An 1891 painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec that has been in the same collection for over a century is up for auction in Paris this month. It hits the market at an estimate of € 600,000 to € 900,000 ($ 730,000 to $ 1.09 million) and is slated to hit the auction block on June 29 during a modern art auction at the Paris auction house Artcurial.
Painted with turpentine-thinned pigment on cardboard, Une opération par le Docteur Péan à l’Hôpital International (1891) shows an operation in a Paris hospital. After he had painted the scene from life, the artist gave it to his well-known doctor Frédéric Baumgarten, who is standing in the middle background and is watching the operation. The plant has been owned by the Baumgarten family for 130 years. Bruno Jaubert, director of impressionism and modernism at Artcurial, said in a statement that due to its rarity, the auction house expects the work to exceed its estimate.
The central person performing the operation at work is another doctor, Emile Péan. In the painting, Péan is shown all in black, with his back to the viewer while he is standing over the patient. He is flanked by a nurse and assistant, and surrounded by several other doctors who are studying the procedure.
Toulouse-Lautrec, better known for his depictions of Parisian cabarets and brothels, only painted two more scenes with hospitals. Toulouse-Laurtec had several medical conditions throughout his life, including a genetic disorder that slowed his growth, and he was a patient of both von Baumgarten and von Péan.
The painting’s estimate is a small sum compared to the artist’s current record price of $ 22.4 million made in 2005 for his painting La Blanchisseuse (1886–87) sold at Christie’s.