Christie’s Presents The Estate of Sophie F. Danforth


EDGAR DEGAS (1834-1917) Danseuse à la barre gouache, pastel and pencil on paper laid down on card 7 x 8 7/8 in. (17.8 x 22.6 cm.) Executed in 1877 $2,000,000-3,000,000

NEW YORK – Christie’s is honored to announce The Estate of Sophie F. Danforth, which will highlight the 20th Century Evening Sale on May 11, 2023 at Rockefeller Center in New York City. Featuring five superb examples by Renoir, Degas, Daumier, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Goya, the collection is expected to realize in excess of $8,000,000.

PIERRE-AUGUSTE RENOIR (1841-1919) Square de la Trinité oil on canvas 21 3/8 x 25 3/4 in. (54.3 x 65.4 cm.) Painted in 1878-1879 $4,000,000-6,000,000

The leading highlight of the collection is Square de la Trinité by Impressionist master Renoir (estimate: $4,000,000 – 6,000,000). In the Danforth collection for ninety years, the work has been featured in major international exhibitions throughout the 20th century, including at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, the Art Institute of Chicago and the 2007 exhibition of Renoir’s landscapes, which traveled to the National Gallery in London, the National Gallery of Canada and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Max Carter, Christie’s Vice Chairman, 20th and 21st Century Art, remarks, “Sometimes collections tell us as much about the collectors as they do their time and place. In 1877, Helen Adelia Rowe Metcalf co-founded the Rhode Island School of Design. In 1931, Helen Metcalf Danforth became its president, following in the footsteps of her grandmother, and aunt, Eliza Greene Metcalf Radeke. Over the next two decades, Helen turned RISD into an accredited degree-granting institution and transformed its museum while, with her husband Murray, buying jewel-like Impressionist paintings and works on paper. To see the Degas, which likely hung in the 3rd Impressionist show in 1877, Renoir, Daumier and Lautrec together is to peer over Helen’s shoulder and join in her adventures 90 years ago. We are particularly honored to offer the rare and remarkable drawing by Goya, the last old master and the first of the moderns, in our 20th-Century Sale, alongside so many artists whom he influenced and showed the way.”

FRANCISCO DE GOYA (1746-1828) A horse covering a she-donkey, while straddling its owner, a monk black chalk, brush and brown wash on paper 8 1/8 x 5 5/8 in. (20.5 x 14.3 cm) $800,000-1,200,000
image 26
Les trois juges
gouache, watercolor, brush and pen and India ink, ink wash and black chalk on paper
7 5/8 x 6 in. (19.3 x 15.3 cm.)
$ 300,000-500,000
image 27
Au cirque: Eléphant en liberté
black and colored chalk and pencil on paper
14 x 9.3/4 in. (35.5 x 25.4 cm.)
Drawn in 1899
$ 400,000-600,000 

The collection also includes superlative works on paper by Impressionist masters Degas, Daumier and Toulouse-Lautrec. Degas’s Danseuse à la barre (estimate: $2,000,000 – 3,000,000),an exquisite pastel believed by scholars to be probably among the works by the artist on view at the third Impressionist exhibition in 1877. This work has been in the collection since 1936.

Les Trois Juges by Daumier (estimate: $ 300,000 – 500,000) comes from the artist’s celebrated series exploring and critiquing the dynamics within the courtroom. Toulouse-Lautrec’s Au cirque: Eléphant en liberté (estimate: $400,000 – 600,000) depicts an elephant on hind legs reacting to the commands of its trainer in costume, comes from the limited series of just 50 works by the artist produced in 1899 during his time confined to the Folie Saint James asylum in the suburbs of Paris.

The final work rounding out the evening sale selection is an extraordinarily rare drawing by Goya (estimate $800,000 – 1,200,000), representing the first time Spanish master has been included in any Christie’s 20th Century Evening Sale. This follows the notable sale of the artist’s record-breaking result for the Portrait of Doña María Vicenta Barruso Valdés and Portrait of her mother Doña Leonora Antonia Valdés de Barruso which sold for $16.4 million in an Old Masters auction in January.

Further highlights from the collection will be offered in the Impressionist & Modern Day and Works on Paper Sale on May 13th.

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