The cover of Sotheby’s London Impressionist and modern art sale catalog features “Les Peupliers à Giverny,’’ one of Monet’s depictions of poplar trees in the fields at the edge of his property in Giverny. Painted in 1887, it captures the sunset of early autumn. Sotheby’s is auctioning the work on Feb. 3; it is estimated to sell for $13.8 million to $18.4 million.
One of five Monets included in Sotheby’s sale, this one is particularly interesting because of the seller – the Museum of Modern Art in New York. The catalog says it is being sold to “benefit the acquisitions fund.”
In an email, a spokeswoman for the museum said, “This painting is an example of an Impressionist style that precedes the starting point of the museum’s painting collection.”
Careful readers of auction catalogs will notice a symbol beside the painting’s lot number signifying that Sotheby’s has what it calls an “irrevocable bid” on the painting. That means that a buyer has already agreed to purchase it for an undisclosed sum but that if someone wants to pay more, the person who made that arrangement with Sotheby’s will receive a percentage of the difference between the price agreed upon and what it sells for.
Before being given to MoMA in 1951 by the New York collectors William B. Jaffe and his wife, Evelyn, “Les Peupliers à Giverny” belonged to the Art Institute of Chicago, which sold it in 1947.
The painting will be on view at Sotheby’s in New York from Jan. 21 through Jan. 23 along with other highlights from the sale.