Newly Discovered Works by Picasso and Schjerfbeck – A Unique Collection at Auction

A Swedish collection of works of art signed by the great giants of the 20th century will go under the hammer at the end of the month. Join us on an art historical journey as we present the treasures from the collection of legendary music professor Gottfrid Boon.

Article sponsored byHallands Auktionsverk
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 'Femme Se Coiffant', ink, signed and dated 19/8/52, with an original verso label from Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 65.5 x 50.5 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk (detail)
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 'Femme Se Coiffant', ink, signed and dated 19/8/52, with an original verso label from Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 65.5 x 50.5 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk (detail)

On Thursday, October 27, 18 works by both Swedish and international artists of the 20th century will be presented at Hallands Auktionsverk in Halmstad, Sweden. Headlining the sale are newly discovered works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Helene Schjerfbeck. Joan Miró, Georges Braque and Marc Chagall are also featured, and Swedish art is represented by – among others – Carl Kylberg, Karl Isaksson and Sigrid Hjertén.

The works of art are part of the legendary music professor Gottfrid Boon's collection, which will be auctioned for a total estimated value of SEK 10-15 million (around $880,000 - $1.3 million).

Gottfrid Boon, sat at his piano in front of four paintings by Helene Schjerfbeck. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk
Gottfrid Boon, sat at his piano in front of four paintings by Helene Schjerfbeck. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk

Johan Gottfrid Boon (1886-1981) was educated at the Royal Music Conservatory and later worked as a piano teacher at the Royal Academy of Music. Several generations of famous Swedish musicians studied with Boon. In 1938 he was elected member no. 621 of the Royal Academy of Music, and in 1960 he was awarded Sweden's Medal for the Promotion of Music. The following year, Gottfrid Boon received the Illis Quorum medal, awarded for outstanding contributions to Swedish culture.

Boon was not only one of Sweden's most prestigious piano teachers but also a diligent art collector. At the time of his death on 28 March 1981, the pianist had managed to build up an impressive collection of art, which he decided was to be sold at Hallands Auktionsverk, an auction house with whom he had close relationships. 

"It is with mixed feelings that we are selling this collection. My parents were close friends with Gottfrid’s family and I have known them basically my whole life", said Martin Laurell, CEO and owner of Hallands Auktionsverk AB. "The will stated that the sale should be run by Hallands Auktionsverk and that the profits from the sale should go to a foundation in the family's name, for the benefit of young musicians."

Many of the works have never been up for sale and were bought directly from gallerists. Here are some of the highlights that will be sold at Hallands Auktionsverk on October 27:

Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 'Femme Se Coiffant', ink, signed and dated 19/8/52, with an original verso label from Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 65.5 x 50.5 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk
Pablo Picasso (1881-1973), 'Femme Se Coiffant', ink, signed and dated 19/8/52, with an original verso label from Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, 65.5 x 50.5 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk

Among the works that have never before been seen on the secondary market is Pablo Picasso's ink drawing Femme Se Coiffant. Gottfrid Boon bought the work at Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris in 1952, and it is now being offered for an asking price of SEK 2-3 million (around $176,000-264,000). Picasso painted and drew several works titled Femme Se Coiffant (which in English translates to ‘woman rearranges her hair’). Women figured in this classically-inspired pose throughout his prints and canvases, and formed a significant part of the artist's visual iconography.

We do not know who the woman in the portrait is, but there is reason to think it might have been either Françoise Gilot or Jacqueline Roque. At the age of 61, Picasso met the artist Françoise Gilot, 40 years his junior. A relationship between the two soon ensued, and she often modeled for the Spanish artist. A few years later the couple, together with their two children, moved to Vallauris in the South of France. It was there that Picasso began working with ceramics. In 1952, he met his last great love and muse, Jacqueline Roque. The same year Picasso met Jacqueline, he drew this portrait.

Marc Chagall (1887-1985), 'La Nymphe Bleue', signed, 1962, Épreuve d'artiste 6/25, Mourlot 379, 59 x 50.5 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk
Marc Chagall (1887-1985), 'La Nymphe Bleue', signed, 1962, Épreuve d'artiste 6/25, Mourlot 379, 59 x 50.5 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk

Marc Chagall's beautiful work La Nymphe Bleue, from 1962, is another highlight of the sale. Chagall is known for his dreamlike paintings with a romantic flair. The pictures are full of symbolism that brings the viewer into the inner world of the artist, who repeatedly depicted his love for his wife and the memories from his childhood.

Marc Chagall's modernist style earned him numerous prizes and awards. His works often sit at the crossroads of various artistic movements, at once experimenting with Cubism, Fauvism, Symbolism and Surrealism. Today, many of his works reach high hammer prices at auction.

Joan Miró (1893-1983), ‘Plate II’ (from Series III), 1952-53, signed and numbered 42/50, 24.4 x 31.8 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk
Joan Miró (1893-1983), ‘Plate II’ (from Series III), 1952-53, signed and numbered 42/50, 24.4 x 31.8 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk

Stretched on a cloudy plane are a multitude of cryptic figures and shapes, some biomorphic, some geometric. Plate II by Joan Miró, one of the most internationally-acclaimed artists of the 20th century, is a witty and imaginative etching. 

Joan Miró’s early art was inspired by Van Gogh and Cézanne and had both Cubist and Fauvist influences, though he later joined the Surrealist group throughout the 1920s. Unwillingly declared by André Breton as ‘the most Surrealist of us all’ – a membership he had always rejected – Miró went on to pursue his own artistic interests in the post-war period, and dedicated himself to mainly ceramics and prints. Plate II is a result of this change, and it is from this period that some of his most valuable prints come from, where we start to see his transition into Abstract Expressionism, of which he would become one of the most cited influences by later artists. A poet of the visual, Miró claimed to have freed his art of rational thought. The beauty of his etchings rests in interpreting the artist’s subconscious – the questions are many, the essence ineffable.

Georges Braque (1882-1963), ‘Black Chariot’ (Chariot V), 1958, colour etching with carborundum, signed and numbered 66/75, 28.5 x 34 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk
Georges Braque (1882-1963), ‘Black Chariot’ (Chariot V), 1958, colour etching with carborundum, signed and numbered 66/75, 28.5 x 34 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk

Black Chariot is one of many prints by Georges Braque inspired by the myths of ancient Greece. First commissioned in the 1930s to illustrate Hesiod’s Theogony, the artist created a series of etchings which interpreted the ancient epic on the origins of Greek gods through surrealist motifs. The mythological subjects then became a recurrent theme in Braque’s prints throughout the 1940s and ‘50s, and chariots and horses came to populate his lithographs. 

Black Chariot, from 1958, is a variant of White Chariot, from the same year, created using the technique of sugar-lift aquatint from two etching plates. The stick-like man, horse and chariot hints at the figures on ancient terracotta vases found throughout the Mediterranean basin, set against a backdrop of abstract shapes in grey and brown. An etching from this same edition resides in the collections of the Tate, in London.

Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), ‘Nu Allongé’, red chalk on paper, signed with monogram. 24.5 x 31.5 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk
Aristide Maillol (1861-1944), ‘Nu Allongé’, red chalk on paper, signed with monogram. 24.5 x 31.5 cm. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk

Another artist inspired by ancient Greek and Roman art, Maillol drew extensively on the classical figures of ancient sculpture – specifically women – while at the same time pledging alliance to the work of Cézanne, Gauguin, and the Nabis, a group of young artists inspired by Impressionism. 

Maillol was a ceramicist, tapestry-maker, and painter, but mainly a sculptor – one of the leading French artists of his time. His work is figurative and follows a basic decorative principle: “I invent nothing as little as the apple tree can invent its apples…”, as he said in his own words. The reclining nude in this red chalk drawing follows a Classical archetype that is often seen throughout his works, especially in his large bronze sculptures. Maillol’s figures are at once both ancient and modern: the harmonious naturalism of the tradition is evident throughout, but there is also a simplified modern style, later exemplified by the giants of sculpture such as Henry Moore.

Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946), 'Girl with a Long Neck', 1930, oil on canvas, signed twice with initials, 44 x 37 cm. The work has been exhibited at many museums, including the Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, Gothenburg's Art Museum, and the Kunstnernes House in Oslo. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk
Helene Schjerfbeck (1862-1946), 'Girl with a Long Neck', 1930, oil on canvas, signed twice with initials, 44 x 37 cm. The work has been exhibited at many museums, including the Prins Eugens Waldemarsudde, Gothenburg's Art Museum, and the Kunstnernes House in Oslo. Photo © Hallands Auktionsverk

The collection also includes a total of six works by the Finnish master Helene Schjerfbeck, represented with both lithographs and oil paintings. With an asking price of SEK 3-4 million (around $264,000 - 353,000), Girl with a Long Neck, from 1930, is one of the starred lots featured in the sale.

Helene Schjerfbeck distinguished herself for her artistry from a young age. Her early naturalistic and historicist paintings were appreciated so much that she received scholarships to study in Paris during the 1880s. It was thanks to the French artists that her modernist style first developed. Her art, however, would transform again at the beginning of the 20th century, when she settled in a city north of Helsinki, Finland. It was then that she opened her eyes to Japanese painting schools, which became her greatest source of inspiration and her most recognizable influence.

A recurring motif in Helene Schjerfbeck's oeuvre is the woman and the girl. She studied the models in detail for her works, and favored the expression of their character through the painting, enhanced by the exclusion of details in the face and clothing. The painting Girl with a Long Neck is a fine example of this technique.

Explore the catalog on Barnebys

Article sponsored byHallands Auktionsverk

Maximize the exposure of your upcoming auction on Barnebys today!