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.


 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



Estimate ($)

Price Realized



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


Estimate on request






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


Estimate on request






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


$18,000,000 – $25,000,000






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

Painted on 25 July 1969

Estimate on request






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






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

$22,000,000 – $30,000,000






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


$15,000,000 – $25,000,000






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


$10,000,000 – $15,000,000






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


$12,000,000 – $18,000,000






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

$7,000,000 – $9,000,000





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

17th century watercolors once in Cassiano dal Pozzo’s “Museo Cartaceo” for sale at Bonhams

8 Hooded Crow

Si tratta di una delle più importanti collezioni di dipinti a soggetti naturalistici e archeologici mai create. Sono undici acquerelli in totale messi all’asta tematica “Bonhams Old master Paintings Sale” a Londra Mercoledì 3 di dicembre. Saranno venduti singolarmente e hanno una stima complessiva di £ 65.000.

I dipinti provengono dal celebre Museo Cartaceo opera del mecenate e viaggiatore Cassiano dal Pozzo, amico di Galileo Galilei. Dal Pozzo ha commissionato oltre 7.000 acquerelli a soggetti naturalistici e archeologici da alcuni dei pittori più importanti del suo tempo. Il suo fine era archiviare ogni antichità conosciuta in una prospettiva antiquaria ed enciclopedista.

Tale immenso materiale oggi è diviso tra varie collezioni reali dei Windsor e quelle della British Library di Londra; ma la parte maggiore di esso è a Windsor presso la Royal Library. Ciascun esemplare del Museo Cartaceo è stato numerato e rilegato in volumi che nel tempo sono passati dalla famiglia Dal Pozzo a Papa Clemente XI fino a quando finirono nella collezione di Re Giorgio III nel 1762.

Nel 1780 alcuni dei volumi ed alcuni degli acquerelli, compresi quelli in vendita, furono restaurati nella nuova legatoria reale a Buckingham Palace. Successivamente queste opere trovarono una sede permanente nella biblioteca reale di Windsor.

All’inizio del XX secolo, una serie di volumi del Museo Cartaceo sono stati venduti dall’allora bibliotecario di Windsor, Sir John Fortescue, per raccogliere fondi per la manutenzione della Biblioteca. Molti anni dopo, per puro caso, questi undici acquerelli sono stati scoperti in un negozio di antiquariato dal successore di sir John, il maggiore Sir Owen Morshead. Sir Owen, un eroe di guerra pluridecorato, è stato direttore bibliotecario a Windsor tra il 1926 ed il 1958.

British Library London
British Library London

Andrew Mckenzie, di responsabile del dipartimento di arte antica per Bonhams ha dichiarato: “Il Museo Cartaceo è stata una delle più importanti collezioni di dipinti di storia naturale e archeologica mai creata. E’ un omaggio allo spirito per la ricerca e la conoscenza universale che hanno caratterizzato l’uomo di quel tempo”.

By Andrea Foffi e Manuel Galvez – –

One of the most remarkable collections of natural history and archaeological paintings ever created

Eleven watercolour paintings once in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle are to be offered at Bonhams Old master Paintings Sale in London on Wednesday 3 December.   They will be sold individually and have a combined upper estimate of £65,000.

The paintings are from the Paper Museum – Museo Cartaceo in Italian – assembled by the 17th century Roman intellectual, Cassiano dal Pozzo, a friend of Galileo and patron to the French Classical painter Nicolas Poussin.  Dal Pozzo commissioned over 7,000 watercolours of natural history and archaeology painted from first had observation by some of the leading painters of the day.  Each sheet of the Paper Museum was numbered and bound in volumes which in time passed from the dal Pozzo family to Pope Clement XI until they ended up in the collection of King George III in 1762.

In the 1780s at the newly established Royal Bindery in Buckingham House (later Palace) some of the volumes were rebound and some of the watercolours, including the ones in the sale, were remounted. The books eventually found a permanent home in the Royal Library at Windsor.

Early in the 20th century, a number of volumes of the Paper Museum were sold by the then Librarian at Windsor, Sir John Fortescue, to raise funds for the Library’s upkeep.   Many years later, by complete chance, these eleven watercolours were discovered in an antique shop by Sir John’s successor as Librarian, Major Sir Owen Morshead.  Sir Owen, a much decorated war hero from the Great War where he served with the Prince of Wales, was the Librarian at Windsor from 1926-1958. He played a key role in reorganizing the Library along rational lines bringing in Kenneth Clark, for example, to catalogue the six hundred drawings by Leonardo da Vinci for the first time.

The eleven paintings are made up of ten studies of birds and one of a fish and include a magnificent Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (£7,000-9,000), a Short-eared Owl (£6,000-8,000) and a Paradise Whydah (£3,500-4,500).

Bonhams Director of Old Master Paintings, Andrew Mckenzie, said: “The Museo Cartaceo was one of the crowing achievements of Rome in the Baroque era and is one of the most remarkable collections of natural history and archaeological paintings ever created.  It is a tribute to the restless spirit of enquiry into all branches of knowledge which characterised the time.”

By Andrea Foffi e Manuel Galvez – –