NEW YORK – Last night Claude Monet’s 1890 painting Meules – an icon of Impressionism from the artist’s acclaimed Haystacks series – sold for an astounding $110.7 million at Sotheby’s. It is a new world auction record for any work by Monet and the first Impressionist work ever to cross the $100 million threshold at auction. Underscoring the importance of this masterpiece, Meules also became the 9th-most-expensive work ever sold at auction.
Meules led a group of eight outstanding Impressionist works on offer from an Important Private Collection, all of which were sold for a combined total of $129.5 million. A portion of the proceeds from the sale of the collection will significantly benefit two world-renowned, not-for-profit institutions in the fields of science and music.
August Uribe, Sotheby’s Head of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York, commented: “It was a fantastic night for classic Impressionist art, highlighted of course by the extraordinary work by Claude Monet that made auction history both for the artist and for any Impressionist work of art. One of the most recognizable images in art history, Monet’s Haystacks series has long served as an inspiration to countless artists since its creation in the early 1890s. It was a true honor to present Meules among a remarkable group of Impressionist pictures emerging from the same distinguished private collection – one of several important collections offered tonight that propelled our results.”
Helena Newman, Sotheby’s Worldwide Head of Impressionist & Modern Art, said: “Tonight we saw a great depth of impassioned bidding from around the globe, fueled by works long-cherished in private collections. Nearly two-thirds of the lots offered tonight had never before appeared at auction, and the market responded enthusiastically – helping us to achieve our highest total since 2015, and our second consecutive evening sale with a sell-through rate over 90%. With the record-breaking Monet leading the charge, the Impressionist and Modern market is as strong as it has ever been in my more than 30 years in this business.”
Regarded as the finest example from this celebrated series, the radiant canvas was one of only four Haystacks pictures to come to auction this century, and one of only eight remaining in private hands. Of the 25 canvases that the artist created in the early 1890s, the other 17 works reside in museum collections, including six in the collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. The work is further distinguished by its illustrious provenance, having been acquired by wealthy Chicago socialites and fervent collectors of Impressionist works, Mr. and Mrs. Potter Palmer, directly from the artist’s dealer in the 1890s.
Pablo Picasso’s 1962 painting Femme au chien also achieved an important milestone, selling for $54.9 million. The price represents a new world auction record for a 1960s work by the artist. Julian Dawes, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sales in New York, commented: “Picasso dedicated an entire month in 1962 to painting Femme au chien, a portrait of his new wife Jacqueline and his beloved Afghan hound – a sign that the work was of great personal value to him. The spectacular canvas demonstrates the artist’s full creative force in the later years of his life, and tonight the market affirmed that the greatest works produced in the 1960s are considered equal to the finest created throughout his career. From a fantastic work on paper from 1906 to our two 1960s canvases, Picasso proved a driving force throughout our sale tonight and reaffirmed the enduring strength of his market.”
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