Manet's 'Le Printemps' poised to reach record auction price

Fri Aug 1, 2014 4:08pm EDT
 
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Edouard Manet's 1881 celebrated portrait "Le Printemps," which has been owned by the same family for a century, will be auctioned for the first time this year and could fetch up to $35 million, Christie's auction house said on Friday.

The rare profile painting of the young Parisian actress Jeanne Demarsy, one of Manet's most famous works, will be among the highlights of Christie's Impressionist and Modern Art sale in New York on November 5.

The sale follows Christie's best spring auctions in years and a boom in the global art and antique market - sales last year rose 8 percent to $65.9 billion, the highest level since 2007, according to the latest report from the European Fine Art Foundation.

If sold for $35 million, the high pre-sale estimate, "Le Printemps" would surpass the record $33.2 million paid for Manet's "Self Portrait with a Palette" in London four years ago.

Adrien Meyer, international director at Christie's, said the painting is one of the last museum-quality works by Manet to come to auction.

"The way it is painted and the way the woman stands out from the painting is breathtaking," he said.

Manet is considered one of the giants of Impressionism and was known for his portraits. "Le Printemps," which depicts Demarsy as an allegory of spring wearing a floral outfit, gloves, bonnet and lace-edged parasol against a background of rhododendrons, is considered among his best known and most widely-produced works.

It is one of two paintings, along with "Un bar aux Folies-Bergere" the artist submitted to the Paris Exhibition of 1882 that led to success and recognition. "Le Printemps" has had only a few owners, including the unnamed American family selling it after a century of ownership.   Continued...

 
A Christie's employee looks at Edouard Manet's 1881 celebrated portrait "Le Printemps," at Christie's in New York August 1, 2014.   REUTERS/Mike Segar