René Magritte’s masterpiece reaches $ 9.9 million at Bonhams New York


New York РChez Ren̩ Magritte Shirtless in the clouds (around 1937) reached $ 9,978,312 at Bonhams White glove to sell of The Amalia Collection by Schulthess today (Tuesday 7 December), in New York. The work, which has remained invisible for the past 70 years Рand had never been auctioned before Рhad a pre-sale estimate of $ 6,000,000 Р9,000,000.

Combining the classic and the deeply surreal, Shirtless in the clouds featured two of René Magritte’s iconic motifs: clouds and a female torso. The work dates from around 1937, at the height of the surrealist movement. He came to Bonhams from the prestigious private collection of Amalia de Schulthess (1918-2021) and led the dedicated sole proprietorship sale of selected works from his impressive collection. Shirtless in the clouds was notably included in the 1948 Magritte exhibition at the Copley Galleries in Los Angeles.

The sale of 13 lots of white gloves totaled $ 15,218,808, of which 100% sold by lot and 100% sold by value.

Molly Ott Ambler, Head of Fine Arts for the Americas, said: “We are delighted with the results of today’s auction, and above all to have achieved such an impressive price for René Magritte’s masterpiece. Shirtless in the clouds. It was a signature work of the artist, and a highly significant painting in the work, exemplary of its first surrealist phase. The work also had exceptional provenance, being one of the most significant pieces in the incredible collection of Amalia de Schulthess.

Bruno Vinciguerra, Global CEO of Bonhams, noted, “Bonhams is delighted to have achieved such a fantastic result for this exquisite work by René Magritte. It was the first time that the surrealist masterpiece Shirtless in the clouds had been offered for auction, and we have once again shown our strength by obtaining impressive results for the major works of this period. We were also exceptionally satisfied – but not surprised – by Giacometti’s sublime bronze achieving such a stunning result. It really is a great job. “

Other highlights of the sale:

  • Figurine between two houses by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966), which sold for $ 4,950,312 against a presale estimate of $ 1,200,000 to $ 1,400,000.
  • A workhorse by Edgar Degas (1834-1917). Sold for $ 112,812.
  • Young Woman Lying Down, a drawing by Alberto Giacometti (1901-1966). Sold for $ 62,812.
  • Untitled (Totem), François Stahly (1911-2006). Sold for $ 40,312.

Amalia from Schulthess, the collector

Shirtless in the clouds (1937) by Ren̩ Magritte from the private collection of Amalia de Schulthess (1918, Oberaarch, Switzerland Р2021, Santa Monica, California).

Amalia de Schulthess grew up in Thurgau, Switzerland, and studied at State College Trogen, Appenzell Ausserrhoden and Kunstgewerbeschule, Zurich. She comes from a family of dedicated collectors and patrons. Indeed, his father knew Paul Klee closely and the artist visited them frequently. Klee was a key inspiration for Amalia; he encouraged her to express herself and engage in the pursuit of the creation of original works of art.

In 1941, Amalia emigrated to the United States to marry her fiancé, Hans de Schulthess (1918, Zurich, Switzerland – 1962, Vienna, Austria), born into a wealthy banking family. Amalia met Hans while studying in Trogen. Their parents didn’t approve of the match, and it was Amalia who suggested the daring move to America. The couple were first based in New York City, then eventually moved to Beverly Hills.

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While in New York (1941-1943), Amalia reconnects with Piet Mondrian and becomes her patron. She continued to create her own art, and this connection will prove to be as influential on her artistic trajectory as her first contact with Klee. Hans was also deeply involved in the arts as a patron and collector, and during his lifetime donated many works to the prestigious Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Tragically, he died in a car accident at the age of 44. By this time, Amalia and Hans had divorced but were still close friends.

Both Amalia and Hans have dedicated their lives to supporting artists and artistic institutions, as well as building a formidable collection. At the same time, Amalia focused on developing her own artistic practice. For most of her adult life, she created her art in California and New Mexico.

Personal exhibitions of Amalia’s work have taken place at the New Mexico Museum, Santa Fe (1956); the Esther Robles Gallery, Los Angeles (1956 and 1962); the Rose Rabow Gallery, San Francisco (1960); and the David Cole Gallery, San Francisco (1962). After the 1960s, Amalia turned from painting to sculpture and worked in Florence for a decade.

Amalia was represented by the Esther Robles Gallery, and it seems her connection to this space as an artist was completed by her role as a collector. she acquired Shirtless in the clouds by René Magritte from the merchant Esther Robles. The duality of Amalia’s position in the art world is perfectly summed up in this event.

Amalia de Schulthess passed away on May 28, 2021 in Santa Monica, leaving behind an extraordinary legacy.


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