Pierre Soulages painting – €1.21m (£1.1m) at Caen Enchères

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The oil on canvas measuring 2ft 8in x 2ft (81 x 60cm) signed lower right and signed and dated to the reverse 12-56-1-57 was selected and purchased by Léopold Sédar Senghor in the artist’s studio in December 1956.

Senghor was a poet, writer, member of the French Academy, a statesman in France and Senegal, and the first president of the Republic of Senegal, from 1960-80.

The artist and his wife were friends of Senghor and his wife Colette. Senghor, who was a strong supporter of Soulages’ work, was instrumental in the staging of a retrospective of the artist’s work mounted in Dakar in 1974.

The painting offered in Caen had hung in the Senghors’ home in Normandy, to where the couple retired from Senegal.

At the Caen auction on January 23 seven bidders – six on the phones and one in the room – contested the work before the hammer fell at €1.21m (£1.1m), comfortably over the €800,000-1m guide. The buyer was a European collector.