The quality-rich offer was headed up by works of the modern classics from France and Germany. Karl Hartung reached an international record price of € 605,000, Lovis Corinth rose to € 517,000, and Lyonel Feininger was no less impressive with a result of € 428,000. An important watercolour by George Grosz sold for € 378,000, a small canvas by Pierre Aguste Renoir for € 227,000, whilst Gert Heinrich Wollheim secured an international record with € 202,000, and a Nolde watercolour sold for € 113,000.
At € 605,000 – a world record for the artist – Karl Hartung’s 223 cm long bronze sculpture ‘Große Liegende’ from 1951 outshone the auction. The work was created in the heyday of his artistic development and is one of his most important works. Karl Hartung had been pursuing the motif of reclining nudes since the 1920s – initially inspired by Maillol, he worked in an increasingly abstract manner as the years progressed. In the 1940s, a period in which Hartung found himself in a veritable frenzy of creativity, he developed – also inspired by Henry Moore - a large series of nudes in which he experimented with an extreme variety of formal means of expression. A Berlin collection fought against the determined competition to secure the sculpture (lot 7, € 150/170,000).
A North German collection acquired Lovis Corinth’s impressive ‘Römische Blumen’ from 1914 for a top price of € 517,000 after an estimate of € 250/300,000. In April of that year, the painter set out with his wife Charlotte on a journey to the south of France and Italy. The displayed bouquet was created in their hotel room in Rome. Corinth’s floral still lifes celebrate the opulence of nature in a splendidly luxuriant and diverse abundance of colours and forms. Within the context of the gathering threat of war, they can equally be seen as a memento mori and as an expression of pure abundance of life (lot 19).
Only with a contribution of € 428,000 was a Rhenish collection able to win Lyonel Feininger’s painting ‘An der Seine’ from 1912, which had been on long-term loan in the Moritzburg Art Museum in Halle (Saale) and where it was the subject of extensive art historical and technical analyses reconstructing the history of the work’s creation. The painting’s appearance today presents a version that was heavily reworked by the artist over a number of years: a photograph from the 1910s/20s provides insight into its original state. As an extraordinary record of Feininger’s stylistic and technical development, this represents a central and key work that possessed very special personal significance for the painter himself and depicts the defining turning point in his unique artistic career (lot 52, € 150/180,000).
A Berlin collection pushed the 1922 brush, ink and watercolour on paper ‘Ganoven an der Theke’ by George Grosz up to € 378,000. Exhibited, amongst other places, in the Royal Academy of Arts in London, this work on paper is without a doubt one of the most important sheets from the best period in the artist’s oeuvre whose depictions of social life around 1920 are icons of modernity (lot 26, € 250/300,000).
The Swiss trade won Pierre-August Renoir’s small, delicately coloured painting ‘Nu debout en pied’ from 1879 with a price of € 227,000, a painting in which the female figure of Venus is depicted rising out of the dark background. The picture was once in the collection of Henri Fantin-Latour (lot 41, € 180/220,000). Gert Heinrich Wollheim’s impressive canvas ‘Dachgeister’ from 1922 was created during the six-year period he spent in Düsseldorf. In this painting, Wollheim – in keeping with his simmering, anarchical temperament – has two roof spirits celebrate a world that has gone off the rails. The landscape of the roofs stirs memories of a battlefield and the viscous smoke billows downward from the chimney: a world turned on its head. Numerous bidders joined the bidding war and pushed the picture from € 30,000 up to an international record price of € 202,000 for a collection based in America (lot 8).
At the top of the offer of Emil Nolde works with a hammer price of € 113,000 was the watercolour ‘Abendmeer mit Segelboot und Dampfer’, painted in 1946 and acquired direct from the artist (lot 4, € 120/150,000). ‘Dschunken auf dem gelben Fluss’, painted in November 1913 during Nolde’s South Sea trip during a stay in China reached € 76,000 (lot 3, € 60/80,000), whilst Picasso’s colour lino print ‘Portrait de femme à la fraise et au chapeau’ from 1962 sold for € 95,000 (lot 45, € 80/90,000). Ernst Ludwig Kirchner’s charming original lithograph ‘Tanzende Akt’ from 1914 won € 88,000 (lot 38, € 60/80,000) whilst Jean Léon Fautrier’s painting ‘Nature morte aux fleurs’, painted in 1928, jumped to € 87,000 (lot 79, € 40/60,000).