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Fine Arts At Auction
( Article orginally published September 1960 )
About 1950 paintings were sold at auction from September, 1959, to June, 1960, by the Parke-Bernet Galleries, Inc., New York, N. Y. They brought a total of $3,078,360.
The works of Cezanne, Monet, Renoir and other French impressionists and post-impressionists continued to rank high, but there was also a decided upswing in prices for cubist and other abstract works, in particular, examples by Braque, Leger and Picasso; as well as a marked surge of interest in such younger contemporaries as Dubuffet, Hartung and Soulages. These trends were most pointedly illustrated in the sale held for the benefit of the 30th Anniversary Fund of the Museum of Modern Art, when, for the first time in art auction history, coast-to-coast closed circuit television, under a plan conceived and executed by Theatre Network Television, Inc., enabled bidders in New York, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles to participate.
Another sale of particular interest was that of twenty-seven paintings of Diego Rivera, including important cubist period canvases (1914-17), collected by the late D. Enrique Freyman, former cultural attache of the Mexican Government in Paris.
Top prices for modern works, in addition to those which brought the season's highest prices, were: $42,000 for "The Houses of Parliament, London" by Monet; $40,000 for Brancusi's extremely rare bronze "Blonde Negress"; $38,000 for "Femme au Chapeau Bleu" by Matisse and $4,500 for a bronze bust by Epstein, "Old Pinager (1923)." Prices for Continental contemporaries were especially interesting and included $27,000 and $13,500 for two Dubuffets; $8,000 for a Giacometti figure; $7,000 for a Venard and $5,800 for a Matta; with $11,000 for a Hartung and $9,000 for a Soulages, neither of whose works had sold here before at auction.
Only two sales devoted solely to the sale of Old Master paintings occurred. The highest prices were brought by a Salomon van Ruysdael, "River Scene," $10,500, followed by $9,000 for a Vigee-Lebrun portrait of "La Comtesse de Chatenay."