Art Market

A Francis Bacon portrait of George Dyer and a trove of Philip Gustons are among 37 newly consigned works for Sotheby’s May sales.

Benjamin Sutton
Mar 6, 2019 4:12PM, via press release

Francis Bacon, Study for Portrait, 1981, oil and dry transfer lettering on canvas. Est. $12 million–$18 million. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Last month, in Sotheby’s 2018 earnings call, CEO Tad Smith teased a “very strong pipeline of potential consignments,” adding that there was “still much being competed for right now, especially for New York in May.” Today, the auction house revealed one of the consignments in the pipeline for its May sales in New York: 37 works from the collection of the Gerald L. Lennard Foundation, the charitable organization established by the eponymous copper magnate, who died in March 2018.

The marquee lot in the group of works is Francis Bacon’s final portrait of his lover George Dyer, Study for Portrait (1981), which is expected to fetch between $12 million and $18 million—another of Bacon’s Dyer portraits, from 1977, sold for $49.8 million at rival house Christie’s in May 2018 on an estimate of $30 million.

Philip Guston, Legs, Rug, Floor, 1976, oil on canvas. Est. $6 million–$8 million. Courtesy Sotheby’s.

Also included in the consignment are:

  • Willem de Kooning’s large abstract canvas Untitled X (1975), which has a pre-sale estimate of $8 million to $12 million;
  • Max Beckmann’s Liegender Akt in starker Verkürzung (Reclining Nude Sharply Foreshortened) from 1948, which is expected to bring $3 million to $5 million;
  • And what Sotheby’s has dubbed “the most comprehensive group of late works by Philip Guston,” a trove that includes the large figurative works Red Sky (1978) and Legs, Rug, Floor (1976), both of which have pre-sale estimates of $6 million to $8 million.

In a statement, Sotheby’s Europe chairman Oliver Barker said:

Gerald Lennard was a devoted collector who actively sought works of extraordinary emotional and psychological weight, which ultimately demonstrates their essential humanity. His personal integrity and honesty are matched by these grand explorations of the human condition—upon entering his New York apartment, visitors were immediately greeted by a fantastic trilogy of works by Guston that fully embodied this ethos.

Works from the consignment are on view at Sotheby’s London salesroom through Friday, and will go on view in the auction house’s revamped New York galleries ahead of the sales in May.

Benjamin Sutton
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