A painting that Christie’s describes as one of the Belgian painter’s most iconic, “Le mois des vendanges” by René Magritte, is set to go under the hammer March 9 in London at the auction house’s annual “The Art of the Surreal Evening Sale.”
“Le mois des vendanges” or “The Time of Harvest” features the totemic, enigmatic figure of a man in a bowler hat, a figure seen in many of the surrealist master’s paintings. This particular work focuses on the view through an open window, through which can be seen an infinite number of these figures. The disconcerting composition reminds the viewer “how strange reality can be, if one has ‘a sense of reality,'” as Magritte explained in his letters.
“Le mois des vendanges” is one of the four largest works by Magritte still in private hands. It will come to market for the first time since 1963, when the late Franco-Brazilian financier, Claude Hersaint, acquired it for the equivalent of £6,000 (approx. $8,000 or P380,000).
The painting is expected to fetch between £10 million and £15 million (approx. $13.4 to $20 million or P643.7 million to P965.5 million), a sum that is nevertheless unlikely to set a new auction record for Magritte. The holder of that title is none other than “Le principe du plaisir” (“The Pleasure Principle”), which sold for $26.8 million (around P1.3 billion) at Sotheby’s New York in 2018.
“Le mois des vendanges” goes on sale alongside “Peinture” by Joan Miró and “Cage, forêt, et soleil noir” by Max Ernst, which are estimated to fetch £14 million (approx. $18.7 million or P901.2 million) and £3 million (approx. $4 million or P193.1 million) respectively. According to the Financial Times, neither of the two paintings has previously been sold on the market.
“Each of these works represents a major creative statement by their respective artists, as they boldly explored the central tenets and techniques of surrealism. They are a testament to Claude Hersaint’s connoisseurship and unwavering passion for surrealism,” said Olivier Camu, deputy chairman, of impressionist & modern art in Christie’s. CC