NEW YORK — A rare marble sculpture by Auguste Rodin sold for a record $20.4 million at Sotheby’s sale of impressionist and modern art.
Rodin’s Eternal Springtime was created out of a single block of marble in 1901-1903. It features a floral motif base of two lovers in a passionate embrace and is believed to be the fifth in a series of 10 known carvings of the subject that Rodin created in marble.
The previous auction record for any Rodin sculpture was Iris, Messenger of the Gods, a bronze work owned by Sylvester Stallone that sold for $16.6 million in February.
Other highlights among the 62 works offered at the May 9 evening sale included Paul Signac’s The Port Houses, Saint-Trope. It sold for $10.7 million, well within its presale estimate of $8 to $12 million.
An important example of the pointillist style, the bright painting depicts the French coastal town of Saint-Tropez in 1882. It was the first time the neo-impressionist artist had visited the town, a place he returned to often.
The Saint-Tropez painting has been in the same family for nearly 60 years, purchased in 1958 by the parents of John Langeloth Loeb Jr., the former U.S. Ambassador to Denmark.
The auction record for a Signac work is $14 million, achieved in 2007.
Sotheby’s also offered two major works created during the short-lived Fauve period. Maurice de Vlaminck’s 1905 landscape near Paris, Underbrush, brought in $16.4 million.
The auction record for de Vlaminck is $22.5 million, set in 2011.
Another Fauve painting, Andre Derain’s 1906 view of the River Thames, Red Sails, went unsold. It was estimated to sell between $15 and $20 million.
Fauvism was characterized by its use of saturated colors and simplified forms as a way to express the artist’s emotions. It lasted a short three years, and only four major Fauve paintings have come to auction since 2010.
The sale also featured an early portrait of Claude Monet’s wife Camille. It sold for 49.4 million.
Works by Pablo Picasso, Joan Miro, and Edvard Munch also were up for bidding Monday night.
On May 11, Sotheby’s will be offering contemporary works including a self-portrait by Andy Warhol and a blue canvas from Cy Twombly’s Blackboard series.