds give a grosser name’’’’’’’’. In her later theatrical interpretations of the character, Bernhardt would add a heightened level of eroticism to Ophelia's death by choosing to appear on stage herself as the dead Ophelia – instead of the conventional coffin – in the graveyard scene, in which her brother Laertes throws himself upon her body. Mirroring her sculptural portrait of the heroine, Bernhardt was described thus in a review by Joseph Knight (1886, as quoted in Young, op. cit., p. 23): ‘She is once more seen with her face rigid as marble, and her body, covered with flowers, …’’’’’’’’ RELATED LITERATURE M. E. Mason, Making Love/ Making Work: The Sculpture Practice of Sarah Bernhardt, doctoral thesis, The University of Leeds, May 2007, vol. II, pp. 310-348; A. R. Young, ‘Sarah Bernhardt’’’’’’’’s Ophelia’’’’’’’’, Borrowers and Lenders: The Journal of Shakespeare and Appropriation, 8, no. 1, 2013
Zao Wou-Ki - Pierre De Ciel

Zao Wou-Ki - Pierre De Ciel

Original 2005
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Price:

Lot number: 1
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Zao Wou-Ki PIERRE DE CIEL SIGNED, SIGNED IN CHINESE; TITLED AND NUMBERED HC 20 ON THE REVERSE; LITHOGRAPH ON PORCELAIN. EXECUTED IN 2005 BY BERNARDAUD, THIS WORK IS THE HORS COMMERCE PROOF NUMBER 20 FROM AN EDITION OF 150. 1920 - 2013 signé, signé en chinois; titré, numéroté HC 20 au dos lithographie sur porcelaine Exécutée en 2005 par Bernardaud, cette coupe est l'épreuve hors commerce numéro 20 d'une édition de 150 exemplaires. diam: 36 cm; 14 13/16 in.
Rene Magritte - Le Repas De Noces

Rene Magritte - Le Repas De Noces

Original 1940
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Price:

Lot number: 41
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
René Magritte LE REPAS DE NOCES 1898 - 1967 signed Magritte (lower left); signed Magritte, titled and dated 1940 on the reverse gouache on paper 31 by 41.5cm. 12 1/4 by 16 3/8 in. Executed in 1940. James Ducellier, Carcassonne Joë Bousquet, Carcassonne Private Collection, France (acquired in 1970) Thence by descent to the present owners Exhibited Carcassonne, Maison Ratto, 1940 Yamaguchi, Prefectural Museum & Tokyo, National Museum of Modern Art, René Magritte, 1988, no. 50, illustrated in colour in the catalogue Paris, Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Passions privées, 1995-96, illustrated in the catalogue Montauban, Musée Ingres, Rencontres d'Art: Les Contrées du silence, 2002, no. 33, illustrated in the catalogue Literature Letter from Magritte to Louis Scutenaire & Irène Hamoir, 24th July 1940 Letter from Magritte to Louis Scutenaire & Irène Hamoir, 27th July 1940 Abraham Marie Hammacher, René Magritte, New York, 1973, no. 30, illustrated p. 29 Harry Torczyner, Magritte: Ideas and Images, New York, 1977, no. 26, illustrated p. 31 Abraham Marie Hammacher, René Magritte, 1986, fig. 28, illustrated p. 24 Jacques Meuris, René Magritte, Paris, 1988, no. 155, illustrated in colour p. 102 David Sylvester (ed.), Sarah Whitfield & Michael Raeburn, René Magritte, Catalogue Raisonné, London, 1994, vol. IV, no. 1159, illustrated p. 43 Robert Hughes, The Portable Magritte, New York, 2001, illustrated in colour p. 193 (as dating from 1939-40)
Henri Matisse - Jacquy

Henri Matisse - Jacquy

Original 1947
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Price:

Lot number: 1
Other WORKS AT AUCTION
Description:
Henri Matisse JACQUY 1869 - 1954 signed H. Matisse, dated 47 (lower left) and titled (lower right) brush and ink on paper 49 by 37.2cm. 19 1/4 by 14 5/8 in. Executed in Paris in 1947. The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Wanda de Guébriant. Estate of the artist Lumley Cazalet, London Private Collection, Europe (acquired circa 2000. Sold: Sotheby's, London, 23rd June 2010, lot 125) Purchased at the above sale by the present owner ‘Drawing, for me, is the art of being able to express myself with line’’’’’’’’. Henri Matisse in conversation with Louis-Bertrand Rayssiguier, Vence, 13th April 1948 In the 1940s Matisse turned again to the subject of the human face, producing a series of brush and ink drawings that are an eloquent testimony to his skills as a draughtsman. Filling the full expanse of the sheet, these exercises in portraiture reveal the artist’’’’’’’’s ability to capture a sense of character in only a few gestural strokes of ink. Writing about his approach to drawing as early as 1939 Matisse observed: ‘In spite of the absence of shadows or half-tones expressed by hatching, I do not renounce the play of values of modulations. I modulate with variations in the weight of line, and above all with the areas it delimits on the white paper. I modify the different parts of the white paper without touching them, but by their relationships’’’’’’’’ (quoted in Jack Flam (ed.), Matisse. A Retrospective, New York, 1988, p. 328). This remained true of his later drawings and is beautifully exemplified in the bold simplicity of work such as Jacquy. Drawing on the purity of classical tradition, as well as the influence of japonisme and the aesthetic of calligraphy, these late works nonetheless possess a notable vigour and energy and provide an interesting counterpoint to the celebrated cutouts he was working on during this period. From his earliest days as a student of art, when drawing was primarily a means of sketching out a scene or character in situ, Matisse’’’’’’’’s approach has been characterised by the speed and acuity with which he worked. Composed of a few, brilliantly confident lines, Jacquy reveals a spontaneity and fluidity of handling that is the hallmark of Matisse’’’’’’’’s work in this medium and imbues even the simplest of his works with a touching expressiveness. The subject of the present work is the artist's grand-daughter, Jacqueline Monnier Matisse, as sitter. In the final years of his life, Matisse frequently turned to family and friends as subjects and filled his rooms at the Hotel Régina with drawings, sometimes even drawing on the walls and ceiling of the room with a brush attached to a long pole. The artist once confided to one of his many visitors: ‘These are my grandchildren. I try to picture them, and when I succeed, I feel better. I have even drawn them on the ceiling in order to have them in front of me, above all during the night. That way I feel less alone’’’’’’’’ (quoted in Matisse. Visages découverts (exhibition catalogue), Mona Bismarck American Center, Paris, 1996, p. 17, translated from French).
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current week's auction

Place Date Artworks Works at Auction
Paris
February 23, 2017
173
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