A World Record for Georges Kars

On 24 May 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

Le Douanier Rousseau, Raden Saleh, Raoul Dufy and a world record for Georges Kars… A winning quartet in a sale dedicated to modern art. 

Jiri Karpeles, aka Georges Kars (1882-1945), Le Repos au bois, ca. 1916, oil on canvas, 81 x 100 cm.
Result: €281,600

This appealingly naïve painting by Le Douanier Rousseau entitled La Scierie de Bièvres fetched €153,600. The artist is to be on show at the Musée Maillol in its next autumn exhibition, starting on 11 September 2019. However, his work was overshadowed by an unexpected painting, Le Repos au bois by Jiri Karpeles, aka Georges Kars (1882-1945). This defied all predictions by soaring up to €281,600, setting a world record for the artist (source: Artnet). The previous one was held by Les Baigneuses, a painting of ca. 1912 sold for £137,500 (€156,665) at Christie’s in London on 28 February this year. The Czechoslovak artist, a member of the Paris School, is not often seen in the French market. This work dates from around 1916, when Kars had left France (where he had arrived in 1908 after studies in Munich and a period in Madrid) for Belgium with his friend, the artist Pascin. When he met the Parisian avant-gardes, he was influenced by Cubism while never abandoning realism, to which he was always deeply attached. An exile in Switzerland during the Second World War, he was unable to cope with the tragedy that befell his people, and committed suicide.

Henri Rousseau, aka Le Douanier Rousseau (1844-1910), La Scierie de Bièvres (The Bièvres Sawmill), oil on canvas, 41 x 33 cm.Estimate: €100,000/150,00
Henri Rousseau, aka Le Douanier Rousseau (1844-1910), La Scierie de Bièvres (The Bièvres Sawmill), oil on canvas, 41 x 33 cm.
Result: €153,600

Seamlessly following on, Le Grand Orchestre (39 x 47 cm) by Raoul Dufy, painted on a cradled panel, brought all its instruments together to play one piece to the tune of €124,160. Meanwhile, a Young Stag (51 x 56 cm) on the watch accepted €112,640. The stag – actually more of a brocket – evokes the long stay in Europe of the Indonesian painter Raden Saleh (1811-1880), as well as his taste for the hunting scenes that made him so successful.

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