London – Operation Wednesday by the Surrealist painter Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) sold for £682,750 at Bonhams’ inaugural The Mind’s Eye / Surrealist Sale in London today (Thursday 25 March). It had been estimated at £300,000-500,000. In total, the 69-lot sale made £2,315,296 with 72% sold by lot and 84% sold by value.
Head of Sale, Ruth Woodbridge said: “The Mind’s Eye / Surrealist Sale was a new concept. We were confident that it would capture the imagination of collectors and the strong results demonstrate that our faith was justified. It is particularly encouraging to note that all the works by women Surrealist artists, Alice Rahon amongst them, far exceeded their estimates, with, of course, Leonora Carrington’s compelling Operation Wednesday emerging as the top lot.”
Executed in 1969, Operation Wednesday presents a fusion of Christian, Mayan, and esoteric symbolism. It also marks a critical decade in Carrington’s career when her art increasingly took on a socio-political message, demonstrating a firm allegiance to her adopted homeland, Mexico, where she had lived since 1943.
Specifically, Operation Wednesday pays homage to the student movement or Movimiento Estudiantil, led by the students and staff of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico (UNAM), which began on July 22, 1968. She commemorates those killed and injured in the massacre in Plaza de las Tres Culturas (Plaza of the Three Cultures) in Mexico City.
Other highlights included:
- Comète, by Max Ernst, dating from 1951. This was one of a number of works from the collection of his wife Dorothea Tanning. Sold for £250,250, the work had an estimate of £120,000-180,000.
- Another Ernst work from the Dorothea Tanning collection, La Tourangelle, sold for £162,750 having been estimated at £40,000-60,000.
Bonhams’ Impressionist and Modern Art sale held the same day saw Paysage (Repos sous l’arbre, Cagnes-Sur-Mer) by Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) achieved £300,250 against an estimate of £220,000-300,000. Painted in 1910, the work depicts the countryside around Les Collettes, the farm the artist and his family moved to in search of a warmer climate, and upon the advice of Renoir’s doctor to relieve the rheumatism which had struck at the height of the artist’s career.
Bonhams Global Head of Impressionist and Modern Art, India Phillips, said: “Today’s sales round off a highly successful week for Bonhams 20th and 21st century art departments which also saw Visage de Faune a 22-carat gold repoussé plate by Pablo Picasso sell for £312,750 in our Picassomania sale, and a new world record at auction for a drawing by William Kentridge of £682,750 for Large Typewriters at the Post-War & Contemporary Sale.”