Le quai Saint Michel by the French artist, Maximilien Luce, is one of the highlights of Bonhams Impressionist and Modern sale in New York on May 7. It is estimated at $600,000 – 800,000. Painted in 1900, this quintessentially Neo-Impressionist view of Paris at the dawn of the 20th century expresses the freshness and light so characteristic of the artist. It combines the free brushstrokes of his Impressionist phase with the radical color pairings of the Pointillists. The dashes of pink and blue pigment agitate the busy scene, as Parisians stroll by the Seine or pause at the booksellers’ stalls on a blustery spring day.
Paris in 1900 was gripped by the Exposition Universelle, the World’s Fair, which opened in April as Le quai Saint Michel was being painted. Almost 50 million people visited the city to marvel at the displays of technology and arts, and to celebrate the potential of the 20th century. This painting with its focus on the teeming streets of the modern metropolis, is a beautiful expression of ‘the people’s century’.
The sale also includes an alluring watercolor by Picasso of his lover Marie-Therèse Walter, the striking blond who inspired many of the master’s most overtly erotic portraits ($250,000 – 350,000).
The delicately colored and intimate work was probably painted at the Château de Boisgeloup outside Paris, which Picasso had bought the previous year in part to hide his mistress from his ever-vigilant wife Olga.
Among the other highlights of the sale are two oil paintings by Raoul Dufy, a watercolor by Salvador Dali dedicated to his wife Gala and a surrealist still-life by Herbert Bayer, the designer who brought the Bauhaus aesthetic to corporate America.