WHEN it comes to modern prints, Edvard Munch (1863-1944) stands in a league with only Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol as artists who have made sums getting on for £1m at auction. However, Bonhams broke through that barrier on July 13 when they offered an extremely rare version of one of the Norwegian artist’s best known images.
Prints of Munch's controversial work Madonna are not
uncommon on the market but this example was an early hand-coloured
impression of the first state, signed by the artist and dated
The artist painted six oils on canvas of Madonna
between 1894 and 1895 the model being his mistress Dagny Juel who
was later shot dead by a younger lover in a Tblisi hotel aged just
Munch then produced around 150 prints of the image in seven
different states between 1895 and 1902. However, only a few
examples of the first state are known to exist and most of these
are now in public collections with none having appeared on the open
market in at least the last two decades.
The 23 1/2 x 15 3/4in (60 x 44cm) lithograph at Bonhams, which
had been in the same family for over 100 years and was in excellent
condition, therefore represented an exceptional opportunity of
collectors. It came to auction from the collection of the abstract
expressionist artist Frank (Albert) Avray Wilson having previously
been in the collection of his wife Ivy Eckbo, the adopted daughter
of Eivind Eckbo, a Norwegian businessman and philanthropist who
owned several Munch lithographs.
Estimated at £500,000-700,000 at Bonhams' specialist print sale
in New Bond Street, it was knocked down at £1.1m to a private buyer
from the US, roughly equalling the record price for a Munch print
made by a version of another iconic image, Vampire II,
which sold at Oslo saleroom Grev Wedels Plass Auksjoner in November
2007 for 11.8m Norwegian Kroner.
A version of Madonna from 1902 (the seventh state) sold
at Sotheby's in March 2006 at £340,000.
The buyer's premium was 20/12%
By Alex Capon