Renoir oil painting sells for R4 575 million

French impressionist artist Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s Fruits (Oranges et Citrons).

A still life by pioneer French impressionist Pierre-Auguste Renoir topped Transcending Boundaries, Strauss & Co’s live-virtual auction of modern and contemporary international art on Wednesday, October 25.

Renoir’s Fruits (Oranges et Citrons), painted in 1912 and recently authenticated by a Paris certifying authority, was knocked down by managing executive, Susie Goodman, to a telephone bidder for R4.575 million (US$238 300) after 23 bids.

Capetonians had the opportunity to see the Renoir oil on canvas when it was exhibited at Strauss & Co’s premises in Woodstock in the days leading up to the auction.

Transcending Boundaries featured 110 works by artists from the Americas, Asia Pacific, British Isles and Europe consigned from various South African collections. The auction earned a total of R8.825 million ($462 250) from 83 lots sold.

“Strauss & Co is honoured to have been able to handle Renoir’s gorgeous painting Fruits (Oranges et Citrons),” said Goodman after the auction.

“This late-career gem is the first work by Renoir on the African continent to be certified by the Wildenstein Plattner Institute and will appear in its digitised catalogue raisonné for the artist. We undertook this authentication exercise to ensure the work’s legitimacy and underscore our credibility as Africa’s premier auction house to new international buyers.”

Noteworthy individual results in the modern category included Joan Miró, John Piper, Joža Uprka and William Wyllie. Respected Czech painter Joža Uprka’s large oil Woman in Traditional Dress sold to a telephone bidder for R485 205 ($25 386).

Many lots exceeded their pre-sale estimates, notably print editions by Marc Chagall and Lynn Chadwick.

Anne Marie Nivoulies de Pierrefort, a French-born Brazilian painter who studied under Renoir and Pierre Bonnard, was one of a number of painters to successfully debut at auction in South Africa. They included Anthony Fry, a distinguished mid-century painter who won the Prix de Rome in 1950.

The catalogue of contemporary works, while proportionally smaller, included attractive works by Mr Brainwash, Tracey Emin, Takashi Murakami and Tom Wesselmann, which all found buyers. Much loved for his clean pop lines, Tom Wesselmann’s 1981 graphic Helen Nude fetched R 117 250 ($$6 130).