The Impressionist & Modern Art auction on November 4 at Bonhams New York will be headlined by two bronze sculptures by modern British artist, Henry Moore (1898-1986), offered on behalf of the estate of acclaimed actress, Lauren Bacall, a friend of the artist.
Working Model for Reclining Figure: Bone Skirt (est. $600,000 – 800,000) is a spectacular figure with rich dark brown patina, cast shortly after Bacall and Moore met for the first time in 1976. The work is a beautiful portrayal of the Reclining Figure, one of Moore's iconic motifs, and a constant from the early 1920s through to his very last works. Ms. Bacall’s example is an extremely desirable ‘table-top’ size that measures 27 inches in length.
The second bronze is Maquette for Mother and Child: Arms (est. $150,000 – 200,000), 8 inches in length, which was cast in 1976. The Mother and Child theme can be traced back to a sculpture made while Moore was still a student at the Royal College of Art, London. The subject was made familiar from his public art projects around the world.
Lauren Bacall became interested in Henry Moore in California in the 1950s when she started buying his lithographs though she didn’t meet him until 1976, an encounter she described as a high point in her life. These sculptures adorned the drawing room of her elegant home, surrounded by her notable collection of art and antiques, which overlooked Central Park in New York’s famed Dakota building.
Also leading the sale is Camille Pissarro's Le village à travers les arbres from the collection of celebrated Los Angeles philanthropist, Onnalee Olson Doheny. The painting dates from 1869, a pivotal year in the history of Impressionism. Pissarro was working in Louveciennes with Claude Monet and Alfred Sisley, and through mutual encouragement they devised an entirely new artistic language which went on to revolutionize Western art. Pissarro’s paintings of this period are particularly rare as the majority were destroyed in the Prussian occupation of the town in 1871. The painting is expected to fetch between $700,000 – 900,000.
An exquisite oil on panel by Edgar Degas, a painting of dancers created between 1879-80, previously unpublished, is an exciting discovery. Danseuses et contrebasse (est. $400,000 – 600,000), painted circa 1879-1880, was previously in the possession of the renowned Louisiana collector Hunt Henderson. Henderson amassed an extraordinary collection of works by Monet, Renoir and Picasso, and particularly of Degas, whose mother was from New Orleans.
The sale also includes a fascinating group of sculptures by Auguste Rodin, the father of modern sculpture. This is led by an exceptional cast of Pierre de Wiessant (est. $200,000 – 300,000), one of the Burghers of Calais group, and Iris (est. $150,000-200,000), an extraordinary sculpture which was hugely influential and inspired the work of Marcel Duchamp, Willem de Kooning and Francis Bacon, among others.
“Bonhams is honored to present two exceptional Henry Moore bronzes from Lauren Bacall’s collection. The works demonstrate again the power of a dialogue between a collector and an artist. Additionally, the rediscovered Degas, an important Pissarro oil, and a group of Rodins presenting all facets of his output, will offer great opportunities for collectors and connoisseurs,” says Tanya Wells, Director and Head of Sales of the Impressionist and Modern Art department at Bonhams New York.
The catalog for the Nov 4 Impressionist & Modern Art sale can be viewed online at http://www.bonhams.com/auctions/21799/.