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Artcurial to offer four sculptures by Georges Laurent Saupique
Les Colonies, les Antilles, Georges Laurent Saupique, 1927-1929 © Artcurial.

PARIS.- At the Art Deco auction organised on 21st November at 8pm, Artcurial will offer an exceptional lot of four monumental sculptures by Georges Laurent Saupique. Created between 1927 and 1929 to decorate the entrance of the headquarters of the Compagnie Financière Française et Coloniale on the rue d’Anjou in Paris, the four statues represent the four French colonies: North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Indochina and the West-Indies (L’Afrique Noire, l’Afrique du Nord, l’Indochine and Les Antilles.) The work comes from a private American collection and is estimated at 1 200 000 € - 1 500 000 €/ 1 320 000 – 1 650 000 $.

Georges Laurent Saupique worked for more than two years on this impressive piece which helped establish his name as an artist. He later went on to work on the 1937 exhibition and after the war, on several public buildings; each project highlighting his distinct skills.

The sculptor explains the story behind this piece: «It was a year filled with frantic work. My workshop was bustling with workmen who helped polish and adjust pieces of coloured marble and bronze. The material consisted of a dark red ‘sanguine de Sampans from the Jura’ for the skin, a cream and veined Italian marble used for the draped material and turquin blue marble for the Vietnamese dress and marble from the Pyrenees.”

A Decorative Parisian Order
The four monumental sculptures of the Colonies were ordered in 1927 by Octave Hombert, a well-known Parisian banker who asked Georges Laurent Saupique to create them for the entrance of the Société Financière Française et Coloniale headquarters at 51 rue d’Anjou in Paris. The artiste Paul Jouve was also called upon to make the entrance bronze door hammers. L’Afrique Noire, l’Afrique du Nord, l’Indochine and Les Antilles remained in place on site until the building was sold in 2000.

That same year François Tajan sold the sculptures to collectors, Claude and Simone Dray. Later acquired by American collectors in 2006, these four sculptures are making the trip back across the Atlantic today and returning to their country of origin.

Georges Saupique is one of the key sculptors of the orientalist period. He was born in Paris in 1889 and was a student of Coutan at the École des Beaux-Arts and later Roussaud. He also worked alongside Rodin. He participated in the main Parisian fairs and exhibited at the Bernheim Jeune gallery. During the 1925 International Universal Exhibition, he stood out when working on La Douce France alongside major sculptors from this period such as Pompon, Zadkine and the Martel brothers.

Just after this exhibition, Octave Hombert ordered the four sculptures, Colonies for the entrance of the Société Financière Française et Coloniale Headquarters. He also ordered the bas-reliefs crafted by Georges Saupique for the façade of the building at the corner of la rue des Mathurins and la rue Pasquier which housed the Office privé des colonies françaises and information centre about colonies and exhibition venues.

In 1931, during the Coloniale exhibition, Georges Saupique created the lion fontaine for the l’A.O.F pavilion. Between 1933 and 1936, he participated in making the sculpture at the church of the Cité Universitaire de Paris with its angel bell. This very same year he made a bas-relief for the ocean-liner Normandie. He was also the artist behind the bas-relief, L’Asie for the Palais de Chaillot to mark the occasion of the international Exhibition in 1937.

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