July 23, 2020 / 1:57 PM / 18 days ago

Rembrandt and Picasso entice life back to auctions after lockdown

LONDON (Reuters) - Works by Rembrandt, Miro and Picasso are being offered to entice life back to the auction world next week when Sotheby’s holds its first face-to-face sale since the coronavirus in London with a line-up from the Renaissance to the European Avant Garde.

A gallery assistant poses beside 'Femme endorme' by Spanish artist Picasso during a media preview for 'Rembrandt to Richter' at Sotheby's auction house in London, Britain, July 23 2020. Picture taken July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

With art collectors locked down from Moscow to Manhattan and some fortunes in peril from the worst economic hit in centuries, the art auction world is trying to bring back some sparkle after the gloom of the pandemic.

Sotheby’s will on Tuesday hold its first face-to-face auction at its Bond Street salerooms since the outbreak, with 71 works spanning half a millennium of European art history, from Gerhard Richter to Rembrandt.

The Rembrandt is a self portrait of the artist as a young man, one of only three left in private hands. The Dutch master looks out with the slightly affected confidence of youth. Price tag: 12-16 million pounds ($15-20 million).

One of Miro’s dream paintings, Peinture (Femme au chapeau rouge), from 1927, shows a woman floating against striking blue, deliberately obscure like a wistful love poem. It is on offer for 20-30 million pounds.

“It’s fantastic to be back in the galleries here in Bond Street,” Helena Newman, chairman of Sotheby’s Europe, told Reuters.

The Picasso is a seductive image of his lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, Femme Endormie. In charcoal on primed canvas, her curved face, arms and lips are visible but her body is only hinted at. Price: 6-9 million pounds.

“A statuesque and mysterious creature: a kind of goddess even, embodying youth and innocence and pure force of life,” art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon said of the portrait.

Fast forward 40 years to Richter’s Clouds (Window), which evoke the Romantic landscapes of Constable and the light-effects of Turner. On sale for 9-20 million pounds.

Presale estimates for the auction range from 128.8 million pounds to 185.8 million pounds.

There will be limited attendance and bidders will be in a separate room to the auctioneer. Admittance is by ticket.

(This story refiled to remove extraneous word from headline)

Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; Editing by Giles Elgood

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