A double-sided canvas by Fernand Léger headlines this incredible private art collection that goes up for auction next month at Phillips.
Living the Avant-Garde: The Triton Collection Foundation, one of the best collections ever presented at Phillips, will be sold at 432 Park Avenue in New York on 14 November. The collection consists of 30 works, most of which have never been sold at auction, and is estimated to be worth $70 million. It contains key examples of Impressionist and Modern art, as well as post-war art. Highlights include Edgar Degas' Le petit déjeuner après le bain ($2.5-3.5 million), Pablo Picasso's Femme en corset lisant un livre ($15-20 million) and Joan Mitchell's Untitled ($7-10 million).
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The collection was acquired by Dutch shipping and oil magnate Willem Cordia and his wife Marijke van der Laan. After Cordia's death in 2011, the artworks were transferred to the Triton Collection Foundation, which today is led by Cordia's two children.
The Triton Collection Foundation has assembled an outstanding collection of avant-garde works by the leading Western artists of the 19th and 20th centuries. Willem and Marijke took the time to research artists and movements to find out which works they wanted to acquire for the collection. They then made sure to share as many works as possible with the public. Several works have been on long- and short-term loan to museums around the world.
Keesjan Cordia of the Triton Collection Foundation said, "The Triton Collection Foundation’s mission for the last three decades has been to assemble a group of artworks created by the pioneers and ‘innovators’ of their time, those who broke the boundaries of the traditional movements and searched for new ways to see the world. Our parents dedicated themselves to sharing that collection with the wider public. They took great care and pride in the works that they have chosen to acquire; never adding works that do not fit the quality or standard of the collection and always patently waiting for those unique pieces they knew were out there."
An example of this is Fernand Léger's double-sided canvas Le 14 juillet from 1912-1913, which is one of the auction's most expensive works ($15-20 million). On the front of the canvas is a cubist interpretation of Bastille Day, and on the back is a newly discovered work from the series Fumées sur les toits. The series depicts the view of the rooftops of Paris seen from Léger's studio. Smoke plumes, chimneys and the tower of Notre-Dame inspired the artist to steer his cubist paintings in an even more abstract and colourful direction.
See also: Fernand Léger: Art in Full Swing
Fumées sur les toits was hidden on the back of the canvas for several years and was considered too damaged to be restored. But thanks to the hard work of conservators, the painting was saved, and it was exhibited for the first time last year at the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands.
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The exhibition Living the Avant-Garde: The Triton Collection Foundation, on display in Paris, Hong Kong, and Los Angeles before the sale in New York, is a unique opportunity for both collectors and enthusiasts to experience these extraordinary works of art displayed together for the first time.