Francis Bacon, Triptych (1986-7)
20th/1st Century: London Evening Sale, Christie’s, 1 March
Christie’s is one of the principal sponsors of the current Francis Bacon: Man and Beast exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts (until April 17). And, as luck would have it, this month it is also selling this huge triptych by the son of an Irish racehorse trainer, which depicts the former US president Woodrow Wilson leaving the 1919 Treaty of Versailles negotiations to the left, an image inspired by a photograph of Leon Trotsky’s study after his assassination to the right and, in the centre, a figure resembling Bacon’s partner at the time, John Edwards. First exhibited at the Marlborough Gallery in New York in 1987, the work was then shown at the Central House of Artists’ Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow in 1988 and is now one of only a few large-scale triptychs by Bacon left in private hands.
Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin, The Basket of Wild Strawberries (1761)
Old Master and 19th-century art sale, Artcurial, Paris, 23 March
Rarely do you see an 18th-century still life depicting an opulent mound of juicy strawberries, which makes this composition by Jean-Baptiste-Siméon Chardin all the more tasty. Painted in 1761, The Basket of Wild Strawberries is the only still life by Chardin to depict the fruit. The small, 38cm by 46cm painting was exhibited at the Salon of 1761 and entered the collection of Eudoxe Marcille around a century later—it has remained in the hands of his descendants ever since. The painting is being sold in collaboration with the Paris-based expert Eric Turquin, known for his Old Master “barn finds”. The auction house describes the strawberries as “one of the most emblematic images of the French 18th century”.
Arpita Singh, Woman Plucking Flowers (1994)
The collection of Mahinder and Sharad Tak, Christie’s New York, 23 March
Arpita Singh, India’s most expensive living female artist at auction, painted this work soon after she shifted from working in watercolour to oil on canvas. Her work from the 1990s is marked by depictions of violence and violation as she began to convey the oppression experienced by women in India, evidenced here by a man pointing a gun at a naked woman stooping to pick flowers. This lot was first exhibited at Vadehra Art Gallery in New Delhi in 1994, where it was bought by the Indian-American couple Mahinder and Sharad Tak. The Taks, who live in Maryland, US, have consigned it as part of a 77-lot single owner sale that includes a Bhupen Khakhar painting which could set a new auction record for the artist. While this work by Singh, measuring 150cm x 165cm, is unlikely to break her record of $2.2m, achieved for a much larger canvas at the Indian auction house Saffronart in 2010, it is at the upper range for works of a comparable size.