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Nov 5, 2014 8:05 AM

Manet, Leger at NYC art auction

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) A celebrated portrait of a Parisian actress by Edouard Manet is poised to set a new auction record for the artist during the second day of a major fall sale of impressionist and modern art.

"Spring" could bring as much as $35 million at Christie's Wednesday evening.

If realized, the price would top the current record of $33.2 million for the French impressionist artist.

"Spring" is considered a Manet masterpiece. It was first presented at the 1882 Paris Salon and depicts actress Jeanne Demarsy in a floral dress and bonnet as an evocation of spring.

Manet had intended four allegorical works of the four seasons but only completed "Spring" and "Autumn." One of the leading artists of the impressionist movement famous for his portraits and scenes from everyday life, Manet died in 1883 at 51.

"Spring" has been in the same American collection for over a century and has been on loan at the National Gallery of Art for the last two decades.

The first owner was Manet's friend, the journalist Antonin Proust. It later was in the collections of the operatic baritone and important impressionist collector J.B Faure and French art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who sold it to a private collector in 1909, where it remained.

Proceeds will benefit a private American foundation that supports environmental, public health and other causes.

Among other highlights at Wednesday's sale is an oil painting by Cubist artist Fernand Leger. "Constructors With a Tree," which depicts the artist's frequent theme of construction and engineering, is estimated to bring $16 million to $22 million.

The current Leger auction record is $39.2 million

On Thursday, Christie's is featuring property of Academy Award-winning actress Joan Fontaine, including a 1935 painting by Marc Chagall, "Vase of Flowers in the Window," which could fetch up to $600,000.

The auction season kicked off Tuesday at Sotheby's with "Chariot," an important 1951 bronze sculpture by Alberto Giacometti fetching $101 million. The price almost broke the $104.3 million record for the Swiss artist.

Also on Tuesday, a major work by Vincent van Gogh painted in 1890 weeks before his death sold for $61.8 million. "Still Life, Vase With Daisies and Poppies" had been expected to fetch between $30 million and $50 million. The auction record for a van Gogh is $82.5 million.

Among other high prices realized at Sotheby's was Amedeo Modigliani's "Tete." It fetched $70.7 million, just topping the previous auction record for the artist of $69 million.

Sotheby's said the sale totaled $422.1 million, the highest for any auction in its history.


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