Amedeo Modigliani, Jeune homme assis, les mains croisées sur less genoux, 1918
The unpredictable fickleness of the art world is generally balanced out by sudden bursts of wild enthusiasm for artists who are no longer counted amongst the living. And of late, that enthusiasm has been reserved in great part for the tragic modernist Amedeo Modigliani, who died aged just 36 in 1920 – and whose debauched lifestyle likely kept him from matching the success of his friend and rival Picasso.
He’s making up for it a century later, as last year ArtNet called him a “rock star,” and a 2018 episode of Keeping Up With The Kardashians excitedly documented Kourtney’s pursuit of authentication for what she believed was a real Modigliani (it was). That same year, his Nu couché (sur le côté gauche) sold for $157.2 million.
So the excitement will be prodigious at Sotheby’s London this summer, as Modi’s rare 1918 Jeune homme assis, les mains croisées sur less genoux goes up for auction, with an estimate of between $15 and $30 million. By that time, the artist had retreated from the decadence of Paris to the serenity of Provence, hoping to regain his health, while painting a series of haunting portraits, including this one of a young local boy.
Joan Miró, Peinture (L’Air), 1938
James Mackie, Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department, says of the painting, “This intimate portrait presents an unidentified young model with a sense of empathy, poignancy and serene beauty characteristic of the artist’s most accomplished paintings. The work was bought directly from the artist’s dealer Léopold Zborowski in 1927, and has been in the same family collection since then. For decades it has only been published as a black and white image, and will now emerge in its full splendor at auction this month.”
“These outstanding works have remained unseen for over half a century in their respective private collections,” enthuses Helena Newman, Worldwide Head of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department, “and epitomize quality and freshness, both critical criteria for today’s global collectors. They will be offered alongside defining examples from landmark moments of Impressionism and Modern Art.”
Claude Monet, Nymphéas, 1908