|Left to right: Henry Moore, Lucian Freud, Francis Bacon|
The little foretold story would explain the steep increase we are experiencing in the expectations for a series of important art auctions, as well as their trajectory for British values. Sotheby’s surely leads the way with the two small-scale self-portraits by Francis Bacon, a single canvas from 1975 and a triptych from 1980, each of which is estimated to sell for £10 million to £15 million. The paintings will be offered in Sotheby’s contemporary art auction in London on July 1. In 2007, the Casiers sold a full-length Bacon self-portrait from 1978 for £21.6 million at Sotheby’s. Sotheby’s sale of Impressionist and modern works in London on June 24 will include Henry Moore’s “Two Women and a Child,” an imposing and previously unshown 1948 gouache and watercolor estimated at £300,000 to £400,000.
Crossing the road into Christie’s, Lucian Freud’s “Big Sue” returns on May 13, with the auction house offering another portrait from the painter’s famous “Benefits Supervisor” series during its postwar and contemporary art sales in New York. Seven years ago, at the height of the last art-market boom, Christie’s sold Freud’s monumental 1995 “Benefits Supervisor Sleeping” for $33.6 million to the Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich. Up for sale next month will be “Benefits Supervisor Resting,” from 1994, one of four nude studies of Sue Tilley, an amply proportioned local government officer, that Freud made over a three-year period, beginning in 1993, bearing an estimated price tag of $30 million to $50 million.