NEW YORK — New York City's big-ticket auctions of impressionist and modern art get underway Tuesday night.
Among the blue chip offerings is a still life by Vincent van Gogh painted weeks before his death. There's also a rare sculpture by Alberto Giacometti that could set a new auction record for the Swiss artist.
Sotheby's predicts "Still Life, Vase With Daisies and Poppies" could sell for $30 million to $50 million. Van Gogh painted the bouquet of wildflowers at the French home of his physician, Dr. Paul Gachet, in 1890. It's one of the few works the Dutch artist sold during his lifetime.
One of the founders of the Museum of Modern Art, A. Conger Goodyear, acquired it in 1928. It remained in the family for decades and was on permanent exhibition at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, for 30 years. It was purchased by the current owner around 1990.
The auction record for van Gogh is $82.5 million.
The sale also features a major work by Giacometti. "Chariot," a 1951 bronze sculpture of an elongated goddesslike figure perched atop a wheeled chariot, may eclipse the $104.3 million auction record for the artist. Sotheby's predicts it could sell for over $100 million.
The 1951 piece, embellished with paint to enrich the textural quality of the bronze, has been in the same collection for over 40 years. Giacometti made six casts of the "Chariot" during his lifetime. The one for sale is one of only two painted examples.
Another important sculpture at the sale is Amedeo Modigliani's "Tete." The deitylike elongated head was carved in 1911 and 1912 from a block of limestone scavenged from a Paris construction site. It has a presale estimate of $45 million. The auction record for any work by Modigliani is $69 million.
The auction house Bonhams, which is selling more than 700 items from the homes of Lauren Bacall, is offering two Henry Moore sculptures from her collection on Tuesday. The legendary actress' other artwork, jewelry and furniture will be offered for sale in March.
The major fall sales continue Wednesday at Christie's. Among the highlights is a celebrated portrait of a Parisian actress by Edouard Manet. "Spring" has a presale estimate of $25 million to $35 million.