An 1891 painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec that was held in the same collection for more than a century will be auctioned in Paris this month. Coming to the market with an estimate of €600,000–€900,000 ($730,000–$1.09 million), it is scheduled to hit the auction block on June 29 during a modern art sale at Parisian auction house Artcurial.
Painted with turpentine-thinned pigment on card, Une opération par le Docteur Péan à l’Hôpital International (1891) depicts a surgery in a Parisian hospital. After painting the scene from life, the artist gifted it to his acquaintance doctor Frédéric Baumgarten, who is shown standing in the center background observing the surgery. The work has been owned by Baumgarten’s family for 130 years. Bruno Jaubert, Artcurial’s director of Impressionist and modern art, said in a statement that, due to its rarity, the auction house expects the work to exceed its estimate.
The central figure performing the operation in the work is another doctor, Emile Péan. In the painting, Péan is depicted in all black, with his back to the viewer as he stands over the patient. He is flanked by a nurse and assistant, and surrounded by several other doctors who are studying the procedure.
Better known for his depictions of Parisian cabarets and brothels, Toulouse-Lautrec painted only two other scenes depicting hospitals. Toulouse-Laurtec had multiple medical ailments throughout his life, including a genetic disorder that left his growth stunted, and he was a patient of both Baumgarten and Péan.
The painting’s estimate is a small sum relative to the artist’s current record price of $22.4 million, which was achieved in 2005 when his painting La Blanchisseuse (1886–87) sold at Christie’s.