Auctions | March 11, 2019

Ismar Littmann Family Collection Shines at Swann Galleries

llloagmaieflheaa.jpgNew York - Swann Galleries’ sale of 19th & 20th Century Prints & Drawings on March 5 earned $2.7M, with property from the Ismar Littmann Family Collection of German Expressionism & European Avant-Garde forming the cornerstone of the auction. 

Of the Littmann Family collection Todd Weyman, Prints & Drawings Director and Vice President of the house, noted, “We are very pleased with sale of property from the Littmann Family. We surpassed the total low estimate for the collection and saw active bidding for items from both American and European private collectors alike with Käthe Kollwitz, Otto Mueller, Emil Orlik and Max Pechstein being standout artists.”  

Top lots from the collection included Sommer I, 1912, by Max Pechstein, which surged past its high estimate of $15,000, bringing $81,250, a record for the work, as well as Pechstein’s Reisebilder: Italien-Sudsee, 1919, which earned $25,000. A pair of color lithographs from 1926-27 by Otto Mueller-Lagernde Zigeunerfamilie mit Ziege and Zwei Zigeunerinnen (Zigeunermutter mit Tochter)-brought top prices at $32,500 and $25,000, respectively. Emil Orlik’s oil on board, Still leben, 1914, topped its low estimate at $16,250, and a 1905 charcoal figure study by Käthe Kollwitz garnered $27,500.  

The afternoon portion of the sale did not slow, bringing the top lot of the auction: Van Gogh’s only etching, Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, 1890, with $106,250. Salvador Dalí followed close behind with the watercolor, Don Quichotte e Sancio Panza, 1964, at $100,000, while La Conquête du Cosmos I & II, a 1974 complete set of 12 color drypoints by the artist, brought $31,200. 

Additional works by Modernist stalwarts included Roses et Mimosa, a color lithograph from 1975 by Marc Chagall at $27,500; Joan Miró’s color aquatint, Le Permissionaire, 1974, with $47,500. Picasso’s Tête sur Fond noir, sold for $25,000, a record for the 1953 lithograph. Also of note was Sonia Delaunay’s exuberant color pochoir and watercolor illustration of Blaise Cendrars’ poem La Prose du Transsibérien et de la petite Jehanne de France, 1913, which earned $87,500.

Edvard Munch was well represented in the sale with a run of lithographs: Harpyie, 1899, which depicts the denizen of the underworld over a skeleton brought $30,000, and Alfas død, 1908-09, whose composition bears similarities to Munch’s iconic Scream garnered $22,500; both were record-setting prices for the works. August Strindberg, an 1896 portrait of the Swedish poet, writer and close friend of the artist was won for $30,000.

Italian masters were present with Giorgio Morandi’s 1956 etching, Natura Morta con Cinque Oggetti, which exemplified the primary focus of the artist’s oeuvre, brought $47,500, and Femme nue, a 1915 pencil drawing by Amedeo Modigliani earned $33,800.

Additional highlights included Winslow Homer’s line-based etching of rural women, Mending the Tears, 1888, which set a record with $30,000, and Illustrations of the Book of Job, 1826, by William Blake, a complete set of 22 engravings, saw a price of $87,500.

The next auction of Prints & Drawings will be held on May 2 with Old Master Through Modern Prints. Visit or download the Swann Galleries app for catalogues, bidding and inquiries.

Image: Lot 258: Vincent van Gogh, Homme à la Pipe: Portrait du Docteur Gachet, etching, 1890. Sold for $106,250.