January 13, 2014 / 9:15 AM / 5 years ago

Picasso, Magritte feature in Christie's February auctions

LONDON (Reuters) - A Picasso portrait of his lover and eventual wife Jacqueline Roque and a canvas by Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte are among the star attractions of February auctions that Christie’s said on Monday could net almost $380 million.

Workers pose with Pablo Picasso's "Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil", a portrait of his lover Jacqueline Roque painted in 1955, at Christie's auction house in London January 13, 2014. REUTERS/Andrew Winning

Christie’s estimated that those works and others to be sold in four auctions on February 4-5 and a fifth on February 7 in London could raise between 156.7 million and 228.3 million pounds ($260 million-$376 million).

The Picasso, entitled “Femme au costume turc dans un fauteuil” (Woman in a Turkish costume seated in a chair), 1955, is valued at 15-20 million pounds and is on sale for the first time in 55 years, Christie’s said in a press release.

The painting is one of a small group of portraits by Pablo Picasso showing Roque in the costume of an “odalisque”, a woman of the harem. It is “a colorful, sexually charged celebration of Jacqueline, whom Picasso would marry six years later and who would become one of the most important muses of the artist’s life”, the release said.

Magritte’s “Les chasseurs au bord de la nuit” (The hunters at the edge of night), 1928, was part of an exhibition of the painter’s works at the Museum of Modern Art in New York and has an estimated value of 6-9 million pounds, Christie’s said.

The Picasso is the centerpiece of an Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Auction on February 4 while the Magritte is in The Art of The Surreal Auction on the same day.

“This stellar sale presents international collectors and institutions with rare opportunities to acquire exceptional works with illustrious provenance by key impressionist and modern masters,” Jay Vincze, Christie’s International Director and head of its Impressionist and Modern Art Department, said in the release.

“The global market for this category continues to expand and deepen year on year, underpinned by passion for the beauty of the period and an increasingly far-reaching appreciation and understanding of the importance of late 19th century and early 20th century art movements.”

The surrealist auction is comprised of 54 lots. In addition to the Magritte it features Joan Miro’s “Femmes et oiseaux” (Women and Birds), 1968, estimated to be worth 4-7 million pounds, and Carlo Carra’s “Solitudine” (Solitude), with an estimated value of 2.5-3.5 million pounds.

Also up for grabs is Magritte’s “Le regard interieur” (The inner gaze), from the collection of the late Valerie Eliot, widow of poet T.S. Eliot, with an estimated value of 500,000-700,000 pounds.

“Twenty-five years on from holding the inaugural standalone Dada and Surrealism sale and 14 years since Christie’s established its annual auction in the field, the global demand for this pioneering movement continues to go from strength to strength,” Olivier Camu, Christie’s deputy chairman for Impressionist and Modern Art, said in the release.

The impressionist auction features works from collections including Modern Masters: Works from an Important Private Swiss Collection. It includes Juan Gris’s “Nature morte à la nappe à carreaux” (Still life with checquered tablecloth), 1915, valued at 12-18 million pounds, and Piet Mondrian’s “Composition No. 2 with Blue and Yellow”, 1930, estimated at 8-12 million pounds.

Other works in the sale include Alberto Giacometti’s “Trois hommes qui marchent I” (Three men walking I), 1948-1950, valued at 6.2-8 million pounds; “Les cylindres colores” (The colored cylinders), 1918, by Fernand Léger, formerly in the collection of Louis Carre, the dealer who was closely associated with the artist, estimated at 5-7 million pounds; and Claude Monet’s “L’Eglise de Varengeville; soleil couchant” (The Church of Varengeville; at sunset) 1882, estimated at 4-7 million.

($1 = 0.6066 British pounds)

Editing by Elizabeth Piper

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