François-Xavier Lalanne and Gio Ponti to lead Phillips' London Design Auction on 26 April
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François-Xavier Lalanne and Gio Ponti to lead Phillips' London Design Auction on 26 April
An Important Hans Coper from the Henry Moore Family Collection: Hans Coper, Monumental bottle with disc top, circa 1959 Estimate: £120,000 - 180,000. Image courtesy of Phillips.

LONDON.- Phillips announced highlights from the London Design auction, taking place on 26 April. This sale brings together rare and important works of 20th and 21st century design, including, among others, designs by François-Xavier Lalanne, Gio Ponti, Hans Coper, Børge Mogensen, and Paul Dupré-Lafon. Comprising 140 lots, highlights from the sale will be on view at Phillips’ London galleries on Berkeley Square galleries from 20 April until the auction on 26 April at 2pm. On the following day, 27 April at 1pm, there will be an auction dedicated to Casa Fornaroli.

Domenico Raimondo, Head of Design, Europe, Senior International Specialist, and Senior Director, said, “We are delighted to present our Spring auction in London which encompasses a varied and exceptional selection of objects. From the fantastical creatures by François-Xavier Lalanne and exquisite examples of Gio Ponti’s designs for Casa di Fantasia in Milan, to Hans Coper’s ceramics, Nordic mid-century design and French Art Deco. This sale offers a remarkable selection of high quality craftmanship from throughout the 20th century and presents collectors with the opportunity to acquire unique works, many of which have never been offered at auction before. We look forward to welcoming visitors to the preview exhibition which will be open from 20 April ahead of our Design auction on 26 April, to be followed on 27 April by the Casa Fornaroli auction.”

Leading the sale are two lots by François-Xavier Lalanne; his 1999 ‘Grand Bouquetin’, and his 1993 'Mouton de Pierre' and 'Mouton Transhumant'. François-Xavier and his wife and fellow artist Claude had a very dynamic approach to combining decorative and fine arts. Known collectively as ‘Les Lalanne’, they were inspired by nature, flora, and fauna and are regarded as having revolutionised design in the 20th century. During his career François-Xavier took up the challenge of sculpting many different animal forms, resulting in a fantastic menagerie of creatures that bridge art and design. None are more celebrated than the artist’s beloved mountain goat 'Grand Bouquetin' and his regal sheep ‘Moutons’, both of which were integral to the designer’s fantastical bestiary. These elegant creatures are magnificent examples of the artist’s love for illustrating the animal kingdom.

Phillips will have the opportunity to offer a desk and a coffee table designed by Gio Ponti for Casa Lucano in 1951. Casa Lucano is the same Milanese apartment for which, in 2019, Phillips in collaboration with Cambi held the White Glove Casa di Fantasia auction. The whereabouts of these two remarkable pieces was unknown at the time of the auction, presenting collectors with a remarkable opportunity to acquire Gio Ponti’s designs four years after the Casa di Fantasia sale. A key figure in 20th century Italian design, among the most special works by Ponti are those that he made in collaboration with master craftsmen such as his most trusted cabinetmaker Giordano Chiesa, the illustrator Piero Fornasetti and the enamellist Paolo De Poli. These two pieces are particularly extraordinary because they were made to Ponti’s designs by Giordano Chiesa who considered them some of his masterpieces and loved the works so much that he bought these back from the family they were made for, and they have remained in his family ever since.

A monumental bottle by Hans Coper will be offered at auction this April from the Henry Moore Family Collection. Harry Fischer (1903-1977), the inimitable co-founder of Moore’s agents, Marlborough Fine Art, knew how much Moore admired Coper’s work, and he commissioned this bottle as a Christmas present for the sculptor. It was one of the earliest in a series of bottles of various size and shape which Coper continued to refine through the 1960s and into the early 1970s. Having emigrated from Germany as a young Jewish engineering student in 1939, Coper learned his craft in the London studio of Lucie Rie where they made ceramic buttons during the war. After the war Rie’s studio ceased button making and returned to normal practice and Coper began to produce his own pieces. In the 1950s he began making pots and it was not long before he began to receive considerable international recognition. Though simple in appearance, Coper’s pots draw on his interest in ancient objects. They are complex shapes with textured surfaces created by white and black slips, which mimick the abraded texture of excavated vessels. This highly significant piece unites two masters of their mediums both of whom understood sculptural essence, and just how humanely an object can extend our sensory experience.

Included in the sale are a selection of Art Deco works from 20th century French designer Paul Dupré-Lafon. The six lots offered here were commissioned directly from Dupré-Lafon and have stayed in the same family ever since. The works are remarkable given that it is rare for a comprehensive collection of this sort to come to market. Having trained as a painter, Dupré-Lafon went on to focus on architecture and design, working for a time for Hermès where he designed furniture, lights, and accessories. The coffee table and pair of wall lights highlighted here are notable examples of the designer’s ability to marry simple functional forms with sumptuous materials, accented by painted metal.

Among the Nordic highlights of the sale is a rare dining table designed by Børge Mogensen and executed by master cabinetmaker Ludvig Pontoppidan circa 1950. One of the most influential Danish designers of the 20th century, throughout his career Mogensen produced highly sought-after, timeless, and functional designs for public spaces as well as private homes. Today the designer’s work is as relevant as it was in 1950 and the present work is an excellent example of Mogensen’s minimalistic, elegant designs and enduring appeal.

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