Paul Rebeyrolle (1926-2005)



The painter Paul Rebeyrolle, one of France’s most well-known contemporary artists, died on Monday in Boudreville-en-Bourgogne (France) at the age of 78. Born in Eymoutiers in 1926, Rebeyrolle started painting when he was 18. He gained acclaim with a first solo exhibition in 1951.

In 1979, the Grand Palais in Paris organised a retrospective of Rebeyrolle’s work. His work is structured around a number of recurring themes: series of “Nudes” (1970), “Still Life and Power” (1976), “Germinal” (1986), “Clones” (2000). The Maeght Foundation presented a comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s work in 2000.

The market for Rebeyrolle’s works has tightened significantly over the last few years. While some 30 pieces went up for auction in 1998, the number has now fallen to a dozen a year. With demand still high, this supply-side bottle-neck has pushed prices upwards. Hence, prices for the artist’s work that were stable between 1990 and 1998 have risen by more than 500% over the last six years! But, this sharp rise has not yet resulted in a new record. His most expensive work is still “Composition, Man with a Broken Leg”, a painting measuring over two metres wide, that went under the hammer in 1990 for the equivalent of EUR 100,000 at the Limoges-based auction house Galateau. Nevertheless, five of the artist’s ten most expensive works were sold at auctions in 2004.

His paintings account for almost half of all his sales. However, French auction houses are also overflowing with Rebeyrolle’s drawings and prints. In effect, given the significant number of such works on the market, 60% of Rebeyrolle’s works today sell for less than EUR 3,000, and the existence of multiples has made it possible for collectors with smaller budgets to actually acquire a Rebeyrolle. For example, “The Hands”, a lithograph from an edition of 125 sold for EUR 100 at the Saint-Cyr-based auction house Cornette in June 2004. By contrast, prices for the artist’s single works have soared: “Collage” (1963), using a mixed technique on paper, that was estimated at between EUR 1,000 and EUR 2,000 sold for EUR 6,000 at Christie’s in May 2004.