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Sotheby's announces sale of 20th Century Decorative Arts & Contemporary Design
A ‘modele du collectionneur' desk by Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, circa 1925. Signed. Estimate: 400,000 - 600,000 EUR. Photo: Sotheby's.

PARIS.- The sale of 20th Century Decorative Arts & Contemporary Design at Sotheby’s Paris on 6 June 2012 comprises 170 works of varied provenance, spanning a vast range of styles from Art Nouveau down to Contemporary Design.

As part of Sotheby’s strategy to make Paris the European centre for sales of 20th Century Decorative Arts & Contemporary Design, the forthcoming sale includes works not just from France but also from a variety of other European countries, ranging from Scandinavia to Spain, Italy, Austria and the U.K.

Art Nouveau
The sale begins with a rare carved 1874 panel by Henry Cros portraying Two Women in Medieval Costume (est. €30,000-40,000 / $39,000-51,000).* Ceramics connoisseurs can choose between works by Ernest Léveillé, Ernest Chaplet, Pierre-Adrien Dalpayrat, Gustav Gurschner and Jean Carriès – represented by a Chinese Mask with Pointed Beard circa 1890 (est. €7,000-10,000 / $9,000-13,000).

There will be two superb works by Josef Hoffmann from 1909/11: a commode commissioned by a Viennese private collector (est. €35,000-55,000 / $45,000-70,000); and a mother-of-pearl pendant made for the Flöge family (est. €30,000-50,000 / $39,000-65,000).

A silver table-lamp (1905) by Archibald Knox has blue enamel decoration to the base similar to that on the mirror sold by Sotheby’s for a world record €114,750 in 2011 (est. €60,000-90,000 / $76,000-115,000).

Decorative Arts from the 1920s-30s
Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann designed various types of desk during his career. Unlike his Ambassade (Embassy) model, made for the Exposition Universelle des Arts et des Techniques in 1925, his refined palissander, ivory and shagreen Modèle Collectionneur 25 (c.1925) was designed for private collectors (est. €400,000-600,000 / $510,00-764,000). His elegantly proportioned kingwood, ivory and shagreen Poudreuse Fuseaux lady’s desk (c.1925), meanwhile, epitomizes the spirit of 1925 (est. €180,000-220,000 / $230,000-280,000).

Another Art Deco highlight is a rare wrought iron and nickel silver table d’appoint by Jean Dunand (c.1923), acquired directly from Dunand and kept in the same family ever since (est. €45,000-65,000 / $57,000-83,000).

Sotheby’s will also offer a selection of Modernist pieces from the Collection of industrialist Yvon Poullain, who was born near Paris and, as a boy, was fascinated by the nearby house owned by Elvire Popesco, originally built for Paul Poiret by Robert Mallet-Stevens. In 2001 Poullain acquired the house in Paris which Mallet-Stevens had designed for master glassmaker Louis Barillet, and transformed it into a private museum, 15 Square de Vergennes. Furniture by Mallet-Stevens consigned by Poullain includes several items from the celebrated Villa Cavrois in Roubaix – including a dining-table with six chairs (est. €80,000-120,000 / $102,000-153,000); a sycamore-veneered bookcase (est. €30,000-50,000 / $39,000-65,000); a coat-hanger (est. €15,000-20,000 / $19,000-25,000); and a polished steel and chromed metal guéridon or circular table (est. €15,000-20,000 / $19,000-25,000).

Decorative Arts 1950-80
Another stand-out lot is the spectacular pair of ‘port-hole’ doors in oxidized-bronze, undulating metal from Jean Prouvé’s Pavillion du Centenaire de l’Aluminium, exhibited on the banks of the Seine in 1953 – a landmark in Prouvé’s post-war architectural output that was destined for re-use, and ceded to the organizers of the Foire de Lille in 1956. It was dismantled and saved from destruction by the current owner; the doors are the only elements of the Pavilion to remain in private hands (est. €100,000-150,000 / $127,000-190,000).

Sotheby’s will also be offering an array of pieces by Pierre Cruège, acquired from the artist by the current owner in 1952. Cruège is best remembered today for his biography of René Buthaud, but he was also a brilliant post-war architect and decorator in his own right. The works to be offered originated from his Paris home, and include a seven-light floor-lamp from around 1945 (est. €5,000-7,000 / $6,500-9,000) and a pair of chairs with arm-rests resting on brass spheres (est. €4,000-6,000 / $5,000-8,000).

The sale also includes furniture made by Jacques Quinet for Niels Onstad’s residence in Neuilly-sur-Seine, with a beige-lacquered wooden chauffeuse from 1972 (est. €15,000-20,000 / $19,000-25,500). Quinet’s refined, contemporary interior provided the perfect backcloth to Monsieur Onstad’s important collection of contemporary art.

Other market-fresh designs include a floor-lamp (est. €15,000-20,000 / $19,000-25,500) and coffee-table (est. €30,000-40,000 / $39,000-51,000) commissioned from Marc du Plantier in Spain by the current owner around 1945.

Designs by Diego Giacometti include a Palmes bookcase (est. €80,000-120,000 / $102,000-153,000); a frog-themed coffee-table Aux Grenouilles (est. €40,000-60,000 / $51,000-76,000); and a candlestick with two horse’s heads, made for Alberto Giacometti’s 50th birthday in 1951 and acquired from the artist by the current owner in 1962 (est. €30,000-50,000 / $39,000-65,000). Following the success of the Jacques Lacloche exhibition in February, Sotheby’s will be offering items by prominent international designers of the 1960s and 1970s such as Serge Manzon, Guy de Rougemont, Pierre Paulin, Françoise See, Maria Pergay and Philippe Hiquily (France); Piero Fornasetti, Gaetano Pesce and Angelo Lelli (Italy); and Poul Kjaerholm (Denmark).

Collectors will be enchanted by fifteen works by Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, including a Troupeau de Nouveaux Moutons (ram, ewe and lamb), c.1996 (est. €200,000-250,000 / $255,000-318,000); and the first version of her Crocodile I armchair from 1972 (est. €150,000-200,000 / $190,000-255,000). A Oiseau de Marbre armchair (1974), acquired from the artist, is from one of just three series made – for Yves Saint-Laurent, Alexandre Iolas, and François-Xavier & Claude Lalanne themselves (est. €50,000-70,000 / $65,000-89,000).

Contemporary Design
The sale concludes with Contemporary Design, including a cabinet by Elisabeth Garouste & Mattia Bonetti decorated with blue Sèvres porcelain plaques (est. €18,000-22,000 / $23,000-28,000); four concrete Nekton stools (2007) by Zaha Hadid (est. €10,000-12,000 / 13,000-15,000); and Ron Arad’s Oh Void 2 seat from 2002 (est. €40,000-60,000 / $51,000-76,000).

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