From Bonhams New York:
The May 15 sale of Impressionist and Modern Art achieved $4,042,000 (US) with outstanding sell-through rates. The top lot of the sale was “Nos deux portraits” by James Ensor (1860–1949), painted circa 1905, which realized $396,500.
Caitlyn Pickens, Head of Sale, Impressionist and Modern Art, commented: “We are thrilled with the exceptional sell-through rates of 92 percent by lot and 97 percent by value, the highest ever achieved for an Impressionist and Modern Art sale at Bonhams New York. The strong results indicate continued demand for impressionist and modern works with important provenance and reaffirm the market is present and more international than ever. There was high energy throughout the auction, with many works that drew intense competition and sold well over their estimates, which included Pierre Eugène Montézin’s ‘Sur les bords du ruisseau,’ Marc Chagall’s ‘Le bouquet au pot vert,’ and Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita’s ‘Nu aux bras levés (La petite Cariatide à la pâquerette)’”.
About “Nos deux portraits”
Distinguished by its important early provenance and extensive exhibition history, “Nos deux portraits” is a rare double portrait of the artist and his close companion Augusta Boogaerts. This work was exhibited in Ensor’s first retrospective exhibition in 1929 at the Palais des Beaux-Arts in Brussels and has since been exhibited throughout Europe and North America. The first owner of “Nos deux portraits” was Augusta Boogaerts herself.
“Nos deux portraits” is one of four portraits Ensor painted of Augusta. She met Ensor in 1888 while working for his family’s business and remained his close companion for over sixty years. Ensor’s family never approved of the relationship and the two never married or lived together. Instead, Augusta took on the role of an unofficial business and studio manager. She supervised Ensor’s production and arranged many of his still-lifes composed of trinkets, shells, and skulls. Ensor wrote Augusta’s initials, A.B., in his sketchbook, where he reproduced all his paintings, further indicating that she had enormous influence over his still-life compositions.
Further highlights in the sale were:
Marc Chagall (1887–1985), “Le bouquet au pot vert,” achieved $360,500 after an estimate of $150,000–$250,000.
Bernard Buffet (1928–1999), “Branches de cerisiers en fleurs,” achieved $225,000 after an estimate of $100,000–$150,000.
Marino Marini (1901–1980), “Acrobati e cavallo” achieved $150,000 after an estimate of $100,000–$150,000.
Pierre Eugène Montézin (1874–1946), “Sur les bords du ruisseau,” achieved $93,750 after an estimate of $15,000–$20,000.
For more information about fine art auctions at Bonhams, please visit bonhams.com.