December 17, 2014 / 5:03 PM / in 3 years

'Shimmering' Cezanne to heat up art auction, Christie's says

A Christie's staff member poses for a photograph next to "Vue sur L'Estaque et Le Chateau d'If" by Paul Cezanne in London December 17, 2014.Paul Hackett

LONDON (Reuters) - A "shimmering" Paul Cezanne painting of the Mediterranean with a castle in the background is expected to attract the big-money buyers at a February auction that includes works by Modigliani, Giacometti and Picasso, Christie's said on Wednesday.

The Cezanne work, "Vue sur L'Estaque et Le Chateau d'If", which he painted in 1883-85 from an apartment overlooking Marseille harbour, will be auctioned on Feb. 4.

"This is a spectacular image, it's got the heat of the south of France, it's got the shimmering quality of Cezanne," Jay Vincze, head of Impressionist and Modern art at Christie's London, said.

The canvas comes from the collection of the late British industrialist Samuel Courtauld and is estimated at 8-12 million pounds ($12.6-$18.9 million), Christie's said, adding that the work is on display at its London showroom through Dec. 23.

With Cezanne's "The Card Players" generally ranked as the most expensive painting ever sold, with an unconfirmed but widely reported price of $250 million, the landscape is certain to spark huge interest, Vincze said.

"There's a lot of demand out there for the best of the best," he said, noting that the market had greatly expanded beyond the traditional buyers in Europe and the United States.

Much of the demand seen in auction rooms has been from Asian buyers, eager to snap up works by masters such as Cezanne, Van Gogh or Monet.

A Christie's staff member poses for a photograph next to "Vue sur L'Estaque et Le Chateau d'If" by Paul Cezanne in London December 17, 2014.Paul Hackett

The Cezanne should have strong appeal because it is rare for one of the works that he painted in his Estaque apartment to come to market.

This one has the added value of provenance from the collection assembled by Courtauld, most of whose other works by Cezanne form the core of the Courtauld Gallery in London.

A Christie's staff member poses for a photograph next to "Vue sur L'Estaque et Le Chateau d'If" by Paul Cezanne in London December 17, 2014.Paul Hackett

"When you consider some of the still lifes and landscapes that have come to auction in the last 15 years this certainly ranks up there," Vincze said

Christie's had announced previously that its February sale would consist in part of the collection of an unnamed "European collector" that includes works by Modigliani, Miro, Magritte, Delvaux, Picasso, Moore, Fontana and others.

A Francis Bacon "Seated Figure (Red Cardinal)" from the same collection was sold in New York in November for $45 million, Christie's said.

($1 = 0.6363 pounds)

(This version of the story removes an erroneous reference to "Card Players" selling at auction in paragraph five.)

Editing by Alison Williams

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