Master crow high above and international records

The highest result with € 620,000 was achieved by a painting by Max Ernst from the year 1953. This was followed by a whole row of six-figure sales: € 275,000 for a double-sided painting by Ernst Wilhelm Nay, a sculpture by Oskar Schlemmer for € 250,000, and € 200,000 each for canvases by Otakar Kubin (Othon Cubine) and Franz Radziwill, whose second picture rose to € 150,000. These were in turn followed by a work on paper by Salvador Dali for € 144,000, a painting by Lesser Ury for € 125,0000, a picture by Christian Schad (€ 106,000) and a gouache by Lesser Ury for € 100,000. With a sale of € 112,000, a pastel by Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz left its estimate far behind: an international record for a pastel work by the artist, who almost solely worked in pastel. A further international record came from a painting by Abel Pann at € 94,000.

620,000 euro: With this result, the 1953 collage and oil on canvas “Mer agitée, soleil, nuage et maître Corbeau avec son fils” by Max Ernst was the highlight of the auction. After the artist’s return from the USA, his central work phase began in France and in 1953 created works of art-historical significance, including the present lot. The museum-quality piece held great importance for Max Ernst, and he kept it in his house in Southern France until his death. It was subsequently passed down through the family by his wife Dorothea Tanning (lot 22, € 500/600,000). A small painting also by Ernst painted in 1957 changed hands for € 94,000 (lot 55, € 60/80,000).

The double-sided painting “In Blockformen” from 1953, revealing Ernst Wilhelm Nay’s renunciation of all figurative forms, was purchased by the Swiss trade for € 275,000 (lot 10, € 180/220,000). The important work “Bauplastik R” from 1919 visualises Oskar Schlemmer’s complete artistic oeuvre in nuce, with his conception of object-based abstraction formulated here. A German collector had to bid to € 250,000 to win the sculpture (lot 19, € 150/200,000).

Otakar Kubin’s (Othon Coubine) canvas “In Gedanken” from the year 1914 was greatly coveted and accordingly hotly fought over, eventually selling to the Czech trade for € 200,000 (lot 30, € 80/120,000). This was also the sum a German collector had to invest to acquire Franz Radziwill’s “Landschaft mit gelben Bäumen” from 1922. The representative, early painting is an impressive manifestation of Radziwill’s examination of the Expressionist painting of his contemporaries (lot 38, € 130/150,000). A later landscape from 1947 sold for € 150,000 to a German collector (lot 39, € 100/120,000).

The 75.5 x 101.3 cm paper work “Tienta en Espana (Epreuve de corrida en Espagne)” by Salvador Dali from 1960 has now moved to the Spanish trade (lot 44, € 80/100,000), whilst Lesser Ury’s “Hochbahnhof Nollendorfplatz von der Bülowstraße aus gesehen, Berlin” from the 1920s has been taken on by a German collector for € 125,000 (lot 100, € 80/120,00). “Das Licht” by Christian Schad from 1920 was acquired by the London trade for € 106,000 (lot 85), and an appealing gouache, “Rue de Mont-Cenis à Montmartre”, painted in 1930 by Maurice Utrillo, far exceeded its estimate of € 35/45,000 to sell for € 100,000 (lot 61).

Stanislaw Ignacy Witkiewicz’s 1938 pastel “Weibliches Portrait” was the subject of fierce struggle. Only with a bid of € 112,000 – far above the estimate of € 20/30,000 – was the English buyer able to prevail over fellow bidders (lot 221).

“Étude de ciel (Rivage et ciel)”, a work on paper by Edgar Degas from 1869 (lot 25, € 90,000) and Marc Chagall’s “Portrait de Vava”, a small oil painting from 1953 (lot 86, € 60/80,000) each reached € 94,000. This was also the hammer price for Abel Pann’s important painting “Geschwister in Winterlandschaft” from 1913, and with it an international record for the artist (lot 27, € 80,000).

All five bronzes by Ernst Barlach, including “Das Wiedersehen (Thomas und Christus)”, (lot 76, € 40/50,000), “Der Zweifler” (lot 77, € 40,000) and “Der Buchleser (Lesender Mann im Wind)” (lot 79, € 40/50,000), exceeded their estimates (hammer prices up to € 81,000).


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Edgar Abs Press and public relations Cologne, June 2021