Sotheby’s London Impressionist and Modern Art Sale will feature “Les Peupliers à Giverny,’’ one of Monet’s depictions of poplar trees in the fields at the edge of his property in Giverny. Painted in 1887, it captures the sunset of early autumn. Sotheby’s is auctioning the painting on Feb. 3; it is estimated to sell for $13.8 million to $18.4 million (£9 million to £12.1 million).
The work is in fact one of five Monets included in this Sotheby’s sale, but this particular painting maybe of special interest due to the seller of the work – the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which comes as a surprising twist. The catalogue says it is being sold to “benefit the acquisitions fund.”
In an email, a spokeswoman for the museum told the New York Times, “This painting is an example of an Impressionist style that precedes the starting point of the museum’s painting collection.”
Careful readers of auction catalogues will notice a symbol beside the painting’s lot number signifying that Sotheby’s has what it calls an “irrevocable bid” on the painting. From that fact they may deduce that means that a buyer has already agreed to purchase it for an undisclosed sum but that if someone wants to pay more, the person who made that arrangement with Sotheby’s will receive a percentage of the difference between the price agreed upon and what it sells for.
Before the painting was gifted to the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1951 by the collectors William B. Jaffe and his wife, Evelyn, “Les Peupliers à Giverny” belonged to the Art Institute of Chicago, which sold it in 1947.
The painting will be on view at Sotheby’s in New York from January 21 until January 23 along with other works that are set too go under the hammer at Sotheby’s London Impressionist and Modern Art Sale.