Edouard Manet (1832 -1883), Le Printemps, oil on canvas,29 1/8x 20 ¼ in. (74 x 51.5 cm.), painted in 1881. Estimate: $25 -35 million. Image courtesy of Christie’s Images Ltd
NEW YORK –Christie’s auction house is at it again. On November 5, 2014, the auction house will present for sale acclaimed Le Printemps by Edouard Manet. The painting which has been on loan for the last two decades at the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C is estimated at $25 -35 million.
Le Printemps is one the surprises Christie’s art auction has for collectors during the Fall auction season. This masterwork comes completely fresh to the market, having remained in the same collection for over a century. It highlights Christie’s auction Evening Sale of Impressionist and Modern Art that will be he held in New York.
The proceed from the sale of Le Printemps will benefit a private American foundation supporting environmental, public health and other charitable causes.
There is great excitement at Christie’s auction that another masterwork by a famous artist is to auctioned by the auction house. Brooke Lampley, Head of Impressionist and Modern Art comments, “On the heels of the fantastic traveling exhibition Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity, of which works by Manet were a keystone, we are delighted to have been entrusted with the sale of Le Printemps. This painting is by the first artist of the modern era, encapsulating all major themes of the early modern period, from nature and femininity to society and fashion. One of his best known and most widely reproduced works, Le Printemps exemplifies the revolutionary style that Manet embraced.”
Manet was one of the leaders and most celebrated members of the impressionist movement. Although well-known for his landscape paintings, Manet was also an amazing portraitist. From the mid-1860s, Manet had become famous as an important master of portraiture among the practitioners of “New Painting,” radically transforming its scope to embrace a dialogue between the traditional canon of art history and contemporary Belle Époque Paris.
Le Printemps is the portrait of the actress Jeanne Demarsy cast as an allegory of spring, a theme artists embraced since antiquity. Executed in the artist’s ground-breaking painterly style and in a vanguard setting, the subject is posed in profile, a posture mimetic of Goya and early Renaissance portraits of young noblewomen.
Manet’s treatment of Jeanne evokes the arrival of spring. From Jeanne’s specially designed flowered dress, her lacy parasol, her bonnet regaled with blossoms, and the profuse verdant foliage of rhododendrons he painted behind her, the painting is a breath of fresh air.
The appearance of Le Printemps in the art market is a big deal. Besides the fact that it is a fantastic painting, it also has a fascinating history. It was first exhibited at the Paris Salon of 1882, along with Un bar aux Folies-Bergère–the supreme masterpiece of Manet’s oeuvre. Although the official Salon system in France previously thwarted Manet’s hopes and plans for public success, recognition, and acceptance throughout his career, Le Printemps and Un bar aux Folies-Bergère put him on the pedestal of greatness. The submission of these two paintings, only a year before the artist’s premature death, brought him recognition and redefined Manet’s legacy. The works were enthusiastically received and led to a wide-spread call for reproduced images of both.
Of the four seasons, Manet completed only Le Printemps and L’Automne, Musée des Beaux-Arts of Nancy. It is no wonder that Adrien Meyer, International Director at Christie’s auction house cannot hide his excitement. “In this breathtaking painting Manet depicts a coquettish but self- assured Jeanne Demarsy as Spring. His distinguished use of black anchors the painting and emphasizes Jeanne’s fragility. Manet projects in this masterpiece an idea of the modern woman, feminine and free, attracting yet deflecting the gaze of the viewer. Le Printemps is one of the last museum-quality works by Manet to come to auction. When again will the market offer a picture that truly made Impressionist history?”
Le Printemps has a long provenance. The painting’s first owner was Manet’s friend Antonin Proust. A journalist, Proust who had suggested the theme of the four seasons to Manet, acquired the painting in 1883. By 1902, the painting had entered the holdings of the important Impressionist collector J. B. Faure, the famed operatic baritone, who was an avid collector and great patron of Manet. In 1907, the dealer Durand-Ruel acquired the painting from Faure and shipped it to his New York gallery, from which it was purchased in 1909, having remained ever since in private hands.
Louis de Fourcade, “Le Gaulois,” 4 May 1882 (about Le Printemps)
Louis de Fourcade, “Le Gaulois,” 4 May 1882 (about Le Printemps).
Maurice du Seigneur, “L’Artiste,” 1 June 1882 (about Le Printemps)