Christie's Strolls Manet 'Printemps'
New York -- Édouard Manet’s 1881 portrait of the actress Jeanne Demarsy in a flowery dress and bonnet was intended as an evocation of spring.
Painted in profile, her model-perfect silhouette, with a lacy parasol resting on her shoulder, is likely to be blown up and displayed in Christie’s Rockefeller Center windows as a teaser to the auction house’s big fall auctions.
“Le Printemps,” as the painting is titled, is viewed as a star of the Nov. 5 Impressionist and Modern art sale, where it is expected to sell for $25 million to $35 million.
Art collectors of ArtKabinett social media network are impressed with this stunning auction lot.
Before an important painting or sculpture like this one comes to auction, experts often try to sell it privately first.
According to several dealers, Christie’s officials offered it to several mega-rich collectors for around $55 million over the last six months. When no one bit, Christie’s decided to offer it at auction at a far lower price.
The painting was first shown at the Paris Salon of 1882 along with “Un Bar aux Folies-Bergère,” one of Manet’s most famous works, now at the Courtauld Gallery in London. Demarsy is in that painting, too, but only as a distant figure with opera glasses on a balcony reflected in the mirror behind the bar.
(The Fogg Museum at Harvard has a drawing of Demarsy, and a print of her is one of Manet’s best-known images, said Adrien Meyer, international director of Christie’s Impressionist and Modern art department.)
“Le Printemps” was recently on loan to the National Gallery of Art in Washington for two decades.
It was also included in the blockbuster exhibition “Impressionism, Fashion and Modernity,” which opened at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris in 2012 and traveled to the Metropolitan Museum and the Art Institute of Chicago.
The painting has had several distinguished owners, including the historian Antonin Proust (not related to Marcel), the artist’s friend from childhood, and the French baritone J. B. Faure, who was a patron of Manet.
In 1907 Faure sold it to the Paris dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, who ended up sending it to his New York gallery; there it was purchased by Oliver Hazard Payne, one of Cleveland’s richest magnates. One of Payne’s descendants is selling it at the fall auction.
“It has remained in the same family for 100 years,” Mr. Meyer said.
Top-flight Impressionist paintings have been scarce at auctions in recent seasons, and Mr. Meyer speculated that the Manet could end up in a museum or be snapped up by a moneyed buyer from Asia or a collector closer to home.
“We’ve given museums advance notice,” he said, noting that institutions need time to raise money and draw support from trustees before making a big purchase.