Georges Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble Sold for Record $149 Million

Georges Seurat’s Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version) from 1888 achieved a record price for the artist at auction this month. The painting was the highest piece sold at the November 8 auction of the art collection owned by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen was the largest single-owner sale in history. The work carried a presale estimate of $100 million and sold at Christie’s for $149 million, (hammer price of $130 million with fees).

There were 60 artworks sold for an unprecedented $1.5 billion, well over the presale estimate of $1 billion to $1.38 billion. (The total includes auction house fees known as the buyer’s premium; the estimate does not.) Proceeds from the sale will go to philanthropy, according to executors of Allen’s estate, with causes yet to be disclosed.,

GEORGES SEURAT (1859-1891) Les Poseuses, Ensemble

GEORGES SEURAT (1859-1891)
Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version)
oil on canvas
15 1/2 x 19 3/4 in. (39.3 x 50 cm.)
Painted in 1888

Les Poseuses, Ensemble (Petite version) is a self-referential nod to A Sunday on La Grande Jatte, which is in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. A larger version of Les Poseuses is part of the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia.

Just a few years before his untimely death at the age of 31, Georges Seurat began work on an interior composition of three nudes. The result, Les Poseuses, was both a defense of his pointillist technique and a declaration of the artist’s revolutionary modernism. 

Max Carter, Vice Chairman at Christie’s

The previous auction record for Seurat’s work was Paysage, l’Ile de la Grande-Jatte from 1884 which sold in 1999 for $35.2 million at Sotheby’s in New York.

It was a busy week for art, November New York sales achieved record amounts at Christie’s, Phillips and Sotheby’s with more than $1.4 billion worth of art sold. Which when combined with the Paul Allen sale brings the total to just over $3 billion. The few remaining auctions on Friday and over the weekend will nudge it even higher.

Provenance

Jules F. Christophe, Paris (by 1892, then by descent).
B.A. Edynski and Max Hochschiller, Paris (by 1908).
Galerie Bernheim-Jeune et Cie., Paris.
Alphonse Kann, Paris (by 1910, until at least 1917).
Marius de Zayas, New York (by 1921).
John Quinn, New York (by 1922).
Julia Quinn Anderson, New York (by descent from the above, 1924).
Mary Anderson Conroy, New York (by descent from the above).
Henry P. McIlhenny, Esq., Philadelphia (acquired from the above, 1936); sale, Christie’s, London, 30 June 1970, lot 16 (world auction record for the artist at the time of sale).
Artemis, Luxembourg (acquired at the above sale).
Heinz Berggruen, Paris (acquired from the above, 1973).
Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.
Private collection (acquired from the above, 1997).
Acquired by the late owner, 3 December 1999.

Live Auction 22010 Visionary: The Paul G. Allen Collection Part I, 8 Nov 2022

Source: Christies

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