Getty Museum sets record for Manet with $65.1 million purchase of 'Le Printemps'

Adrien Meyer, international director at Christie's, shows the painting "Le Printemps", 1881, by French painter Edouard Manet during its presentation at Christie's Auction House in Paris October 22, 2014. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

NEW YORK (Reuters) - French Impressionist painter Edouard Manet’s “Le Printemps,” which set a world record price for the artist when it sold at auction for $65.1 million (41.08 million pounds) at Christie’s on Wednesday evening, will be going to the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles.

The museum said on Thursday that it purchased the 1881 masterpiece that had been owned by the same family for a century and had been estimated to sell for as much as $35 million.

“I have no doubt that it will soon become one of the most iconic images in the Getty’s painting collection, representing the highest achievement of late 19th century French painting in a landmark work by its greatest and most influential master,” Timothy Potts, the museum’s director said in a statement.

The museum vied with several other bidders at the auction. The sale of the painting, including Christie’s commission of just over 12 percent, nearly doubled the previous record of $33.2 million for a Manet, set in 2010 by “Self Portrait with a Palette.”

“‘Spring’ was the last of Manet’s Salon paintings still in private hands, and universally recognised as one of his great masterpieces,” said Potts, adding that it was painted at the height of Manet’s artistic powers.

The painting depicts Parisian actress Jeanne Demarsy as the embodiment of spring. It was the first of a series of the four seasons but Manet only managed to complete two paintings before his death in 1883.

Christie’s Impressionist and modern auction in New York brought in a total of $165.6 million.

Editing by Marguerita Choy