Impressionists back in favour thanks to Asia, Russia buyers

After being out in the cold, Impressionist works are set to shoot to favour at major art auctions in London this week as buyers from Asia and Russia step in where Japanese collectors once feared to tread.

"Since mid-2009 there's been a strong demand for Impressionist works, which had been squeezed out for three years prior due to the boom in contemporary art," said Samuel Valette, head of Impressionist and Modern Art at Sotheby's France.

The accent currently is on quality, he said, with a fold of new buyers from Asia and Russia, as well as European and US investors, "looking for the very best", he said.

That meant not only the aesthetic quality of a work but also its origin, he said.

One such piece is a rare water lily painting by Claude Monet, among dozens of modern masterpieces offered for sale by Christie's on Wednesday in London in what is being billed as the "most valuable" art auction ever held in the city.

Painted in 1906, "Nympheas" is part of the French Impressionist's iconic Nympheas series and was purchased directly from the artist three years later by dealer Paul Durand-Ruel, whose descendants kept it through several generations.

Sold at auction in New York in 2000 to a private collector for 22 million dollars (not including fees), it is expected this week to fetch between 30 and 40 million pounds (44.5 to 59.4 million dollars, 35.9 to 47.9 million euros).

Christie's has said it expects the London sale of 63 modern and impressionist artworks on June 23 to raise between 163 and 231 million pounds (196-276 million euros, 240-338 million dollars).

Impressionist oils enjoyed a golden age on the art market in the late 1980s, when enthusiastic Japanese buyers sent prices soaring for the best as well as the not-quite-best works produced by the turn-of-the-19th-century school.

When investors from Japan dropped out of the market however after 1990, due to the economic squeeze, Impressionism took a dive, Valette said.

"Nowadays the market is more balanced. The Japanese are still present but so are Russians, the rest of Asia, America and Europe.

For some new investors, "Impressionism is a first step in joining the art market", said Thomas Seydoux, Christie's international director of Impressonist and modern art.

First-time buyers appreciate the movement's "decorative side, the bright colours, the contrasting shade", he said.

In the last few years however the market has evolved, with collectors nowadays going for works from the post-1890s rather than earlier oils from 1870 to 1880.

"Tastes have changed in favour of works with more matter," said Seydoux, referring to the switch from oils depicting rural scenes to urban Impressionist works.

Among the top 15 works sold under the hammer for over 50 million dollars, Monet is in 8th position with a 1919 "Water-Lily Pond" that went for 40.9 million pounds (80 million dollars) in 2008 in London.

Renoir's "Au Moulin de la Galette" is in 9th position after fetching 78.1 million dollars in 1990 in New York.

But in May, a 1932 painting by Pablo Picasso set a world art auction record when it sold for a staggering 106.4 million dollars, signalling a renewed confidence in the market.

"When the recession was at its height, people felt that there was no point in selling the pictures if the market was weak because there was no money around," London art dealer Johnny van Haeften told AFP.

Arts and Entertainment
Call The Midwife: Miranda Hart as Chummy

tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods

Arts and Entertainment
Legendary blues and rock singer Joe Cocker has died of lung cancer, his management team as confirmed. He was 70
music The singer has died aged 70
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams looks concerned as Arya Stark
tv
Arts and Entertainment
photography Incredible images show London's skyline from its highest points
Arts and Entertainment
'Silent Night' last topped Classic FM's favourite Christmas carol poll in 2002
classical
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Rhys says: 'I'm not playing it for laughs, but I have learnt that if you fall over on stage, people can enjoy that as much as an amazing guitar solo'
musicGruff Rhys on his rock odyssey, and the trouble with independence
Arts and Entertainment
Krysia and Daniel (Hand out press photograph provided by Sally Richardson)
How do today's composers answer the challenge of the classical giant?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
News
Shenaz Treasurywala
film
News
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Watkins as Christopher Jefferies
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Star Wars Director JJ Abrams: key character's names have been revealed
film
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell Williams won two BBC Music Awards for Best Song and International Artist
music
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

    'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

    Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
    Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

    Ed Balls interview

    'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
    He's behind you, dude!

    US stars in UK panto

    From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

    Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

    What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

    Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

    Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

    Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
    Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

    Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

    Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
    Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

    Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

    Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

    Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
    Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

    Autism-friendly theatre

    Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

    Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

    Panto dames: before and after

    From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

    Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

    Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

    Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
    The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

    The man who hunts giants

    A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there