Paris: a unique marketplace for drawings


The French art market is one of the largest in the world for artworks on paper, not only at auction, but also via the unique drawing fairs and exhibitions that are hosted in Paris every spring, accompanied by a string of specialized auction sales.

At auction and on a global scale, the drawing market generates more than USD 3 billion per year, and France – one of the main markets for works on paper – accounts for a third of this turnover with more than 90,000 transactions in 2023. The French market is essentially based on the circulation of top quality Modern and Post-War works by Matisse, Cézanne, Picasso, Seurat, Chagall and Dubuffet, as well as the occasional old masterpiece like Michelangelo’s brown ink drawing – A naked man (after Masaccio) with two figures behind – which fetched more than $24 million at Christie’s Paris in 2022. Indeed, that result is the record price for a drawing sold at auction on the French market, where 7-digit results are common.

Top 3 drawing results in France

$24.3 million:MICHELANGELO, A nude man (after Masaccio)

Christie’s Paris, 18/05/2022

$8.7 million: Henri MATISSE, Le Danseur, 1937/38

Christie’s Paris & Pierre Bergé, 02/23/2009

$8.1 million: Paul CÉZANNE, Intérieur de forêt , 1904/06

Touati-Duffaud Paris, 12/20/2017


Top 3 drawing results in France in 2023

$3.1 million: Joan MIRO, L’oiseau du matin, 1939

Sotheby’s Paris, 19/04/2023

$2.3 million: Francis PICABIA, Novia, c.1916/17

Sotheby’s Paris, 15/03/2023

$2.3 million: HERGÉ, Tintin en Amérique

Artcurial Paris, 02/10/2023


Since the turn of the century, the French drawing market has evolved substantially with a rapidly growing population of collectors. The number of auction transactions has grown 64% over the past 20 years and the segment’s auction turnover has posted remarkable growth of around 123% over the same period.

France: The overall price index for drawings since 2000 (copyright

The passion for drawings is clearly visible each year in Paris during “Drawing Week” when several auction sales devoted to drawings are hosted simultaneously with the city’s major drawing fairs offering a globally unique offer of works on paper. Between 20 and 23 March, hundreds of drawings will be auctioned at Ader (Ancient and Modern Drawings, 22 March, 240 lots), Millon (Drawings from 1500 to 1900, 21 March, 200 lots including a 16th century drawing from the School of Perugino and a magnificent drawing by Victor Hugo) and Christie’s (Ancient and 19th Century Drawings, on 20 March with around a hundred lots, including a rare Franciscan Monk in black stone by Anthony Van Dyck).

Salon du dessin, 32nd edition

The Salon du Dessin – hosted at the Palais Brongniart – strives to offer the best artworks on paper by Old Master, Modern and Contemporary artists, through a rigorous selection of only 39 exhibitors. This year the Salon is hosting a special tribute to French artist Jean Dubuffet to mark the 50th anniversary of the Dubuffet Foundation which will be exhibiting 55 Dubuffet works on paper (created between 1935 and 1985) which highlight the extraordinary variety of techniques and their inventive use by the artist.

The Salon du Dessin is also host to the award of the Drawing Prize offered by the Contemporary Art Foundation of Daniel and Florence Guerlain which supports young artists with a prize worth 15,000 euros for the winner and 5,000 euros for each of the two other artists shortlisted. A work by the winning artist is offered by the Foundation to a French museum. The artists nominated for the 17th edition of the Contemporary Drawing Prize of the Daniel and Florence Guerlain Foundation (of which Artprice by is a patron), were revealed on 11 December 2023. Here are their brief introductions:

Lamia Joreige, Lebanese artist born in 1972

In recent years, Lamia Joreige has been particularly interested in the formation of Lebanon as a country during the First World War. The unrest in Syria, likely to affect all neighboring regions, has revived memories of this period when many nations saw their maps redrawn or were divided. She has dug deep into the archives of King Faisal, who could have led the first independent Arab monarchy, a project which ultimately failed. She also explores the consequences of the major famine of 1915 caused by a combination of locust swarms, financial speculation and maritime blockades. Her objective is to assess the impact of these upheavals on both the mental and physical health of the populations concerned.

Amir Nave, Israeli artist born in 1974

In an exploration of the infinite temporality of the human being, Amir Nave, develops an obsessive, spiritual, even quasi-mystical approach. His artistic work focuses on the fundamental questions of our identity and our raison d’être. In his early work, Nave looked at landscapes and insects, looking for parallels between our species and others. Subsequently, his artistic forms evolved towards ‘creatures’, entities which evoke both our deepest past and our possible futures. Whether represented by a body, a head or an entity, these creatures live and are active.

Christos Venetis, Greek artist born in 1967

Within the framework of what might be referred to as an ‘artistic protocol’, Christos Venetis mainly draws his graphite pencil drawings on the insides of book covers (with all the pages ripped out). A striking contrast emerges between these small formats, characterized by their delicacy, their precision and their meticulousness, and the scarred spines of the empty hardback books, whose titles remain unknown. Although these works might evoke the dark hours of history, notably the book burnings of the Second World War, the format seems to suggest the artist’s desire to eliminate the infinite narrative possibilities from his work, focusing uniquely on the ‘materiality of the image’.

Francis PICABIA, Novia


Drawing Now Art Fair

The 17th edition of the Drawing Now Art Fair distinguishes itself from the Salon du Dessin by focusing on works created during the last fifty years. It is therefore a distinctly Contemporary fair, with works by artists who are mostly still active (and sometimes present at the show) presented by galleries like Putman, Agnes B, Lelong, Catherine Issert, Suzanne Tarasiève and Nathalie Obadia. There are works for less than 1,000 euros by the youngest artists presented and for more than 100,000 or 200,000 euros for important works by international artists.

The Drawing Now Art Fair also awards a prize: supported by the Drawing Society, the prize is worth 15,000 euros (€5,000 direct funding to the artist, plus €10,000 to finance a three-month exhibition at the Drawing Lab and the publication of a monographic catalog). This year’s nominees are:

Caroline Corbasson, born in 1989, represented by Dilecta
Stephanie Mansy, born in 1978, represented by Galerie F
Catherine Meurisse, born in 1980, represented by Galerie Barbier
Marine Pagès, born in 1976, represented by Galerie Bernard Jordan
Tatiana Wolska, born in 1977, represented by Irène Laub.

DDESSIN, 12th edition

Lastly, for its 12th edition, DDESSIN has reduced its exhibitors to just nine galleries and assumes a more ‘prospective’ approach by presenting – in addition to works traditionally produced on paper – animations on screens (videos by the artist Diane Arques) and a series of drawings by Emo de Medeiros for which the artist used artificial intelligence as part of the creative process.

Here too, a prize will be awarded with the aim of encouraging contemporary creation and promoting the work of an artist selected by a jury composed of art and culture professionals. This year, the jury will be presided by Louma Salamé, director of the Boghossian Foundation – Villa Empain in Brussels (Belgium), in conjunction with the French Institute of Saint-Louis in Senegal.


Salon du dessin. 20 to 25 March, 2024 / 39 exhibitors, 17 galleries from 8 countries / Palais Brongniart. Place de la Bourse, Paris 2nd Arr.

Drawing Now Art Fair. 21 to 24 March / 70 exhibitors / Le Carreau du Temple. 4 rue Eugène Spuller, Paris 3rd Arr.

.DDESSIN. 22 to 24 March / 9 exhibitors / Domis Maubourg, Paris 7th Arr.