A reclining nude by Amedeo Modigliani, "La Reveuse," sold for $4.62 million at Sotheby's auction house tonight, a new record for the artist.
"La Reveuse" (1917-18) zoomed past the previous record of $1.9 million for his "Giovanotto dai Capelli Rosso" at Christie's here Tuesday night. Tonight's sale of Impressionist and modern paintings and sculpture totaled $30.6 million, with 82 works offered, and several also setting records.
"La Reveuse" (The Dreamer), which was once owned by the late Nelson Rockefeller, was sold anonymously and purchased anonymously by an agent in the room.
Modigiliani died in 1920, penniless at the age of 35, but he now ranks among the best-known 20th-century artists. Earlier this year, three sculptured heads attributed to the artist were found at the bottom of a canal in Modigliani's native city, Leghorn, Italy. They turned out to be fakes, part of a hoax by university students and a dock worker.
The collection of Mr. and Mrs. David Bakalar kicked off the sale with six pictures, among them the second and third highest sellers. Bakalar, a Boston electronics industrialist, said he offered his pictures because he has moved on to new collecting interests.
"La Femme a la grand Toque" (1878), offered by Bakalar, was the surprise of the evening, with a $3.9 million bid. The portrait by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot of a woman strumming a mandolin in a Renaissance setting toppled the previous record for the French artist by more than five times.
As in Tuesday night's sale, Claude Monet was represented by a painting from his first garden in Argenteuil. "Au Jardin" (1875), also offered for sale by Bakalar, brought $2.4 million, over a half million dollars more than the companion piece sold at Christie's. Tonight's garden scene was not only bigger and more colorful but included fully defined figures of the artist's family.
A taut and geometric bronze bust by Constantin Brancusi brought a new record for the artist of $1.7 million. "Mlle Pogany" is one of four casts executed in 1913 by the Romanian modern artist. The Museum of Modern Art, the J.B. Speed Museum in Louisville and the Storck Museum in Romania own the other three. The buyer tonight was not identified and made the bid by telephone. The same bronze sold in 1957 for $1,700 at Sotheby's.
Another sculpture, "The Chariot" (1950) by Alberto Giacometti, sold for $1.4 million. Last year another cast from the same mold sold for $1.3 million.
The record for a Giorgio de Chirico work fell as well. One of his early and sought-after 1914 metaphysical paintings, "Le Depart du Poete," fetched $1 million, nearly triple the record set at Christie's only last Monday.
A painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir brought $2.1 million. "Femme au Chapeau Jaune" (1877), considered a somewhat mediocre portrait of a daughter of a close friend of the artist, proved once again that the market for Renoir seemingly knows no bounds.
Bidding for the Modigliani nude began at $1 million. The bids climbed steadily in $100,000 increments, with neither of the two final bidders in the room. Applause followed the fall of the hammer at $4.6 million.
"That is an extraordinary bid for a Modigliani," said David Nash, Sotheby's head of paintings. "Look, he is not considered one of the great masters of the history of art."
Tonight and Tuesday night's sales comforted market observers. "The art market is still very much on the climb," said Nash. "At least for now, that is." CAPTION: Picture, Constantin Brancusi's "Mile Pogany." Copyright (c) Sothely Paske Bernet, 1984