With no less than three fairs dedicated to drawing in Paris, the French capital becomes the drawing market’s capital this week, attracting major collectors, museum curators and of course a large public of drawing aficionados. The fairs represent an important fixture in the global art calendar with two taking place in the Bourse district (Salon du dessin 22 – 27 March and the Salon DDESSIN (24 – 26 March) and another in the Marais district (Drawing Now). In addition to the thousands of drawings on offer at the fairs, a number of Parisian auctioneers will be hosting sales dedicated to this fascinating medium, with several aimed specifically at collectors who make the trip to Paris.
The auction sales programmed for this very busy week start with a selection of Old and Modern drawings at Millon on 20 March. Two days later (22 March) there will be sales at Christie’s and Artcurial with the latter selling works from Gaston Delestre’s collection including dozens of drawings by Antoine-Jean Gros and Jean-Baptiste Delestre, an Etudes pour un naufragé du « Radeau de la Méduse » by Théodore Géricault (estimated €15,000 – €25,000), a sketch by Theodore Rousseau estimated between €600 – €1,000 (Le Mont Blanc vu du col de la Faucille) and a superb sanguine of a climbing horse by Eugène Delacroix (estimated €4,000 – €6,000).
On 23 March, Sotheby’s will be offering 68 lots, including 14 by Paul Signac, 12 by Picasso, 3 by Toulouse-Lautrec (between €4,000 and €30,000 depending on size and quality) and a superb work by Egon Schiele (estimated €180,000 – €250,000). The star of the sale is an ink Visage by Henri Matisse that had remained in the same private collection for 40 years and which is expected to fetch over a million euros. On 24 March, Ader will be offering a large selection of anonymous drawings for a few hundred euros each alongside a number of recognised signatures including Charles de la Fosse (a student of Le Brun), seascape specialist Nicolas-Marie Ozanne and Théodore Géricault (a horse study from a sketchbook). Piasa is opening its doors all week ahead of an interesting sale on 28 March that will offer works by Charles-François Daubigny, Henri-Joseph Harpignies and Eugene Boudin as well as a delicate Vase de Fleurs et Visage by Odilon Redon (estimated €50,000 – €70,000), a superb study (estimated €90,000 – €120,000) by Gustav Klimt for his Sitzende mit geraffem Rock that hangs in Vienna’s Leopold Museum, and a fluid and delicate drawing by Henri Matisse entitled Nadia’s face (estimated €120,000 – €160,000).
The densest offer in terms of periods, signatures, techniques and price ranges can be found at Christie’s which has organised three sales dedicated to drawings this week. The first, on 22 March is offering 95 Old Master and 19th century drawings including a Tiepolo sanguine of a man’s head in profile (estimated €150,000 – €200,000), a Fragonard black chalk drawing entitled Le baiser à la fumée ou L’occasion (estimated €200,000 – €300,000) and Mannerist Federico Zuccaro’s Deux putti dans les nuées, d’après Titien expected to fetch around €1,000.
The following day, an exceptional sale includes a collection of drawings from Edgar Degas’ studio. These drawings provide insight into the great artists who influenced the Impressionist artist. Studies in the styles of Mantegna, Rembrandt, Perugino, Michelangelo, Poussin, Géricault … a collection of early works, some estimated at less than €5,000 and some expected to fetch 10 times more, like the portrait of the painter’s sister, Thérèse de Gas, painted when Degas was just 26. This session will be immediately followed by another dedicated to Modern works on paper in a very different price range. Degas is once again on the menu, with his charcoal and estompe Danseuse au bouquet expected to fetch between €400,000 and €600,000. As indicated in the sale catalogue, this small masterpiece “was seized in July 1940 by the Nazi authorities from the home of Robert de Rothschild, then deposited at the German Embassy, rue de Lille. In 1951 it was discovered in a closet by the personnel of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs which occupied the premises at the time. However, it was not immediately identified as one of the works taken from Baron de Rothschild and on 29 May 1951 was allocated by the artworks selection committee of the post-war Commission for the Recovery of Artworks to the Drawings Department of the Louvre Museum, and subsequently to the Orsay Museum when it opened in June 1986. Danseuse au bouquet was returned to the descendents of Baron Robert de Rothschild exactly thirty years later, in June 2016.”. The star lot in the sale is a tempera painting on paper, Paysannes au repos, by another equally famous Impressionist, Camille Pissarro. The work was acquired by the important Durand-Ruel gallery in 1891 and subsequently passed on its present owner. Its quality and impeccable provenance could push the work beyond a million dollars, a price threshold that Pissarro has exceeded only three times.