Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The 5th Most Expensive Painting in the World

This work by French artist Pierre-Auguste Renior is one of his happiest compositions, as well as one of Impressionism's most celebrated masterpieces. The previous five paintings on our Top 10 List were done by van Gogh (3) and Picasso (2).

5. “Moulin de la Galette” by Pierre-Auguste Renior, sold in 1990 for $78.1 million. Inflation-adjusted price $123.8 million.

Painted in 1876, Renior’s work is a snapshot of real life, depicting the “people of Paris” enjoying a carefree Sunday afternoon at the Moulin, a popular acacia-shaded courtyard in the Montmartre district of Paris. Here, working class Parisians would dress up and spend time into the evening, dancing, drinking, and eating galette, the crusty pastry that was Moulin’s specialty.

Lighthearted and full of evanescent color, Renior’s painting displays a richness of form and a fluidity of brush stroke. The dapple of light is a typically Impressionist feature.

Renior’s oil on canvas measures 52 x 69 in (131 × 175 cm). Nobody before him had thought of capturing some aspect of daily life in a canvas of such large dimensions. In this work, Renior also introduced portraits of friends, family, and other painters.

In 1991, the painting was owned by a Japanese industrialist who outrageously suggested he intended to cremate it with himself when he died. However, when his companies ran into severe financial difficulties, the bankers who held the painting as collateral for loans arranged a confidential sale through Sotheby's to an undisclosed buyer. Currently, the painting resides at the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.

Previous Top-10 Listings:
6. “Garçon à la Pipe” by Pablo Picasso. Read more>
7. “Irises” by Vincent van Gogh. Read more>
8. “Dora Maar au Chat” by Pablo Picasso. Read more>
9. “Portrait of Joseph Roulin” by Vincent van Gogh. Read more>
10. “Portrait de l’Artiste sans Barbe” by Vincent van Gogh. Read more>

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