Monet water lilies star in 'most valuable' London auction

3rd June 2010, Comments 0 comments

A rare water lily painting by Claude Monet will star among dozens of modern masterpieces this month in what is being billed as the "most valuable" art auction ever held in London, Christie's said Thursday.

Painted in 1906, the work is part of the French Impressionist's iconic Nympheas series and was included in his historic exhibition in Paris three years later, the auction house said.

Christie's said it expected the London sale of 63 modern and impressionist artworks on June 23 to raise between 163 and 231 million pounds (196/276 million euros, 240/338 million dollars).

Offered from a private collection, the Monet alone is expected to fetch between 30 and 40 million pounds, it said in a statement.

"Claude Monet's water lily paintings are amongst the most recognised and celebrated works of the 20th century, and were hugely influential to many of the following generations of artists," said Giovanna Bertazzoni, head of impressionist and modern art at Christie's.

The paintings depict Monet's flower garden at Giverny in northern France, where from around 1899 he became increasingly occupied by the effect of light and the reflections from the water of the pond.

The London sale follows a similar auction at Christie's New York on May 4 at which Pablo Picasso's "Nude, Green Leaves and Bust" set a new record as the most expensive work of art ever sold, fetching over 106 million dollars.

Another star work is the Blue Period masterpiece by Picasso, "Portrait of Angel Fernandez de Soto", a painting of his friend and fellow artist also known as "The Absinthe Drinker", expected to fetch 30 to 40 million pounds.

One of the last great portraits painted by the turn-of-the-century Austrian symbolist Gustav Klimt, his "Portrait of Ria Munk III", is expected to go for between 14 million and 18 million pounds, Christie's said.

Other high-profile lots include "Parc de l'hopital Saint-Paul", painted in 1889 by Vincent van Gogh during his voluntary confinement at an asylum in Provence, as well as works by Henri Matisse, Rene Magritte and Otto Dix.

© 2010 AFP

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