Top-selling drawings in Paris


In Artprice’s fortnightly series of auction rankings designed to help you identify the Art Market’s primary trends – this week’s Friday Top! article picks out the top 10 results during the intense week of drawing shows, fairs and auctions as part of Paris Drawing Week.

Every year – for the past 13 years – Drawing Week has marked the transition to spring throughout Paris with, among other events, three remarkably high quality fairs dedicated to the medium: the Salon du Dessin for ‘historic’ works; Drawing Now for confirmed Contemporary works and DDESSIN for the ‘emerging’ scene. Meanwhile… in perfect unison with the focus on drawing, Parisian auctioneers, including Sotheby’s, Christie’s, Artcurial, Ader, Aguttes, Binoche and Giquello, all organised sales of works on paper, with approximately 30 from all periods crossing the $100,000 threshold in Paris in less than a week. The timing of these sales was therefore favourable, especially for the sale of four works by Marc Chagall which all generated results in this Parisian drawing Top 10.

Rank Artist Hammer Price ($) Artwork Sale
1 Marc CHAGALL (1887-1985) 755 133 Musique en plein air 2019-03-28 – Sotheby’s , Paris
2 Marc CHAGALL (1887-1985) 711 903 La Danse 2019-03-28 – Christie’s , Paris
3 Vincent VAN GOGH (1853-1890) 577 157 Femme debout ou de profil 2019-03-28 – Christie’s , Paris
4 Marc CHAGALL (1887-1985) 431 745 Le cheval et l’âne (fables de la Fontaine) 2019-03-28 – Sotheby’s , Paris
5 Marc CHAGALL (1887-1985) 431 745 La perdrix et les coqs (fables de la Fontaine) 2019-03-28 – Sotheby’s , Paris
6 Baccio BANDINELLI (1493-1560) 372 970 Nus masculins debout 2019-03-27 – Artcurial, Paris
7 Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973) 321 142 Joueuse de flûte et nu couché 2019-03-28 – Christie’s , Paris
8 Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973) 294 754 Nu couché tenant une fleur… 2019-03-28 – Sotheby’s , Paris
9 Joan MIRO (1893-1983) 280 719 Femme, oiseau 2019-03-28 – Christie’s , Paris
10 Mary CASSATT (1844-1926) 280 719 Femme, oiseau 2019-03-28 – Christie’s , Paris
copyright © 2019

Chagall leads sales

On 28 March, Sotheby’s auctioned the Marcel Arland Collection. A major writer and art critic, Marcel Arland was close to the artists of his time… Chagall, Dubuffet, Chaissac and Atlan, among others. He played a key role in French 20th century art via his writings and via direct support to a number of painters of his era. Sotheby’s offered five drawings by Chagall from this eminent collection, as well as a signed letter from the artist. The gouache and watercolor drawing Musique en plein air was particularly attractive with a number of the key motifs dear to the artist such as the rooster, the goat, his hometown of Vitebsk in the background and a violinist, a major symbolic figure that Marcel Arland described in his work Dans l’amitié de la peinture (1980): “…the Fiddler [ …]who is at the centre of his work, the heart of his world, a figure that captivates, shatters the silence with great strikes of the bow and brings us into a frenetic dance. The work fetched $755,000, the 6th best result ever hammered for Chagall in France.

Two other drawings from the same collection generated excellent results: Le cheval et l’âne and La perdrix et les coqs both fetched the equivalent of $472,000 each. Both works were made for Ambroise Vollard’s project to reissue La Fontaine’s Fables. Between 1926 and 1928, Chagall produced 120 gouaches for this project, giving full expression to his love of colour.

A Van Gogh at close to $600,000

In third place in this TOP we have Vincent Van Gogh’s Femme debout ou de profil (1882). This solid black-stone drawing of a decent size (45.7 x 28.7 cm) demolished its estimated range of 120,000 – 180,000 euros by fetching 420,000 euros ($577,000 including buyer fees), the best French result for a non-colour drawing by this mythical artist.

New French record for Baccio Bandinelli

The only Old Master in this ranking, Baccio Bandinelli, refreshed his French auction record after Artcurial sold a beautiful ink drawing entitled Nus masculins debout measuring 40 cm. An extremely rare work, the bidding was intense and it multiplied the work’s low estimate ten times to reach $373,000, a record in France for this Florentine master inspired by Michelangelo.

Three Modern artists – Picasso, Miro and Cassatt – complete this Top 10 auction ranking of generally very buoyant results, confirming Paris’s status as one of the world’s primary marketplaces for the sale of Modern and Old Master drawings.