Saturday, September 25, 2021

Moralis Masterwork At Bonhams First Greek Sale In Paris

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Silhouette/ La bas au loin et près de la mer by Yiannis Moralis (1916-2009) is among the star lots at Bonhams Greek Sale in Paris on Wednesday 19 May. Painted in 2006, just three years before the artist’s death, it is estimated at €200,000-300,000.

Bonhams Greek Art specialist Anastasia Orfanidou said: “This late masterpiece encapsulates many of the themes that preoccupied Moralis throughout his career. The pared back geometric figures; the use of colour and the subtle mastery of illusion. A Moralis painting is always more than the sum of its parts and Silhouette/ La bas au loin et près de la mer is no exception. Bonhams has sold several works by Moralis over the past few years with many selling beyond their estimates.  I expect this picture to create great interest among collectors.”

The Greek sale is being held in Paris for this first time as part of Bonhams expansion in France and for the convenience of buyers, most of whom are based in Europe. Although the new venue is a departure from past Greek auctions, it is as ever a collaborative sale put together by Bonhams in London and our associates in Athens, Art Expertise.

Many of the artists featured in the sale have strong associations with Paris, including Moralis himself, who studied there in the late 1930s.  

Théodore Ralli, for example, spent most of his working life in France and his painting La Captive (estimate €300,000-500,000) is regarded as among his very finest works. It depicts a young Greek girl in traditional peasant costume held prisoner by soldiers of the Ottoman Empire in a desecrated church.. The unsentimental nobility of the young woman’s gaze invites the viewer to share her plight and, by extension, that of the Greek people.

Nikos Engonopoulos (Greek 1907-1985) whose 1939 painting Sur la guerre d’ Indépendance / Paysage orphique is estimated at €140,000-180,000 lived in Paris during  the 1920s and ’30s, studying, exhibiting widely and gaining a reputation as the leading Greek surrealist painter of his day.  Sur la guerre d’ Indépendance / Paysage orphique was exhibited at the 1954 Venice Biennale, where, for the first time, Greece was represented by one artist alone. Engonopoulos showed alongside such towering figures of modern art as Arp, Ernst, Miro, Klee, Bacon and Magritte. Sur la Guerre d’Indépendance (Paysage Orphique) is a leading example from the artist’s much sought after, highly desirable, pre-war period.

Selected highlights from the sale will be on preview in Athens at Amalias 36, Amalias Ave. 10558 from (5/5/2021 – 9/5/2021) and in Paris at Bonhams, 4 rue de la Paix from (14/5/2021 and 17 -18/5/21).

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