One of earliest collections of impressionists to be sold at Christie’s

LONDON. One of the earliest surviving British collections of impressionist and Ecole de Paris works is being broken up for sale at Christie’s in six auctions. Although recorded as being consigned anonymously, the works are being sold by the descendants of Mr and Mrs Alexander Margulies, from London.

The sales are on 27 April (Tel Aviv), 7 May (New York, day and works on paper sales), 5 June (Amsterdam), 25 June (London) and 1 July (London), and are expected to raise £4m.

The most important group is of five Pissarros, comprising two oil paintings and three watercolours. These include La Récolte des Pommes de Terre, Pontoise, 1874, previously owned by the artist’s son Lucien, which will be offered on 7 May, with an estimate of $700,000-$900,000. Other works are by artists including Georges Braque, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Fernand Léger, Georges Rouault, Albert Marquet and Maurice Utrillo.

Alexander Margulies (1902-91) was born in Galicia, moving to London in 1931. By the eve of World War II, he had become Britain’s largest horological importer, buying clock movements from factories in China and Hong Kong, assembled in the UK by Time Products.

He and his wife Stella began to collect impressionism and Ecole de Paris works in depth in the 1930s. They became friends with Chagall, Derain, Léger, Modigliani and Soutine. The couple made a number of donations to Tate and in 1965 Alexander Margulies became chairman of the Ben Uri Gallery in London. Martin Bailey

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