Camille Pissarro – Boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps UPDATE: SOLD FOR £19.9 MILLION.
A restituted museum quality work, the greatest painting by Camille Pissarro ever to appear at auction, will be a highlight at Sotheby’s Impressionist and Modern art sale in London on February 5. The masterpiece, entitled Boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps dates from 1897 and is estimated at £7-10 million. It was originally owned by Max Silberberg a Jewish industrialist based in Breslau whose legendary collection of 19th and 20th century art included major works by leading names such as Corot, Courbet, Degas, Van Gogh and Manet.
Between 1935 and 1937, Silberberg’s collection was dispersed in a series of forced sales (or “Jewish auctions” as they were known), and soon after he and his wife Johanna were deported, first to Grüssau, and later to Theresienstadt and then Auschwitz where they perished. Thanks perhaps to a secret deal struck between Max and the authorities, Max and Johanna’s only son Alfred was released from Buchenwald concentration camp in 1938. He and his wife Gerta fled to England soon after, finding employment as a butler and a cook respectively.
Alfred Silberberg died in 1984. Some 16 years later, Boulevard Montmartre, matinée de printemps was restituted to Gerta. The painting had by then found its way into the collection of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and in recognition of the museum’s collaborative and exemplary approach, Gerta loaned the the painting back to the museum where it remained on display until her death earlier this year. It will be sold to benefit people and causes close to Gerta’s heart.
Helena Newman, chairman of Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art Department Europe, said: “It is an honour to be entrusted with offering the greatest work by Camille Pissarro ever to appear at auction – a work
that encompasses such a richly painted canvas and a supremely elegant composition. The appeal of these extremely desirable attributes to discerning collectors is enhanced by the painting’s history of having been
housed in a collection as important as Max Silberberg’s. With the enduring demand for Impressionist masterpieces – particularly works of such rarity as this work by Pissarro – we anticipate interest from around