As Christie’s international director Stijn Alsteens explains: “The main sale is very strong anyway with a good group of 18th century French drawings, but what is exceptional this year is that we have a number of additional sales.”
This brings its total to four drawingsrelated auctions between March 22-23.
One of those is a single-owner consignment that comes trailing an historic provenance for a blue-chip artist – a 55-lot ensemble of works by Edgar Degas that have passed down through the artist’s family. Many of these are works from early in his career: copies of Old Masters in the Louvre, studies after antiquity and academic drawings through to family portraits.
A second single-owner session comprises furniture, sculpture and works on paper assembled by a couple of French art lovers.
Around half the 130 lots in this ensemble are Old Master and modern drawings highlighted by a wash drawing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard titled Le baiser à la fumée ou L’occasion, estimated at €200,000-300,000.
Fragonard crops up again as one of the major French names featuring in the auctioneers’ main mixed-owner sale. As well as major 18th and 19th century works by French artists, the sale features works by popular Italian Old Masters such as Gian Battista and Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo.
The fourth sale, the 130-lot Oeuvres Modernes sur Papier, covers material from more recent eras and includes a number of private consignments such as a group of works from Toulouse-Lautrec’s family.
The combination of a strong main sale and single-owner properties has added heft to Christie’s drawings offering this year. By way of illustration, Christie’s Stijn Alsteens points out that “by coincidence we have two drawings by Polidoro da Caravaggio, one of the most original pupils of Raphael whose drawings are quite rare in general and certainly on the market nowadays. It’s very unusual to have one drawing by him.”
The works illustrate different aspects of the artist’s style. From the single-owner collection comes a more angular modern 9 x 7in (22.5 x 18cm) pen and wash study of a seated woman (left) guided at €60,000-80,000, while the mixedowner sale features this more decorative tomb design (below) in pen and ink on two joined sheets measuring 12 x 7in (31 x 18cm), estimated at €40,000-60,000.