Masterpieces From The Estate of Canadian Collector Edgar M. Bronfman To Be Auctioned

Christie’s Auctioneers has announced the sale of Property from the Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman, the distinguished businessman, philanthropist, and diplomat, in the upcoming auction season. Bronfman’s acquired collection was formed over the course of several decades and spans the categories of Impressionist & Modern Art, American Art, Post-War and Contemporary Art, Prints & Multiples, and Decorative Arts.

The collection boasts a large selection of works by such blue-chip artists as Picasso, Monet, Degas, and Avery, among others. The collection, which will be sold in New York, London, and Hong Kong, as well as in an online-only sale, is expected to realize in excess of $34 million.

A stunning selection of Impressionist and Modern Art is to be sold on May 6 and 7 throughout the Evening Sale, Day Sale and Works on Paper Sale. Highlights of the Evening Sale include works of art by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) ‘Mangeuse de pastèque et homme écrivant’,1965 (estimate: $7,000,000–10,000,000). The young man in the painting, clothed and attending to his writing, is a surrogate for Picasso, the young woman seated nearby with a slice of watermelon – a symbolic offering for all the fruits of this earth and her lovely body – is Picasso’s muse and wife, Jacqueline Roque.

Edgar Degas (1834-1917) Le Tub, circa 1889, is widely regarded as one of the most innovative and important sculptures of the modern era (estimate: $4,000,000-6,000,000). With its unflinching physiognomic realism and deliberate revision of the traditional syntax of the female body, this arresting sculpture of a young woman washing herself in a shallow basin represents a daring break with academic mores. The iconographic complexity of Le Tub is heightened further by the unusual vantage point that Degas seems to encourage the spectator to adopt. Since the bather is partially submerged in the shallow basin, a full view of the figure can be obtained only by looking down at her. In Henri Matisse’s (1869-1954) Femme auprès de la fenêtre, painted in Nice in 1920, the view through a window is a perfect analogy for the art of painting and metaphor for the advent of modernism (estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000). With shutters opened and thrown back, the dazzling light of a new day streams in and sets the room ablaze with color, as fresh sea breezes aerate damp and musty interior spaces. In these spaces filled with light, Matisse suggests the tenor of everyday living, creating a visual poetry of delicate stillness and quietude, captured in casual, momentary vignettes.

Egon Schiele’s (1890-1918) Akt mit roten Strumpfbänder (recto); Liegender Akt (verso), executed in 1911 shows the changes in Scheiele’s aesthetic style and in his relationships with women that characterised this fulcrum period in his brief career (estimate: $3,000,000-5,000,000). Akt mit roten Strumpfbander demonstrates the increasing skills that Schiele had developed in the use of watercolor and gouache, as well as his highly idiosyncratic sense of line. The reds and pinks in the subject’s upper body and face have a billowing quality that reveals the artist taking advantage of the liquidity of his medium in order to add a feeling of flushed and stippled flesh. The rose tints of her body dominate the composition, as does her face, which grounds the viewer in a penetrating gaze.

Post-War and Contemporary Art Post-war and contemporary art works from the Bronfman collection include: European and American abstraction from the 1950s and 60s. The main highlight from the grouping is Hans Hofmann’s (1880-1966) Le bouquet du vine from 1964 where active gesture by the painter results in an explosion of bright color (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). Other highlights include works by Sam Francis and Richard Pousette-Dart. American Art A definitive work from the most-celebrated period in the artist’s oeuvre, Milton Avery’s (1885-1965) The Mandolin Player has a lyrical sense of music and motion (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). The highly saturated palette of greens, blues, oranges and pinks is representative of Avery’s works from the mid-1940s, as is his rendering of expressive figures through a contained, plastic two-dimensional design. The interconnectedness of music and the formal components of visual art had been explored by American Modernists such as Arthur Dove and Georgia O’Keeffe in the 1910s and 1920s and were championed by European abstract painter, Wassily Kandinsky. Avery had likely been exposed to Kandinsky’s work while exhibiting at the Valentine Gallery on 57th Street in 1935. Avery explored the topic in a more literal approach, demonstrating his ability to blend modern themes and broader European influences while remaining committed to a familiar subject, thus creating his own style.  

Picasso Ceramics Christie’s will offer a stellar modern ceramics collection in Impressions in Clay: Pablo Picasso Ceramics featuring the Estate of Edgar M. Bronfman. Following the overwhelming success of previous dedicated Picasso ceramics sales at Christie’s, this sale will be offered exclusively as an online-only auction and runs from May 2 through May 16. The entirety of the collection will be on view during Prints & Multiples view (April 18-22), and highlights will be presented during the Impressionist & Modern view (May 2-6). The sale includes works at prices beginning at $1,500. Top lots include Picasso’s Tripod (A.R. 125) ($50,000-70,000) and a complete 8-piece Corrida service set (A.R. 416-423) ($70,000-90,000).

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