René Magritte's 'L'arc de triomphe' to fetch £9.5 million at Christie's

The 1962 masterpiece is the latest addition to the catalogue of Christie's "ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century," which will be conducted on July 10 in four international cities across the globe.

"L'arc de triomphe" ("The triumphal arch")  first took shape in an ink sketch the Belgian Surrealist made in a letter, which he sent to his friend and Belgian poet, André Bosmans, on February 14, 1962.

Magritte completed the masterwork in time to exhibit it at the annual Charleroi salon, where it was purchased by his close friend and attorney in America, Harry Torczyner.

The large-scale painting was initially titled "Les goûts et les couleurs," although Magritte was inspired to rename it after a comment from American artist Suzi Gablik during one of his weekly gatherings at his home.

"As regards the title: 'Tastes and colours', which I find excellent in itself, because of its easy, familiar ring, which when one thinks about it would change if applied to an image more appropriate than the tree. Suzi Gablik has thought of a better one: 'The triumphal arch'. This title satisfies me completely and will replace ‘Tastes and colours,'" he explained in a letter to Bosmans dated April 10, 1962.

Last seen at auction in 1995, "L'arc de triomphe" is now estimated to sell for between £6.5 million and £9.5 million (about $8.1 million and $11.8 million).

A gouache on paper of "L'arc de triomphe" hit the auction block in February 2018 at Sotheby's London, where it surpassed its high pre-sale estimate of £700,000 (about $972,230) and fetched £909,000 (about $1.3 million).

Although one of only a handful of large-scale canvases by Magritte still in private hands, the estimate for "L'arc de triomphe" is still far from the Belgian artist's current auction record of $26.8 million.

This record price was set in November 2018, when "Le Principe du Plaisir" went well above its high pre-sale estimate of $20 million after a four-minute bidding war during Sotheby's Impressionist and Modern Art evening sale.

Magritte's market has grown significantly in recent years, as evidenced by the surprising sale of "A la rencontre du plaisir" in February during Christie's The Art of The Surreal evening sale.

On offer at auction for the first time ever, "A la rencontre du plaisir" far surpassed its high pre-sale estimate of £12 million (around $14.9 million) and achieved £18.9 million (around $23.4 million).

This time, "L'arc de triomphe" will highlight the London session of Christie's "ONE: A Global Sale of the 20th Century," which will span four cities in an exclusive relay-style format.

Roy Lichtenstein's monumental "Nude with Joyous Painting" is expected to realize over $30 million during the New York session, while the Hong Kong selection will be led by Zao Wou-Ki's dramatic masterpiece "21.10.63" (estimated in the region of $10 million).