'Bouquet de roses' by budding artist Gauguin sold for €1,131,644 (£902,500)
'Les oliviers de Cagnes', showing the olive groves at Renoir's South of France villa sold for €559,866 (£446,500)
Salvador Dali bronze 'Lady Godiva avec papillons' sold for €379,304 (£302,500)
Bouquet de roses, a previously unknown oil on canvas painting by Paul Gauguin (French, 1848-1903), was the delight of the afternoon Impressionist and Modern Art sale at Bonhams yesterday (23rd June) as it sold for €1,131,644 (£902,500).
Bouquet de roses is signed 'P Gauguin 84' and shows a bunch of sunny yellow roses. The painting came to Bonhams from a private collection in Switzerland. Having been held in private collections since its creation, the work was previously unseen even by Gauguin scholars. The painting now enters the art market in full bloom.
Paul Gauguin was a post-impressionist artist whose work influenced art giants Picasso and Matisse and is among the most celebrated of the modern masters. However, Gauguin only began his career as an artist after numerous other professions, including the French Navy, stock broking and tarpaulin sales. Gauguin's artwork only truly gained popularity and renown after his death.
The work was painted in 1884 when the artist was 36 years of age and still working as a successful Parisian stock broker. That year saw a major financial crisis affecting the French economy and as such, Gauguin, his Danish wife and their five children left their life in Paris for Rouen. The still life of flowers was, as ever, a popular commercial subject at the time and Bouquet de roses perhaps shows an attempt by Gauguin to earn a living from his art.
Les oliviers de Cagnes by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (French, 1841-1919) was another of the sale highlights. A bidder in the saleroom fended off interest from the telephones to secure the work for €559,866 (£446,500). The work dates from a period of artistic fruition for Renoir who was considered, by the early 20th century, as one of the great artists of the Impressionist movement.
It was painted in 1909 at Renoir's home, 'Les Collettes', in the South of France. In 1907 Renoir bought the farm which stood on a hillside above the medieval town of Cagnes on the Mediterranean coast, where he was captivated with the beauty of his new rural surroundings. This move has been credited with inspiring the artist's joyful return to landscape painting.
A shining bronze Salvador Dali sculpture of Lady Godiva, riding naked on her noble steed, sold for €379,304 (£302,500). The sale of Lady Godiva avec papillons follows the success of another Salvador Dali bronze, Elephant de Triomphe, which Bonhams sold for £446,500 in February this year, setting a new world record price for a bronze by the artist.
Lady Godiva was an 11th-century Anglo-Saxon noblewoman and wife of Leofric, Earl of Mercia, who ruled over the Coventry area. The couple were generous benefactors to the religious houses and their names are commemorated in charters and records from the Doomsday book.
According to a legend, Lady Godiva took pity on the people of Coventry, who were suffering under the Earl's oppressive taxes. She appealed repeatedly to her husband to remove the tolls. Weary of her pleas, he proclaimed he would grant her wish if she rode naked through the city. Taking him at his word, she ordered all inhabitants of Coventry to stay indoors and shutter their windows and rode through the streets of the city, covered only by her long hair. The legend of the nude ride is first recorded two centuries after the Lady Godiva lived and is testament to how adored she was by her subjects for generations.
India Phillips, Director of Impressionist Art at Bonhams said; "We are delighted with today's sale result. The new saleroom was full of bidders and busy with telephone lines from around the world. We achieved great results across the category. Once again we noted that collectors are looking for fresh-to-the-market Impressionism, Surrealism and works by the Modern masters such as Picasso, Miró and Dali. We look forward to the next sale of Impressionist & Modern Art in New York this November."
Other notable lots included Maternité by Joan Miró (1893-1983) which near doubled its pre-sale estimate to sell for €96,424 (£76,900).
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com