Christie’s, the current market leader in global sales of Impressionist, Modern, Post-War and Contemporary Art, will offer Amedeo Modigliani’s masterpiece Nu couché (Reclining Nude) as the centerpiece of a special curated Evening Sale of 20th Century art focused on the theme “The Artist’s Muse”.
The sale will take place in New York City on Monday, November 9. The painting, executed in 1917-18, is one of a series of great female nudes made for Léopold Zboroswki that famously caused a scandal nearly a century ago when they were exhibited at Modigliani’s first and only one-man show at the Galerie Berthe Weill in Paris. Outraged by the content of this show — which caused a crowd to form outside the gallery window where one of Modigliani’s nudes was openly on display — the police demanded the immediate closure of the exhibition.
The upcoming sale this November marks the first time this portrait is appearing at auction. Estimated to exceed $100 million, the portrait is expected to break the standing world auction record of $70.7 million for any work by Modigliani.
Jussi Pylkkänen, Christie’s Global President and Chief Auctioneer comments, “This is quite simply one of the most important paintings I have handled in my long career at Christie’s. There are a very small number of masterpieces that we dream of handling: this magnificent Modigliani has always been one of them. This powerful and noble female nude is a work of timeless beauty and one of the greatest works by the artist. It is a particular honour to be entrusted with the sale of this painting as my own area of expertise has always been the early 20th Century avant-garde, the paintings that shook the foundations of convention.” Mariolina Bassetti, Christie’s Chairman and International Director, Italy, added, “This is the painting that defines Modigliani”.
Originally in the collection of Modigliani’s mentor, friend, and dealer, Léopold Zboroswki, Nu couché (Reclining Nude) has been so widely and frequently published and referred to over the past century that it has become one of the most recognized images of early 20th century paintings and represents one of Modigliani’s best known works.
The painting has also been featured in major museum shows around the world, including the Palais des Beaux Arts in Brussels, the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris, the Tate Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the Palazzo Reale in Milan.