Saturday, March 24, 2012

Untouched "Civa" on the Block in France

Detail of Face.  Courtesy Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard, Dijon
Hello dear readers, it has been some time and I have regrettably been too distracted by the business of business to muse over artistic distractions but I had to take the time to post this little treasure. May I present the gilt and cold painted bronze and ivory figure of "Civa" (Shiva) by Demeter Chiparus.
Civa by Demeter Chiparus.  Courtesy Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard, Dijon
Now I know many of you may think I have lost my mind. Chiparus' art deco figures of exotic dancers and femme fatales illicit very strong reactions from modern viewers. However, one must understand that these works were produced during the decadent interwar period that was rife with cabarets, ancient discoveries and a relaxation of sexual mores. Works of this nature were popular for a mere ten to fifteen years and with the rise of the second world war they were largely forgotten until the 1970s and 80s (another decadent time) when art deco art and furnishings had a revival among collectors and designers alike.
Detail of back.  Courtesy Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard, Dijon
Detail of Side.  Courtesy Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard, Dijon
The pose of this vaguely Indian yet Ballet Russe inspired figure is based on exoticist performers of the period.
Contortionist performer from the period.
The figure itself is made from cast bronze that is exquisitely painted in rouge and orange tones with gilding and silver embellishments. This example is the top tier of the artist's production, thus the face, hands and feet are sculpted from elephant ivory.
Detail of surface decoration.  Courtesy Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard, Dijon
Detail of legs.  Courtesy Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard, Dijon
The use of ivory is naturally controversial these days and does make these works hard to import and export. This is something that potential purchaser's must keep in mind. The statue is being offered by the regional French auction house Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard based in Dijon. Believe it or not, this market is proliferated with fakes both from the the period and of more recent manufacture. They are usually easy to spot but sometimes they can be quite masterfully executed. The present lot is the "Holy Grail" for serious collectors as it has an air tight provenance. According to the auction catalogue the statue was presented to a Mr. H. Lacaille on the 7th of April 1935 at the banquet of the federation of wine and spirits merchants of the eastern region and the syndicate of Haute Marne. The base bears a presentation plaque to this effect. This is all very nice in theory, but thankfully the event was photographed for posterity...with the statue present in the foreground.
1935 banquet for the wine and spirit merchants of Haute Marne.
Detail showing Civa in the period image above.
From an expert's standpoint it does not get any better than this. The work remained in the Lacaille family up until this point. With this in mind, the figure is being offered at the seemingly modest estimate of €50,000-80,000. I say that because a comparable example sold at Christie's London in 2009 for $142,699. I fully expect it to reach the $150,000 range at the very least. We shall have to wait until the hammer falls to find out.
Detail of base interior.  Courtesy Cortot-Vregille-Bizouard, Dijon
As a final aside I had to publish one more detail image. If this work wasn't over the top already...the base illuminates. Now that is what I call gilding the lily. Until next time--AR.

UPDATE: The statue sold netting $140,122 with buyer's premium.  This is completely in line with my thoughts and with the example that sold in London in 2009.  Until next time...--AR