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Paris and its collections

[02 Nov 2017]

Collection sales are big occasions. On the one hand they supply the market with sets of coherent and high quality works, and on the other hand, each collection has a particular story… often one that adds more depth and humanity to the passion involved in buying art …

On 20 and 21 October, Christie’s successfully sold one of the finest French private collections, that of Jean-François and Marie-Aline Prat, for a grand total of 39.5 million euros. This fabulous collection of 200 works – mainly 20th century art – included important works by Polke, Dubuffet, Yves Klein, Joan Miro, Max Ernst and Simon Hantaï, all carefully selected by the Prat couple over more than 20 years. The sale also contained an important work by Jean-Michel BASQUIAT, « Jim Crow », the sort of work that is rarely seen at Parisian sales because usually assigned to prestige sales in New York. Jim Crow fetched €15 million ($17.68 million), i.e the 10th best result in French Fine Art auction history.

In the coming weeks, a number of other exceptional collections are coming to auction in France. Indeed, while New York hosts its prestigious Post-war & Contemporary Art sales, Paris will be an interesting alternative with several superb sales of collections that Artprice previews below.

Collection of Photographs (Sotheby’s Paris 10 November)

Sotheby’s is remaining discreet about the provenance of the 100 photographs to be sold on 10 November next. The sale is advertised as an “Important European Collection of Photographs” without any further details. The appeal of the sale is therefore less related to provenance prestige than to the overall coherence of the works offered and is likely to attract some of the world’s keenest collectors of the genre: dozens of works focus on the sensuality of flowers and nudes and are signed by Mapplethorpe, Penn, Newton, Larry Clark, Araki, Lee Friedlander, Weston and Horst. There are also landscapes, both natural and urban, which bear witness to the exceptional eye of the “European” collector who brought together superb photos by Anselm Adams, Josef Sudek and Harry Callahan. In short, a dense collection of excellent quality works by legendary 20th and 21st century photographers, cleverly scheduled during Paris’s Photography Month.

Jacques Grange Collection (Sotheby’s Paris, 21-22 November)

His clients have included Paloma Picasso, Sofia Coppola, Princess Caroline of Hanover, Pierre Bergé and Yves Saint Laurent, among others. The famous French interior designer Jacques Grange has always worked for art-loving customers and has always managed to present art collections in the best possible settings. His talent has reached a level of excellence that allows works in a given collection to resonate with each other without any concessions to modish considerations. According to his close collaborator, Peter Bassebon, Jacques Grange personifies “the art of staging artists together”.

Sotheby’s will be offering nearly 150 items from his personal collection on 21 and 22 November. A cosmopolitan collection, consistent with his style. It includes works by Hockney, Giacometti, Irving Penn, Warhol, Picasso, Poliakoff, Dubuffet, Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Frank, Hector Guimard, Fernand Léger, Donald Judd or Yves Tanguy. Works with often prestigious provenances: André Breton, Paul Eluard, René Crevel, Pierre Matisse, André Breton, Maurice Thorez, Marie-Laure de Noailles and Yves Saint Laurent, among others. The sale promises to attract top international collectors, especially as Sotheby’s is promoting it by exhibiting the works in Hong Kong, London and New York before the sale.

Vérité Collection (Christie’s, Paris, 21 November)

Hundreds of outstanding works from Africa, Oceania and North America from the Vérité collection have been sold since 2006. The treasures collected by Pierre, Suzanne and their son, Claude Vérité have inspired ardent bidding in the past. About 200 lots will be auctioned on 21 November at Christie’s: Senufo doors, Dogon doorlocks, Bamana headcrests and Nafana and Dan Masks… The sale promises to attract all the major collectors of traditional art, not just because the provenance is impeccable, but also because the Vérité collection is running out…

Petiet collection (Ader Nordmann, Paris, 25-26 November)

Matisse, Derain, Maillol, Laurens, Laboureur, Laurencin Dufy, Fujita, Daumier, Delacroix, Corot, Bresdin, Villon, Renoir and the complete Vollard Suite of Pablo PICASSO etchings… in total 622 lots in this fiftieth and final Petiet sale, after 49 sales covering 25 years. The sale has been scheduled over two days, on 25 and 26 November, in the theatrical setting of the Opéra Comique in Paris. It is one of the most anticipated sales of the autumn period. Registration opened more than two months ago for this ‘traditional style’ sale without phones or internet. The highlight of the sale is the entire Vollard suite with all the etchings signed by Pablo Picasso. They are from the exceptional collection of Henri Petiet who bought almost all the editions of Ambroise Vollard’s printed engravings two years after the latter’s death… roughly 31,000 prints in total. This treasure included several complete sets of the Vollard suite, created between 1930 and 1937. Considered the masterpiece of Pablo Picasso’s engraving work, each complete set of the Vollard Suite – comprising 100 prints – is hotly pursued by top museums: the British Museum has one (bought in 2011 from the Petiet collection) as do the National Gallery in Washington, the MoMA in New York and the Picasso Museum in Paris. The Suite is estimated at between 1.5 and 2 million euros despite the fact that the world record for this ensemble is over 3 million euros (La Suite Vollard, June 2013 at Sotheby’s London). Overall, the estimates given for this last Petiet sale have been set deliberately low to attract a maximum number of bidders.


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