Giacometti sketch a highlight of Cavan auction
Works by Schiele and ‘possibly’ Miró sell for modest sums
A sketch by d Alberto Giacometti sold for €650 at Victor Mee’s auction house.
Among the stuffed animals, leather Chesterfields and vintage metallic adverts, a rural Cavan auction house recently had at least two art works by luminaries of the 20th century art world for sale.
The art works were offered for sale by an American couple who relocated to Co Leitrim and wanted to downsize their eclectic art collection to indulge their new passion of collecting clocks on their limited wall space.
The Giacometti was arguably the pick of the lots. Primarily a sculptor, Giacometti’s energetic sketches are nevertheless prized. This example was of a figure standing in the midst of the clutter of an artist’s studio. Due to convenience, the artist’s workshop was a frequent subject of Giacometti’s sketches, possibly as a warm-up exercise in preparation for his more involved works.
Bidding started at €120, in the room, but, to the bemusement of some looking at the quick-fire sketch projected on the screen above the auctioneer, two online bidders soon dominated proceedings. The hammer fell at €650 to an international buyer in just under two minutes.
An almost identical Giacometti original lithograph dating from 1951, with the same dimensions [15 inches x 22] titled Man Walking, is advertised for sale at a Massachusetts gallery for $2,750 (€2,344). The gallery also explains that one of the casts of Man Walking set a world record for a sculpture at $104.3 million.
Giacometti was a friend of Samuel Beckett, whom he met in Paris in the 1930s, and they collaborated most notably on the skeletal tree in a 1961 production of Waiting for Godot. Another friend of Giacometti was Joan Miró to whom a painting sold at Mee’s may also be attributed.
Brian Mee of the auction house, who liaised with the vendor, explained that she had no doubt that it was a Miró, however to have the unsigned work authenticated would have cost in the region of $4,000 with no guarantee of the outcome. Stylistically, it’s at the very least a very attractive homage to the great Catalan artist. That it was unsigned was reflected in the price achieved of €220.
“Once they’re unsigned, it’s difficult to get it verified,” Victor Mee said after the sale.
Dated 1909, the Schiele pencil drawing would have been completed when he was still only 19. At this age the precocious Viennese artist had already had his first exhibition in Klosterneuburg. Frustrated by the conservatism of his training in the Akademie der bildenden Künste he along with other students left to found the Neukunstgruppe (New Art Group). The influence of Gustav Klimt that featured in much of his juvenilia is absent in this pencil drawing, however – the confident, almost aggressive lines and angular joints in his life studies are apparent.
Bidding started at €80 and after numerous bids on the internet and in the room it was eventually sold in the room for €280.