The Neo-Impressionist market



From 15 March to 10 July 2005, the Musée d’Orsay is showing 120 neo-impressionist paintings as part of its major exhibition entitled « Neo-Impressionism: from Seurat to Paul Klee ». The exhibition begins with works by Georges Seurat, the movement’s founder, and rounds off with works by artists who were influenced by the movement, such as Matisse, Derain, Kandinsky and Maurice de Vlaminck.
Georges Pierre SEURAT‘s pointillist production is extremely limited as he died very young at age 31 in 1891. Despite this scarcity, his juxtaposition method of applying dots of colour was copied and spread by countless other artists such as Paul SIGNAC, Camille PISSARRO, Charles ANGRAND, Henri Edmond CROSS and Maximilien LUCE.

Pointillism auction records by artist (Artprice selection)
Price 2004 : Artist
Top auction record by artist
Georges Pierre SEURAT
$ 32 000 000 :Paysage, l’île de la Grande Jatte (1884)
1999 (Sotheby’s,New-York)

Paul SIGNAC$ 4 000 000 :Concarneau. Calme du matin. Op. 219 (1891)
1998 (Christie’s,New-York)

Théo VAN RYSSELBERGHE$ 2 400 000 :Voiliers sur l’Escault (1892)
2002 (Sotheby’s,New-York)
Maximilien LUCE$ 950 000 : La Seineau pont Saint-Michel (1900)
1999 (Christie’s,New-York)
Henri Edmond CROSS$ 690 000 : Lasieste au bord de la mer (c.1903)
2003 (Christie’s,New-York)
Charles ANGRAND£ 440 000 : LaSeine à Courbevoie – La Grande Jatte (1888)
1998 (Sotheby’s,London)

Théo VAN RYSSELBERGHE$ 210 000 : Vue deNotre-Dame
1996 (Sotheby’s,New-York)

In the space of almost twenty years, only 23 Seurat paintings have appeared at auction, compared with 158 by his friend Signac. Seurat works therefore have an uncontested page in art history. The severe dearth of his works, places Georges Seurat in 8th place in the Artprice ranking of artists by price, behind Paul GAUGUIN and in front of Claude MONET. In May 1999, « Paysage, l’Ile de la Grande Jatte » (1884), a major work from the Whitney Collection, fetched USD 32 million at Sotheby’s, making it the most expensive pointillist work ever sold at auction. Moreover, it is very likely that this piece would sell for a lot more today judging from the sharp rise in prices in this segment in recent years. Between 1999 and 2004 prices for Neo-Impressionist works rose by on average 55%.

However, collectors on lower budgets can still find a large range of works on paper up for auction. In 2004, 53 such works by Signac, 36 by Maximilien Luce and 27 by Henri-Edmond Cross went under the hammer. Expect to pay on average EUR 300-400 for a Luce drawing (less for a sketch), EUR 1,000-2,000 for a small watercolour by Edmond Cross and finally EUR 15,000-25,000 for a good-sized watercolour by Paul Signac.