La Gazette Drouot
Enchères - La Collection Fabius
Records from the Fabius Frères auction

Carpeaux, Barye, Deck, the favourites of the Fabius Gallery brothers pass the auction test with success. The Fabius taste is from now on pedigree.

On the 27th October, a page was turned for the Fabius family. The sale of the last of the treasures from 152 boulevard Haussman in Paris, sealed the history of a dynasty of art lovers. The Fabius family were known for their infallible taste for everything 19th century, ever since Elie, the founder of the first gallery on rue de Provence in the 1860s. His sons took over in a well-to-do area of the capital, then his Grandson François Fabius, brother of the old prime minister. Together they made the 19th century fashionable, allowing it to be celebrated as it should be at the 2004 Biennale where the Fabius stand, decorated by Jean-François Graf, caused a sensation. The last pieces from the gallery - François died in 2006, giving the reins over to his wife Armelle - were therefore sold at auction on the 26th and 27th October by the auction house Sotheby’s, associated with Piasa (for whom, let us remind ourselves, Laurent Fabius is a shareholder). Expected to gather between 8 and 12 M€, the collection went for a grand total of €9,620,200. Some will see this as a modest success, whilst others will see it as a celebration of the “Fabius taste’’.

Pair of Médicis vases, second size in hard porcelain from Sèvres, 1811, painted and signed by Jean-François Robert, h. 66 cm.

Four world records and an acquisition from the Metropolitan Museum do not lie. The New York institution fought all the way up to €983,150 for the two Médicis porcelain vases from Sèvres, painted by Jean-François Robert upon the order of Napoleon, for his brother Jérôme, King of Westphalie. It was a record for 19th century vases from Sèvres. “Jeune Fille à la coquille’’ and “Pecheur à la coquille’’, symbolic works by Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, beat the previous record of the artist which had been set this Spring in London for “La Frileuse’’ in marble (300,475€). As for the original plastercast of “Ugolin entouré de ses enfants’’, a powerful piece created during the artist’s stay at the Médicis villa after lengthily studying the Laocoon, it quintupled its estimation at €276,750. Disappointment on the other hand for “Daphné et Chloé’’ which didn’t find a taker.

Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux “Pêcheur à la coquille’’ and “Jeune Fille à la coquille’’, pair of marbles, h. 98 cm and 96 cm.

After Carpeaux, the other star of the day, the sculptor Antoine-Louis Bayre whose pieces represented 51 lots, also received his own world record for “L’Eléphant’’, a unique work from 1832 which belonged to the former collections of the Duke of Nemours; it was made for Louis of Orléans using the wax relief method of its founder Jean-Honoré Gonon. Strikingly life-like, the wild animal seems to charge after a predator in the high African grass. It will now be part of the collection of François Didier Coustaury, who bought it for €756,750, far more than the previous London record for a work by the sculptor, “Angélique et Roger montés sur l’hippogriffe’’, sold in June 2007. It is certain now that the Fabius taste, commended by these sales, will act as a reference point for 19th century sculpture.

Antoine-Louis Barye, “Éléphant", in bronze with brown patina, 25 x 29.3 x 15.3 cm.

A sovereignty which cannot let us forget some of the results within the speciality, like that of the painting named “À la salle Graffard’’ painted by Jean Béraud in 1884 - reccounting a policial reunion - went for €420,750, or even the prices noted for the twenty earthware pieces by Théodore Deck. The large vase, decorated with flowers in polychrome on a celdon background was bid for up to €36,750. It was a 1870s production piece inspired by the art of the Far-East. This was a new record for the ceramic artist, the other darling of the Parisian gallery.

Jean Béraud, “À la salle Graffard’’, oil on canvas, 1884.

Mercredi 26 et jeudi 27 octobre, Galerie Charpentier.
Sotheby’s France SVV, Piasa SVV.


The Gazette paper issue n° 35 discusses this on pages 7 and 33