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Gauguin tribute to Van Gogh for sale

Works by Picasso, Matisse and Degas also on offer at blockbuster Christie's art sale

A still life of sunflowers painted by Paul Gauguin as a tribute to his friend Vincent Van Gogh, which has not been seen in public for more than 20 years, will lead one of the blockbuster impressionist art sales in London next month.

Christie's today announced details of its February impressionist and modern art sales which will include works by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, André Derain, Edgar Degas and Pierre Bonnard. The total pre-sale estimate is between £74m and £109m – the second highest for equivalent Christie's sales in London and a sign that sellers are more confident than a year ago, when the estimate was between £57m and £81m.

Certainly there is a detectable buoyancy in the trophy art market, as evidenced by largely successful sales in New York and London last year that included a record for any artwork bought at auction – the sale in May of Picasso's Nude, Green Leaves and Bust for £70m.

Christie's head of impressionist and modern art, Giovanna Bertazzoni, called 2010 a landmark year for the art market, with record prices driven by a demand for top quality works.

"The category continues to engage new collectors from both established and emerging markets, including China and Russia," she said. "When there is a healthy supply it has been shown that there is a tremendous demand for the rarest and the best."

Few would quibble about the Gauguin being in that category. Nature Morte à L'Espérance was painted in Tahiti in 1901 – two years before his death from syphilis and 11 years after Van Gogh's suicide – and was shown at Gauguin's first big retrospective in 1906. Although not seen in public since 1989, it has featured in more than 20 major museum exhibitions over the years and has the highest estimate, at £7m to £10m.

The Christie's sale will include four works being sold by the Art Institute of Chicago. It is selling two Picassos, a Matisse portrait and a Braque still life – Nature Morte à la Guitare (Rideaux Rouge) – estimated at between £3.5m and £5.5m.

Other highlights include an Degas ballet painting – Danseuses Jupes Jaunes (Deux Danseuses en Jaune), which has been in the same family since 1899 and is estimated at between £3m and £5m – and a Bonnard summer's day view from his house in Normandy, Terrasse à Vernon, estimated at between £3m and £4m. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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