The Los Angeles County Museum of Art sold $2.9 million worth of Impressionist and modern art Thursday in the second segment of a two-day auction at Sotheby's New York. The museum racked up $10.1 million -- including $4.9 million for a Modigliani portrait -- in the sale's Wednesday night opener, and came away with a total of $13 million it has said it will use for acquisitions of other Impressionist and modern artworks.
"We are very pleased," said Stephanie Barron, LACMA's senior curator of modern art. "It's nice that the market matched our expectations."
Along with other museums that have consigned works to auction this season, LACMA has been sharply criticized for pruning its art holdings. But LACMA officials say that the sale is part of a long-range strategy to improve the collection in preparation for a planned renovation and expansion, designed by architect Renzo Piano and scheduled for groundbreaking this fall.
In Thursday's portion of the auction, LACMA was one of many consignors, including the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and the Palm Springs Desert Museum. About 360 relatively low-priced paintings, sculptures and drawings went on the block.
A Pointillist painting by Maximilien Luce depicting artist Suzanne Valadon's home in Montmartre brought $360,000, the highest price garnered by a LACMA consignment Thursday and well above the estimated $150,000 to $200,000.
Among other successes, "Summer," a painting of a couple relaxing in a sun-drenched garden by Robert Delaunay, was sold for $240,000, within its $200,000 to $300,000 estimate.
"English Clown," a painting of a sad-faced entertainer by Georges Rouault, brought $340,000, just under its high estimate of $350,000.
Eleven small bronze sculptures by Henry Moore fetched between $7,000 and $150,000 apiece. His nearly 10-inch-tall "Maquette for Standing Figure," for example, brought $42,500.
Big names didn't always bring the expected prices. A sketchy drawing of a reclining nude by Henri Matisse valued at $80,000 to $120,000 was sold for $65,000.
A Picasso drawing of dancers waiting in the wings of a theater, rendered in a spare style, was knocked down at $140,000, well below the estimated $200,000 to $300,000.
But a soft-edged red chalk portrait of a young woman by Edgar Degas brought $95,000, exceeding the predicted high of $90,000.
Only one of the museum's consignments failed to sell: a Cubist still life by Louis Marcoussis valued at $40,000 to $60,000.