A chart by Frenchman Henri Rousseau, ‘Les flamants’ (the flamingos) broke the record this Thursday of the artist when it was sold for 43.5 million dollars at Christie’s auction, the first of the spring season in New York.
started as favorite a painting by Picasso, ‘Nature morte à la fenêtre’, which sold for 41.81 millionslightly above the 40 million that was calculated for him at the start and in the midst of a debate about whether the price of the Spanish artist is beginning to drop after several years leading sales with a repertoire that seems endless.
Rousseau’s canvas (1844-1910), painted in 1907, started with an estimate between 20 and 30 million, so its final price can be considered a surprise, since the author’s record was below 5 million. It represents a lake with some kind of giant water lilies and some flamingos in the foreground; in the background there are small human silhouettes of what appear to be fishermen. Rousseau, nicknamed ‘The Customs Officer’ for having earned a living as a tax collector, did not gain notoriety until his death, and his most recurring scenes of nature and jungle are framed in the post-impressionist naive style.
In addition to Rousseau and Picasso, other valuable pieces sold at today’s auction included a Francis Bacon self-portrait (34.6 million) and Willem de Kooning’s ‘Orestes’ canvas (30.8 million).
Today’s auction, dedicated to 20th century art, was completed with pieces by Renoir, Degas, Hockney and Lalanne, among others. At the end of the session, Christie’s announced that today’s sales totaled $329 million.