Chagall, Ruhlmann: A Veritable Who's Who of 20th-Century Art

On 08 April 2021, by Claire Papon

With works by Calder, Bugatti, Jeanneret, Ruhlmann, Zadkine and Chagall art and design of the 20th century is expressed in multiple guises.

Marc Chagall (1987-1985), Les Amoureux au soleil orange (Lovers with an Orange Sun), 1980, India ink wash, pastel, India ink and watercolor, 76 x 56 cm/29.93 x 22.05 in.
Estimate: €180,000/250,000

A late drawing by Marc Chagall could achieve this auction’s highest bid. Its size, good state of conservation and theme, which could be said to sum up his work, are among its assets. Two lovers, bouquets of flowers, an ass and a rooster float in the air under a glowing sun. The animals are part of Chagall’s familiar bestiary: born in Vitebsk, he visited his grandparents’ farm many times. The palette of colors and India ink are also characteristic. It would be hard to find a more emblematic work by the artist.

The auction began with engravings by many great printmakers, including Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Robert Indiana, René Magritte, Takashi Murakami, Yan Pei-Ming and Mimmo Rotella, from the collection of the French publishing house Herne (estimates: €300 to €3,000). In the decorative arts, Carlo Bugatti’s copper-inlaid blackened wood chair from painter Henri Martin’s studio (€4,000/6,000) is alongside Henri Bellery Desfontaines’s glass and wrought iron hanging lamp with bunches of grapes (€1,500/2,000). From a Parisian collection, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann’s silver-plated bronze and alabaster table lamp with a beaded lampshade (c. 1920) is estimated at €40,000/60,000, while Ossip Zadkine’s rare clay statuette Douce mélancolie, 1957 (Sweet Melancholy, 1957) will require €20,000/30,000. Varnished teak furniture by Swiss architect and designer Pierre Jeanneret, whose work has been very much in demand these past few years, is expected to fetch between €3,000 and €10,000. The pieces offered here are based on models he designed around 1955-1956 for administrative buildings and university dormitories in Chandigarh, India, a project that his cousin Le Corbusier invited him to work on.

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