Eighty-five Miro works at Christie’s…

[21 Jan 2014]


Christie’s London sales in early February 2014 will offer no less than 85 works by Joan Miro over three sessions. These Surrealist treasures belong to the Portuguese government which acquired them from a bank in difficulty.The opportunity is sufficiently unique to attract the highest level of interest from Modern art dealers and collectors, especially as it covers Miro’s entire artistic career of 70 years! According to Christie’s, the sale of these works should generate at least £30 million ($49 million) with prices ranging from £10,000 for his early first drawings (roughly $16,000) to around £7m ($11.5m) for his best oil paintings.
In market terms, the timing could not be better: in 2012 Joan MIRO’s works generated an auction total of approximately $135 million, representing a 230% increase over previous years. Indeed, 2012 was an outstanding vintage, with the sale of two record breaking works: Peinture (Etoile Bleue) and Painting Poem which fetched respectively $32.9m and $23.8m in London. 2013 was less spectacular with a best result of $11.79m for a 1945 canvas entitled Femme rêvant de l’évasion (5 February 2013 at Sotheby’s), again in London. The year nevertheless saw 10 other Miro results above the million-dollar threshold. The forthcoming sales on 4 and 5 February 2014 will undoubtedly generate a number of results at these high price levels, although no absolute record has been predicted.

Oil paintings…

Miro’s canvases represent 2% of his auction transactions but generate over 62% of his auction turnover. Christie’s February sales will include two particularly important lots: a 1968 work entitled Femmes et oiseaux (245.2 x 124.6 cm) estimated at £4m – £7m ($6.5m – $11.5m) and a monumental 1953 work, Painting (57 x 500 cm), estimated at £2.5m – £3.5m ($4m – $5.7m).
Billed as the “star lot”, Femmes et oiseaux pays homage to Japanese calligraphy after Miro visited Tokyo and Kyoto for a retrospective exhibition of his work. Women and birds also represent emblematic Miro themes, and are therefore highly prized by collectors. The work is expected to generate a new record for a 1968 painting by the artist. As regards Painting, its dimensions (over 5 metres wide) make it both an exceptional work and a rather difficult piece to place. In effect, his largest works are not necessarily the most expensive. In November 2013, Christie’s sold a 1978 project for a ceramic wall that was even larger (560 cm wide), but the work only fetched $2.45m (Composition [Projet pour un mural de céramique destiné au Wilhelm-Hack-Museum de Ludwigshafen, Allemagne]). However, the “miroglyphs” against a blue background in Painting should be more successful and the work is generally of a better quality than the Composition sold last November.
La Fornarina (After Raphael) is a tribute to Raphael which failed to sell in 1999 against a low estimate of $1.2m. In the upcoming sale, the work (146.5 cm x 114.0 cm) is estimated at three times that price: $3,280,600 – $4,920,900).


Miro’s drawings represent about 6% of his auction transactions and 22% his auction turnover. At its Impressionist & Modern sale / Works on paper, Christie’s will be offering no less than 44 drawings by the artist with prices ranging from £10,000 to £500,000. The theme of the most accomplished among these is once again Femme et oiseau in a well proportioned (100 x 70 cm) mixed-technique work created in 1965. There will also be a work from the same period and with similar dimensions entitled Personnages et oiseau dans la nuit (ink and gouache) carrying a price tag of £160,000 – £220,000 ($262,000 – $360,000). Among the Surreal wonders that the sale is offering, we note lot number 290, an untitled 1934 drawing with a superb biomorphic line on a red background (63 cm x 47 cm). This work is expected to fetch between £90,000 and £120,000 ($147,000 – $197,000), a reasonable price range considering that the record for this type of work (same technique, date and dimensions) was generated at $236,000, on 1 December 2007 at Farsetti for Senza titolo (1934).
Miro’s 85 works will be auctioned on 4 and 5 February in three sales at Christie’s in London. The three sessions are: The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale on 4 February followed by an Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale and an Impressionist and Modern Art Works on Paper Sale on 5 February.