Fine art prints auction sees Warhol’s Sandro Botticelli screenprint earn $68K

SAN FRANCISCO — Highlighting the $2.1 million fine art prints auction at Bonhams, October 22 in San Francisco, and simulcast in Los Angeles, was Andy Warhol’s Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus, 1482, from Details of Renaissance Paintings, 1984; a screenprint in colors that sold for $68,750. It was one of many successful selling lots from the Contemporary Prints and Multiples portion of the fall sale.

Contemporary highlights also included examples of Edward Ruscha’s Made In California, 1971, a screenprint in colors that brought $31,250 (estimate $8,000-12,000) – setting a record for the highest amount ever for the work at auction – and David Hockney’s Walking Past Two Chairs, from Moving Focus, 1984-86, a lithograph in colors on paper and screenprint on Plexiglas that sold for $50,000.

Related Article: Art Markets: Warhol buys abstract expressionists a Coke

James Whistler etching

James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834-1903)
Study: Standing Figure (S. 3; L. 5; Way 1), 1878
Lithograph with scraping and roulette on cream wove paper, a rich impression of the first state (of two), before the removal of three small lines above the figure’s head and the tone in the model’s face, only 8 impressions were printed of which 4 are in museum collections, with full margins, framed.
Maud Franklin was often the model for Whistler’s paintings and drawings and was the subject of the artist’s first exploration into lithography. Whistler drew directly on the stone using crayons, roulette and scraping as opposed to transfer printing in the making of this lithograph.
10 1/4 x 6in
sheet 16 x 10 3/8in
Sold for $47,500 (achieving the highest sale price ever for this work at auction). Photo courtesy Bonhams.

Also notable was Francis Bacon’s Three Studies for a Self-Portrait, 1981, featuring three lithographs in colors on one sheet of Arches paper, that took in $31,250 ($15,000-20,000) and Robert Rauschenberg’s mixed-media work Sling-Shots Lit #6, from the Sling-Shots Lit Series, 1985, that achieved $31,250.

Nineteenth century and modern prints also sold well in the sale, as exampled by Pablo Picasso’s Après la Pique, 1959, a linocut in colors on Arches paper, that brought $50,000, and James Abbott McNeill Whistler’s lithograph on paper of Study: Standing Figure, 1878, that took in $47,500 ($5,000-7,000), achieving the highest sale price ever for the work at auction.

Works by Marc Chagall also topped the category, with Le Grand Bouquet, 1963, a lithograph in colors selling for $47,500, and The Story of Exodus, 1966, a complete portfolio, comprising 24 lithographs in colors, achieving $31,250 ($20,000-30,000). Strong examples continued with Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita’s 14 Plates, from A Book of Cats, 1929, comprising 14 of 20 collotypes, that sold for $31,250 ($8,000-12,000) and Henri Matisse’s Figure devant tapa Africain, 1929, a lithograph that achieved $18,750 – the highest ever achieved for the work at auction.

Rounding out the sale were Old Master examples, including a David Lucas, after John Constable, of Various Subjects of Landscape, Characteristic of English Scenery, 1829-38, comprising 80 mezzotints with etching, roulette and drypoint, on various papers that sold for $16,250 ($8,000-10,000) and Rembrandt Harmensz van Rijn’s Sheet of Studies: Head of the Artist, a Beggar Couple, Heads of an Old Man and Old Woman, c. 1632, that realized $11,250 ($6,000-8,000).

The Fine Prints Department Director at Bonhams, Judith Eurich, said of the sale, “This auction was a resounding success with many major works exceeding expectations by achieving prices above their estimates.”

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