Two walking panthers by Rembrandt Bugatti on the alert at Rouillac's highly popular Garden Party pounced on €1,364,000, posting the auction house's thirteenth million-plus bid on the way.
They also achieved an unrivalled score for a pair of bronze panthers modelled by the Italian animal sculptor (source: Artnet). Last and certainly not least, this edition numbered "1" is one of only two known copies of the group, the other, a lost wax casting by Hébrard with an impressive polychrome patina, having once belonged to Alain Delon (sold on 4 April 1990, at Sotheby's in London). The two big cats here also had a shining provenance, because they long adorned the Paris apartment of the collector André Bernheim (1879-1966) after they were bought in 1905. But the bronze was not the only glittering prize in a selection that garnered nearly €4 M in bids, with 80% of lots sold. To start with, a first edition of Pantagruel et Gargantua, a square in-16 volume knocked down for €607,600, beating the previous record of €111,400 set on 25 June 2009 at Christie's. This copy with wide margins, printed in Lon "by Francoys Juste" in 1542, also had an appealing history as it was once owned by a famous 19th-century bibliophile, the Comte de Lurde, as can be seen from his ex-libris. It was followed by some brilliant surprises, like the sale at €198,000 of a Bord de mer painted by Gustave Courbet in 1865, listed in the artist's catalogue raisonné by Robert Fernier under number 496.
Paul Gauguin's first drawing
An impressive Jardinière des Titans modelled by Auguste Rodin in 1890 largely exceeded its high estimate when it took flight to England for €142,000. This ornamental glazed ceramic piece (h. 71 cm, diam. 50 cm), of which there are only five extant copies, resulted from a collaboration between the sculptor and his teacher, Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse. Meanwhile, the first known drawing by Paul Gauguin, dated 1865, was knocked down for €99,000 to a French collector, who should hang it in Switzerland. As it happens, the subject of this watercolour and Indian ink is a Chalet suisse en bord de Loire (28.7 x 43.5 cm), which the budding artist executed after a drawing set by his drawing teacher at the Lycée Impérial in Orléans, Charles Pensée (1799-1871). He himself had produced it in a village, Erlenbach-im-Simmental, in the Bernese Oberland. This amazing testimony was discovered in the family of one… Désiré Gaugain, in the Touraine region.