Untitled composition by Pierre Soulages, estimate €160,000-180,000 at Lempertz.

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To say that he had a limited colour palette would be a vast understatement: since the 1950s black dominated his works, which for him was a colour and a noncolour.

Sometimes he combined it with other pigments, more often than not he used it exclusively. Soulages developed his own shade of his favourite colour which is known as ‘outrenoir’. It can be loosely translated as ‘beyond black’. He was particularly fascinated by the reflections of light on the varied surfaces of his paintings.

Among the 1700 pieces he is said to have completed is this untitled, 2ft 10in x 2ft 2in (87 x 66cm) Indian ink composition on board, mounted on canvas.

With its characteristically dynamic broad brush strokes, it was executed in 1961 and has been consigned by a local collector to Lempertz in Cologne for the evening sale on December 1.

The painting is certainly fresh to the market - it has been in the same hands since 1963, when it was sold by the Galerie de France in Paris and since an exhibition in Copenhagen in the same year it has not been on public display.

Estimate €160,000-180,000.

Soulages in Paris


Pierre Soulages work from 1949 painted in oil on cardboard, estimate €200,000-300,000 at Aguttes.

On November 22, Neuilly Aguttes will be offering this small 4¼ x 3in (10.5 x 8cm) Soulages work from 1949 painted in oil on cardboard in its sale of Contemporary Art.

After the Second World War the artist began painting in the style for which he is so famous today and until the 1950s he produced very few oil paintings, confining himself to small formats and works on paper.

The year 1949 was a pivotal period for the artist who had just begun to gain recognition with exhibitions in New York.

In terms of technique and palette this painting represents the transitional phase when he first started to produce paintings in distinctive black tones for which he is best known.

The painting has a provenance to the collection of Madame Guy Marester Paris, then a private French collection.

The estimate is €200,000-300,000.