A defining image of 20th-century Surrealism, Man Ray’s Le Violon d’Ingres brought $12.4 million at Christie’s New York on Saturday – leaping high above the previous record price for a photograph sold at auction. The original image was part of the Surrealist World of Rosalind Gersten Jacobs and Melvin Jacobs sale which brought over $42.3 million total for the couple's collection.
Based on Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres' Baigneuse de Valpinçon, Man Ray's black-and-white photograph of a seated female nude tranfroms her back into a violin with the addition of superimposed f-holes.
The famous image, estimated to bring at least $5 million, hammered down for $10.5 million after a bidding battle, ultimately selling for $12.4 million after fees. The result was three times higher than the previous record for a photograph, previously set by Andreas Gursky‘s Rhein II, which sold for $4.3 million in 2011 at Christie’s New York.
Created in 1924, Man Ray's photo captures his then-lover Alice Prin, known as the Queen of Montparnasse or as Kiki de Montparnasse. She was a popular muse for many male avant-garde artists of the 1920s, including the Japanese artist Tsuguharu Foujita, whose Reclining Nude (the Nude Portrait of Kiki) also celebrated her.