Christie’s New York: Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché sold for $170 mln

Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché

The defining masterpiece of Modigliani’s art, this life-affirming work is a lesson in erotic education — offered as part of the curated sale The Artist’s Muse on Monday 9 November at Christie’s New York

Amedeo Modigliani’s Nu couché is one of the great, undisputed facts of his extraordinary life and tragically brief, but brilliant, artistic career. It is one of the defining masterpieces of his work: a seamless fusion of classical idealism, sensual realism and modernist invention. It is a work that reaches the lofty heights of Modigliani’s long-held ambition to create a sublime sculptural icon in the form of a woman ­– what he called a ‘column of tenderness’ – while acknowledging the gritty reality of his bohemian life as an impoverished émigré eking out an existence in a poor district of Paris.

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Realistic enough to seduce, yet stylized to the point that it stands as an idealized vision, Nu couché is no portrait, but rather a great artist’s paean to idea of the beauty of life itself. It is one of the finest and most admired of an extraordinary series of joyous, sensual, erotic and life-affirming nudes. Modigliani painted Nu Couché in an intense spate of creativity from the winter of 1917 onwards. It was, by all accounts, the product of several hours of intense, feverish work painting ‘orgasmically’, according to the painter Tsuguharu Foujita, in a small, poorly furnished room, alone with his model, two chairs, a couch and a bottle of brandy during what was probably the worst year of the Great War. It is a defiant life-affirming ‘yes-saying’ to life made directly in the face of great personal adversity during one of the darkest and most traumatic periods of the 20th century.


TOP TEN RESULTS | THE ARTIST’S MUSE: AN EVENING SALE | NEW YORK | NOVEMBER 9, 2015

 The Artist’s Muse: A Curated Evening Sale 

New York, 9 November 2015, Sale #3789

[All sold prices include buyer’s premium]

24 lots sold

Total: $491,352,000/ £325,830,239/ €455,184,844

71% sold by lot 

34 lots offered

£0.66= $1 / €0.93=$1

87% sold by value

Lot

Description

Estimate ($)

Price Realized

Buyer

8A

Amedeo Modigliani (1884-1920), Nu couché, oil on canvas, Painted in 1917-1918

WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

Estimate on request

$170,405,000

£113,000,663

€157,861,926

Anonymous

13A

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Nurse, oil and Magna on canvas, Painted in 1964

WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

Estimate on request

$95,365,000

£63,239,390

€88,345,428

Anonymous

5A

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Thérèse, carved miro wood, gold gilding and copper nails, Executed circa 1902-1903; unique

WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR A SCULPTURE BY THE ARTIST 

$18,000,000 – $25,000,000

$30,965,000

£20,533,820

€28,685,746

Anonymous

20A

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), Homme à l’épée, oil on panel

Painted on 25 July 1969

Estimate on request

$22,565,000

£14,963,528

€20,904,048

Anonymous

7A

Paul Cézanne (1839-1906), L’homme à la pipe(Étude pour un joueur de cartes) (recto); Père…, watercolor on paper (recto); pencil on paper (verso), Painted in 1892-1896 (recto); Drawn in 1890-1892 (verso)

 

$18,000,000 – $25,000,000

$20,885,000

£13,849,469

€19,347,709

Anonymous

19A

Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), James Lord, oil on canvas, Painted in 1964

$22,000,000 – $30,000,000

$20,885,000

£13,849,469

$19,347,709

Anonymous

10A

Gustave Courbet (1819-1877), Femme nue couchée, oil on canvas, Painted in 1862

WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR THE ARTIST

$15,000,000 – $25,000,000

$15,285,000

£10,135,942

€14,159,910

Anonymous

3A

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner (1880-1938), Im See badende Mädchen, Moritzburg, oil on canvas, Painted in Moritzburg, 1909

 

$10,000,000 – $15,000,000

$13,605,000

£9,021,883

€12,603,571

Anonymous

6A

Paul Gauguin (1848-1903), Jeune homme à la fleur, oil on canvas, Painted in Tahiti, 1891

 

$12,000,000 – $18,000,000

$13,605,000

£9,021,883

€12,603,571

Anonymous

22A

Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Crying Girl, porcelain enamel on steel, Executed in 1964

$7,000,000 – $9,000,000

$13,381,000

£8,873,342

€12,396,059

Anonymous

Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. 

Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and do not reflect costs, financing fees or application of buyer’s or seller’s credits.

 

Related Sale Sale 3789
The Artist’s Muse
November 9, 2015
New York, Rockefeller Plaza

World War I Nevinson’s avant-garde images of New York at Bonhams print sale

Due disegni di New York dell’artista inglese Christopher Nevinson in asta alla “Prints and Multiples Sale” di Bonhams che si terrà a Londra il 9 dicembre prossimo. “The mezzotint, New York Night (43rd Street)” è stimato a £ 25,000-35,000 e “The drypoint, Three A.M. A Corner by Madison Square at Night” a £ 10.000 – 15.000.

Nel 1919, Nevinson, molto noto per i suoi disegni con soggetto la prima guerra mondiale, fu invitato ad esporre a New York dall’editore e mecenate Frederick Keppel. Keppel, molto soddisfatto della mostra, gli chiese di ritornare l’anno successivo e il risultato di queste visite a New York fu una serie di suggestive immagini che ritraggono un paesaggio urbano dominato da edifici che sovrastano gli abitanti. Anche se gli artisti americani conoscevano già questo modo di rappresentare la grande mela, Nevinson è stato il primo inglese a farlo in questo modo.

Frederick Keppel
Frederick Keppel

Three A.M. A Corner by Madison Square at Night” evoca immagini del  capolavoro del 1927 di Fritz LangMetropolis” al punto che Nevinson successivamente sostenne che il regista si fosse ispirato a lui per alcune scenografie e la locandina del Film.

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Rupert Worrall, direttore del dipartimento Prints and Multiples di Bonhams, ha detto, “Nevinson era ansioso di allontanarsi dall’Europa dopo gli orrori della prima guerra mondiale e di andare avanti artisticamente. Tuttavia, come dimostrano le atmosfere cupe dei suoi quadri non gli era facile sfuggirgli.

Nevison presto si stancò di New York, soprattutto a causa della tiepida accoglienza per la sua mostra del 1920. Tornato in Europa, ha trascorso un periodo produttivo in Francia e anche una serie di disegni di questo periodo sono presenti in asta. Un porto francese (Bordeaux) – € 20.000-30.000, Quartiere Latino (£ 3000-4000) e Pont Royale (£ 4.000-6.000) dimostrano l’affetto dell’artista per la capitale francese. Tutti questi lavori sono stati eseguiti nel 1922.

By Andrea Foffi e Manuel Galvez

www.meridianae.com – info@meridianae.com

www.oredelmondo.com – info@oredelmondo.com


Two images of New York by the British artist Christopher Nevinson feature in Bonhams next Prints and Multiples Sale in London on 9 December. The mezzotint, New York Night (43rd Street) is estimated at £25,000-35,000 and the drypoint, Three A.M. A Corner by Madison Square at Night at £10,000 – 15,000.

In 1919, Nevinson, who had built a reputation on the strength of his defining images of World War I, was invited to exhibit in New York by the American print dealer and publisher Frederick Keppel.  Keppel asked him back the following year and the result of these New York visits was a series of striking images depicting a cityscape dominated by buildings that tower over the inhabitants. Although American artists had already tapped into this idea, Nevinson was the first British artist to respond to a city in this way.

Three A.M. A Corner by Madison Square at Night conjures up images of Fritz Langs’s 1927 masterpiece Metropolis and Nevinson was later to claim an influence on both the set design and the film poster. Bonhams Director of Prints and Multiples, Rupert Worrall, said, “Nevinson was anxious to get away from Europe after the horrors of the First World War and to move on artistically. His wartime experiences were not so easy to escape, however, as the stark angularity and suppressed menace of his New York series show.”

Nevison soon wearied of New York mainly because of the lukewarm reception for his 1920 exhibition. Back in Europe he spent a productive time in France and a number of images from this period also feature in the sale. A French Port (Bordeaux) – £20,000-30,000 is a complex and atmospheric depiction of the city and Quartier Latin (£3,000-4,000) and Pont Royale (£4,000-6,000) attest to his long term affection for the French capital.  All these works were executed in 1922.

The earliest of the seven prints in the sale is set in the United Kingdom. Southwark (Limehouse), executed in 1918, is a rare mezzotint from the end of the war. Estimated at £20,000-30,000, the image shows two watermen on the river dwarfed by dark and brooding wharf buildings in a part of London barely changed since Dickens set Our Mutual Friend there in the mid 1860s.

By Andrea Foffi e Manuel Galvez

www.meridianae.com – info@meridianae.com

www.oredelmondo.com – info@oredelmondo.com