Le Cirque, a rare, complete portfolio of 38 lithographs by the Russian/French artist Marc Chagall (1887-1985) sold for £149,000 at Bonhams Prints and Multiple Sale in London today (27 June). The auction achieved £1,025,750, with 80% of lots sold by value.
Bonhams Director of Prints, Lucia Tro Santafe said, "Le Cirque is one of the finest examples of Chagall's printmaking, and I am not surprised that bidders were so keen to own such a vibrant and colorful collection. This was my first sale since joining Bonhams, and I look forward to building on this success at future Prints and Multiples auctions."
Chagall's fascination with the circus and its performers dates from his childhood in pre-revolutionary Vitebsk (then part of the Russian Empire; now in Belarus). The 38 lithographs that make up Le Cirque are joyous and exuberant. The scenes feature familiar circus characters, from acrobats to bareback riders – as well as some less familiar ones, including two-headed beasts and a female performer in a red dress sleeping on top of a lion.
Other highlights included:
- Banksy's Balloon Girl Screenprint in black and red, 2004, achieved £65,000.
- Two works by Andy Warhol, Flowers Screenprint in colors and Volkswagen, from Ads Screenprint in colors, sold above their estimates of £18,000-25,000, at £37,500 and £31,250 respectively.
- The next Prints and Multiples sale will take place at 1pm on Wednesday 5 July at Bonhams Knightsbridge.