What did Germaine Richier (1902-1959), Jean Dubuffet (1901-1985) and Bernard Buffet (1928-1999) have in common? As well as being sought-after artists, they all had links with Henri Creuzevault (1905-1971), an Art Deco bookbinder and gallery owner after the Second World War, who became their friend and helped establish their names. The ten-odd works he bequeathed to his daughter Michelle Fagot, sister of gallery owner Colette Creuzevault, were eagerly awaited at this sale of modern and contemporary art. Germaine Richier, the only woman in the trio, was also the most highly acclaimed artist. L'Échiquier, petit (Small Chessboard), a bronze proof of 1955 with a dark brown patina, signed, numbered "HC3" and stamped by the Valsuani foundry, took first place at €457,200, more than tripling its high estimate (photo below). A price accounted for by the work’s rarity, since its edition consisted of twelve proofs numbered 1 to 8, one artist's proof and three proofs not for sale, including the one here.
Her 1943 Escrimeuse avec masque (Female Fencer with Mask: 105 x 71 x 32 cm/41.3 x 27.9 x 12.6 in) was auctioned just before that, fetching €177,800 (photo below). This bronze proof with a dark brown patina is signed and numbered 3/6, one of a total edition of eleven—including three not for sale, an artist's proof and one numbered 0/6—and bears the Susse foundry stamp. With a more supernatural feel but less spectacular than the two previous bronzes, a monster from 1955, Tarasque (18.5 x 7.5 x 7 cm/7.3 x 2.9 x 2.8 in), a proof with black patina numbered 1/8 and stamped by Valsuani, found a buyer at €31,750.
The only work by Jean Dubuffet in the collection, Masque de théâtre IV (Theater Mask IV: 39.5 x 31.5 x 5 cm/15.5 x 12.4 x 2 in excluding base), a transfer on polyester dated March 6, 1969, fetched €165,100. This unique piece is one of a series of five and is only the third to go to auction, following those presented on December 11, 2019, and November 19, 2021 (Colette Creuzevault Collection) by the same auction house. Bernard Buffet's works on paper included the ink and charcoal drawing Chambre gothique, villa Spontini, Paris (Gothic Room, Villa Spontini, Paris 73.5 x 106.5 cm/28.9 x 41.9 in), from 1955, which garnered €33,020, and Bouteille, verre et bouquet de fleurs (Bottle, Glass and Bouquet of Flowers: 49 x 63.5 cm/19.3 x 25 in), a 1953 graphite drawing that went for €24,130.