In the Asian art market, the appetite for masterpieces of Western modern and contemporary art has proliferated in recent years in Hong Kong – setting record prices at auctions. This trend has spread north to mainland China.

During this season’s Beijing auction week, China Guardian hosted its first Impressionist and modern art Evening sale on November 28. The five oil paintings on offer were created by world-renowned masters, including Monet, Picasso, Pissarro and Cézanne. All the works have been sold and have accumulated a total sales of 239.7 million RMB (approximately $ 37.5 million).

Among them, that of Monet Water lily pond was the most expensive lot and sold for 154.1 million RMB (approximately $ 24.1 million). He broke the record previously set by German abstract artist Richter for the most expensive Western art in mainland China.

Lot 2048 | Claude Monet | Water lily pond, rosebushes, Oil on canvas

Created in 1913
73x100cm
Provenance (modified by the value):

  • Galerie Durand-Ruel, Paris (acquired from the artist on January 23, 1919)
  • Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from him in 1919 and at least until 1949)
  • Private collection, Switzerland (acquired about 1970)
  • Baron Chollet, Switzerland (by descent from above)
  • Thomas Gibson, London (possibly on consignment)
  • Acquired from it by the current owner on March 12, 1991
  • Sotheby’s New York, Impressionism and Modern Art Evening Sale (May 5, 2015), Lot 47, sold for US $ 20.4 million
  • Private collection (acquired from the above sale)

Quote on request

Hammer price: 134,000,000 RMB

Sold: 154 100,000 RMB (approximately $ 24.1 million)

The auctioneer launched the auction at RMB 90 million. After 10 offers, the hammer fell to 134 million RMB. In the end, it was sold for 154.1 million RMB (approximately $ 24.1 million) with a buyer’s premium, which set the new record for Western art in mainland China.

China Guardian held the Exhibition promoting the impressionist masters during the spring season of this year and presented western paintings to collectors. Most of the paintings in the exhibition have not been auctioned. German abstract artist Richter’s Columns painting (1968) was sold for 12.5 million US dollars, which set a record for Western art in mainland China.

This Water lily pond, rosebushes The painting was auctioned at Sotheby’s New York in 2015. It was sold for US $ 20.4 million with a buyer’s premium.

Richter’s Columns (1968) was the former record holder for Western art sold in Mainland China

Monet bottom left section Water lily pond, rosebushes The painting

Monet central section Water lily pond, rosebushes The painting

Monet’s painting of water lilies was created in 1913, and represents the artist at the height of his mature style.

He represented his gardens in Giverny, north-west of Paris. It was one of the artist’s most personal and famous subjects. It was also one of three canvases painted by Monet from this particular vantage point, which overlooks an arched trellis covered with red and pink roses reflecting in the water.

Another work from this tripartite series, Les Arceaux Fleuris, Giverny, is part of the permanent collection of the Phoenix Art Museum, Arizona. Thanks to Monet’s energetic but intimate representation of flora, water, sky and light, one is immersed in this landscape, filled with a sense of tranquility on a summer day in the north of the France.

Monet was inspired by his Giverny gardens during his later years

Monet’s Les Arceaux Fleuris, Giverny is part of the collection of the Phoenix Art Museum

View of the gardens of Giverny


Lot 2047 | Claude Monet | The Staircase, Oil on canvas

Established in 1878
61x50cm
Provenance (modified by the value):

  • Catholina Lambert, Paterson, New Jersey
  • Durand-Ruel Galleries, New York (acquired from him on May 16, 1895 and until 1949)
  • Private collection, Switzerland (around 1959); sale, Christie’s, London, November 28, 1994, Lot 8
  • Edgar M. Bronfman, New York (acquired in the above sale)
  • Christie’s New York, Impressionism and Modern Art Evening Sale (May 6, 2014), Lot 19, sold for US $ 3.5 million
  • Private collection (acquired from the above sale)

Estimate: 25,000,000 RMB – 35,000,000

Hammer price: 25,000,000 RMB

Sold: 28,750,000 RMB (approximately US $ 4.5 million)

In 2014, The Staircase (Stairs) was sold at Christie’s New York. His estimate was $ 1.5-2.5 million and was sold for $ 3.5 million (about RMB 22.3 million).

The hammer price for this painting was similar to its sale in New York seven years ago, which was perhaps a strategy to attract more mainland collectors to purchase Impressionist and modern art.

Monet painted The Staircase during the very first months he spent in Vétheuil, north-west of Paris. He and his family lived from August 1878 to December 1881. It was a defining moment of personal and professional transformation for the artist.

After moving to Vétheuil, Monet completely abandoned the modern urban scenes that dominated his early paintings. Instead, he began to focus on capturing aspects of nature and used a new technique that laid the foundation for his later important production.


Lot 2046 | Pablo Picasso | Head of a Woman with a Hat, Oil on canvas

Established in 1965
60x50cm
Origin:

  • Galerie Louise Leiris (Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler), Paris
  • Kootz Gallery, New York
  • Spanierman Gallery, LLC, New York
  • Acquired by the previous owner on February 17, 2004
  • Christie’s New York Evening Sale, Impressionism and Modern Art (November 5, 2013), Lot 34
  • Private collection (acquired from the above sale)

Estimate: 20,000,000 RMB – 30,000,000

Hammer price: 20,500,000 RMB

Sold: 23,575,000 RMB (approximately US $ 3.6 million)

Earlier in October, Picasso Crouching woman (1954) the painting sold for US $ 24.6 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. It became the highest price ever for a work of art by Picasso in Asia.

During this Beijing sale, Picasso Head of a Woman in a Hat was sold for 23.5 million RMB (about 3.6 million dollars). The protagonist of the two paintings represents Jacqueline Roque, last lover and wife of Picasso. Jacqueline has become the most frequent and oldest subject of Picasso’s career, appearing in over 400 portraits surpassing her husband’s previous lovers like Françoise Gilot and Marie-Thérèse Walter.

Picasso’s fascination with female headgear dates back to the 1930s, when he saw them as a representation of a woman’s inner thoughts. In Head of a Woman in a Hat, the golden hat stands out against a bright blue background. The wide, soft brim blocks out the summer heat and casts a shadow over Jacqueline’s face, implying a relaxed and happy moment in the south of France.

that of Picasso Crouching woman (1954) was the highest price ever for a work of art by Picasso in Asia

Pablo and Jacqueline


Lot 2049 | Camille Pissarro | Le Lavoir de Bazincourt, Oil on canvas

Established in 1884
65x54cm
Origin
(Modified by Value):

  • Galerie Durand-Ruel et Cie., Paris (acquired from the artist on October 31, 1884)
  • Frédéric Mallet, Paris (acquired from the above on January 25, 1919)
  • Galerie Georges Petit Paris (May 20, 1920, lot 103) Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris (around December 1927)
  • George Boner, Paris (around 1938)
  • Yvonne Boveri-Boner, Switzerland (acquired by descent)
  • Private collection, United States (acquired by descent)
  • Christie’s New York, Impressionism and Modern Art Evening Sale (May 6, 2014), Lot 54, sold for US $ 2.5 million
  • Private collection (acquired from the above sale)

Estimate: 18,000,000 RMB – 28,000,000

Hammer price: 18,000,000 RMB

Sold: 20,700,000 RMB (approximately US $ 3.2 million)


Lot 2050 | Paul Cézanne | Portrait, Oil on canvas

Created in 1866-1867
65x54cm
Origin
(Modified by Value):

  • Ambroise Vollard, Paris
  • Bernheim-Jeune Gallery, Paris
  • Auguste Pellerin, Paris, which acquired from him on December 6, 1910
  • Jean-Victor Pellerin, Paris, by descent from above
  • Acquired from it by the current owner
  • Christie’s London, Impressionism and Modern Art Evening Sale (February 2, 2016), Lot 46, Sold for £ 1.2million
  • Private collection (acquired from the above sale)

Estimate: 11,000,000 RMB – 18,000,000

Hammer price: 11,000,000 RMB

Sold: 12,650,000 RMB (approximately US $ 1.9 million)


Summary of the auction:

Auction House: China Guardian Beijing

Sale: Evening sale of impressionist and modern art

Date: November 28, 2021

Number of lots: 5

Sale rate: 100%

Sale total: 239,775,000 RMB (about 37.5 million US dollars)

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