Friday, August 24, 2012

Paul Cézanne: The Card Players

Public Domain Image: The Card Players (Zwei Kartenspieler), oil on canvas painting (1892-93), 97 cm x 130 cm

Can this Paul Cézanne magnum opus be worth $300 million? It seems to be insane, especially so as none of the previously sold most expensive paintings, not another Cézanne, sold ever could fetch even half of the price.

But this painting, The Card Players, one of a series of five paintings by the French Post-Impressionist artist Cézanne, depicting two peasants from Aix-en-Provence deeply engrossed in a card game, broke all the records of art sales and set a new trend of unbelievably high prices for works of modern art, shifting the focus from old master paintings.

The Card Players, believed to be one of the last works Cezanne painted in his life, broke the record of the most expensive painting held by the American painter Jackson Pollock’s classic drip painting titled No. 5, 1948 which was sold for $140 million on November 2, 2006 in a private sale via Sotheby's.

If the highest rumored price for the Card Players can be believed, it is more than double the price of any work of art ever sold. However, the lowest confirmed (yet rumored) price is $250 million. The painting, which was in the private collection of the Greek shipping tycoon George Embiricos, was rarely seen by the public as he kept it as one of his most treasured collections and rarely lent out for exhibitions.

However, before his death in 2011, Embiricos planned for its sales and it was pursued and managed by his estate. The painting is believed to have received offers of over $220 million, but the Royal family of Qatar, the ruling emir family of Qatar, outbid other bidders offering $250 million. However, estimates of the price Qatar paid are often quoted as high as $300 million.

The other Cézanne Card Players in the series are currently in the collections of the Barnes Foundation (Philadelphia), Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), the Courtauld Institute of Art (London) and the Musée d'Orsay (Paris).

Apart from these paintings, there are several other sketches, studies, and paintings of individual figures in the work which Cezanne painted as preparatory works for the main paintings.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Barack Obama with Larry the cat

Public Domain Photo: The British Prime Minister David Cameron introduces the United States President Barack Obama to Larry the cat, the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office at 10 Downing Street in London, England, on May 25, 2011 – photo by Pete Souza, White House Photographer, Washington, DC.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Francis Derwent Wood: Leda and the Swan

Public Domain Photos: Leda and the Swan (1912), marble sculpture by the British sculptor Francis Derwent Wood RA (1871-1926), height: 38 cm, private collection

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Hamilton: Lil'l Southern Belles

Public Domain Image: Lil'l Southern Belles (1894), oil on canvas painting by the American Impressionist artist Hamilton Hamilton (1847-1928), 91.44 cm x 81.28 cm (36 x 32 inches), public collection

The celebrated American impressionist artist and illustrator Hamilton Hamilton, who was born in Oxford, England, is best known for his landscape and portrait paintings.

For the painting ‘Lil'l Southern Belles’, Hamilton probably used his twin daughters Marguerite and Helen born in 1889 as models. Helen, trained by her father, became a recognized post-impressionist landscape painter.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Paul Gauguin: The Painter of Sunflowers - Portrait of Vincent van Gogh

Public Domain Photos: The Painter of Sunflowers (Le Peintre de Tournesols), oil on jute painting by Paul Gauguin, 73 cm x 91 cm (28.7 in x 35.8 in), located at Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

The Painter of Sunflowers: Portrait of Vincent van Gogh is a portrait of the Dutch post-Impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890) painted by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) in December 1888 during his two-months’ stay at Arles, a city and commune in the south of France. The painting features van Gogh as a red bearded man in a brown coat, holding a brush in his right hand and painting sunflowers.

During his stay in Arles van Gogh invited Gauguin to visit him as van Gogh was planning to organize a collective community of artists there. He had also hoped for long-lasting friendship with Gauguin. On 23 October, Gauguin arrived in Arles where the two artists painted together during November. But soon they developed bitter difference of opinion and quarreled frequently on matters regarding art.

Though van Gogh greatly admired Gauguin, he felt that he was arrogant and feared that Gauguin would desert him. Van Gogh became frustrated and critically ill and on 23 December 1888, he threatened Gauguin with a razor blade. But instead of harming Gauguin, he ran to a nearby brothel that used to be the only point of contact he had with other people. In the brothel, he cut off his left ear (or only the lower part of the left earlobe, as claimed by some other accounts) and staggered home, where Gauguin later found him lying unconscious in a pool of blood.

Gauguin took van Gogh to a hospital and informed Theo van Gogh, his younger brother and art dealer, who visited the hospital. Van Gogh had to be in the hospital for several days during which he kept on asking for Gauguin who stayed away. Gauguin left Arles without facing him and he never met van Gogh again.

Now ‘The Painter of Sunflowers’ is housed in the Van Gogh Museum, which has the world’s largest collection of paintings and drawings by van Gogh, and a large number of works by his contemporary artists.