A powerfully balanced black and blue painting by the contemporary master largely lived up to its promise, followed by works by Bernard Buffet, Robert Combas and Camille Corot.
Pierre Soulages (b. 1919), Peinture 16 avril 1975 (Painting 16 April 1975), signed and dated oil on canvas, 100 x 81 cm/39.37 x 31.89 in.
Pierre Soulages' Peinture 16 avril 1975 (Painting 16 April 1975) made quite a splash on La Gazette’s cover thanks to its impressive presence. For a good 15 minutes, nine determined bidders in Montpellier (Southern France) vied with each other to own the work before one of them, a European, prevailed at €1,612,000: twice the high estimate. In addition to its visual power, the painting boasts an impeccable provenance: it has graced its owners’ office since they purchased it from a Montpellier gallery in the mid-1970s. What’s more, it dates from a sought-after period between Soulages' early "walnut stain" years and his final, "outre-noir" phase.
From the same Provençal collection, Maison rose au bord du canal (Pink House by the Canal, 89 x 130 cm/35.04 x 51.18 in), an emblematic 1982 landscape by Bernard Buffet acquired directly from the Maurice Garnier gallery, also doubled its high estimate at €140,120. Robert Combas’ more iconoclastic Le Cueilleur de tournesols (The Sunflower Picker; Combas may have depicted himself in this exultant acrylic) from 1986 (92 x 65 cm/36.22 x 25.59 in) found a buyer at €74,400. Deux moines sur la terrasse du palais Doria à Gênes (Two Monks on the Terrace of the Palazzo Doria in Genoa), a very fine Camille Corot from June 1834, i.e. his Italian period, brilliantly illustrated the age of Romanticism. The radiant oil on canvas (25 x 36.5 cm/9.84 x 14.37 in), part of the artist’s studio sale after his death in 1875, sold for €186,000.