Carl Moll Painting Sells for Record $4.8 M. –

On Tuesday, Philadelphia-based auction house Freemans sold Viennese artist Carl Moll’s White Interior (1905) for a record-breaking $ 4.75 million during his European art and Old Masters sale, bringing in a total of $ 6.4 million .

The result for the minor painting marks the highest price paid for a single lot in the history of the house, surpassing the $ 3.1 million paid for a Chinese vase in 2011. The Tuesday sale is now the largest auction ever held at Freemans. White Interior also surpassed Moll’s previous record of 385,700 US dollars, which the artist paid for a landscape at the Austrian auction house Dorotheum in 2007.

The record-breaking painting, which the art critic Berta Zuckerkandl-Szeps shows in her Döbling apartment in a pure white color palette, appeared on the market after more than a century of private ownership. It comes from a German family collection and has been bequeathed to the California-based heirs of the original owners since the 1970s. It is the only figurative minor painting that has ever been auctioned.

On the subject of matching items

“Everyone thought it was lost because it was only known through a black and white photo from an exhibition in 1905,” said Raphael Chatroux, European art specialist and old masters at Freemans. “In fact, we believe the work was purchased directly from our shipper’s family. We don’t know if they bought it directly from the artist, but we think it is very likely that it was bought right after it was exhibited in Vienna in 1908, otherwise the artist would have continued to exhibit it. “

The painting was first exhibited in Berlin in 1905 and later in the following year at the Folkwang Museum in Essen. It was last shown publicly in 1908 at the Vienna Art Show, together with Gustav Klimt’s icon The Kiss (which is now in the Belvedere Museum).

Moll was one of the founding members of the Vienna Secession movement. With a market mostly focused on Europe, it is known for its idyllic domestic scenes. Moll, who supported National Socialism, committed suicide in Vienna after the defeat of Germany in 1945.

Part of the success of White Interior is due to its theme – another Moll portrait by Zuckerkandl-Szeps is in a private collection. According to Chatroux, Zuckerkandl-Szeps played a diplomatic role in maintaining artistic ties between French and Austrian artists during World War I. By the Second World War, the Jewish intellectual fled to Paris and then to Magreb. “She was well known for her modern and bold views because she wrote in newspapers to defend avant-garde artists,” Chatroux said. “She was a huge supporter of Klimt, especially when he was painting nudes that were seen as a little too realistic and graphic.”

After a lengthy tendering period of just under 10 minutes, in which a dozen parties participated, an American collector won the work. After the sale, the auction house reported that the anonymous buyer planned to exhibit the work in New York’s Neue Galerie, which houses the impressive German and Viennese art collection of New York investor Ronald Lauder. The Neue Galerie did not respond to a request for comment.

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