The Guerlain Estate: Spotlight on Leonor Fini and Modern Sculpture

On 21 May 2021, by Anne Doridou-Heim

The collector's choices, ranging from the surreal baroque of Leonor Fini's paintings to powerful 20th century sculptures, were roundly acclaimed.

Leonor Fini (1908-1996), The Chosen One of the Night, 1986, oil on canvas, 116 x 73 cm/45.6 x 28.7 in.
Result: €56,972

The sale of the collection assembled by Sylvie Guerlain (1943-2020) made a total of €771,145, with high scores for sculpture. A work by Joseph Csaky took pole position at €120,274, while two of his colleagues also stood out, both of them from the 20th century and influenced by the work of Constantin Brancusi: English sculptor Henry Moore and his hand-to-hand struggle with the stone block (Reclining Figure, n° 5, sold €75,962) and the Scotsman William Turnbull (photo below) with his organic forms bordering on abstraction.

The collector's other passion was the Franco-Argentine painter Leonor Fini. No fewer than 13 of her works were on offer here—in this instance, a lucky number. L'Élue de la nuit (The Chosen One of the Night), with its prophetic title, received a tribute of €56,972. The same went for Mandrillia/Madrilia (78.7 x 24.2 cm/31 x 9.5 in), a painting from 1959-1960, and La Minaccia (The Threat) (60 x 92 cm/23.6 x 36.2 in), from 1960. Stateless People received a welcome at €53,174 and the 1993 Arrival of Tiberius (46 x 65 cm/18.1 x 25.6 in) garnered €17,725. Leonor Fini was a meteor in 20th-century painting: a figure with a difference, to say the least, who had links with Surrealism but followed a totally independent path, making good use of her subversive power and femininity. Her refusal to be officially attached to any art movement reflected a desire for freedom ingrained in her from early childhood.
 

Fulfilling expectations tenfold to finish at €101,283, this bronze sculpture by William Turnbull (1922-2012) was the dark horse of Sylvie

Fulfilling expectations tenfold to finish at €101,283, this bronze sculpture by William Turnbull (1922-2012) was the dark horse of Sylvie Guerlain's collection. The Scottish artist was a major figure in the British post-war scene. When he went to Paris on a scholarship, he met Alberto Giacometti and Constantin Brancusi. The former's influence is obvious in his "Mobile Stabile", while the latter's can be directly seen in his semi-abstract, monumental heads. This one, entitled Head 2, numbered 4/6 with a York stone base, dates from 1992.

All the hieraticism of the Art Deco period is encapsulated in the beige veined marble of this Anubis, also known as Dog's Head (33 x 31 x

All the hieraticism of the Art Deco period is encapsulated in the beige veined marble of this Anubis, also known as Dog's Head (33 x 31 x 13.5 cm/13 x 12.2 x 5.3 in), sculpted in around 1924 by Joseph Csaky (1888-1971). The god of embalming who guided the spirits of the dead proved sovereign in dominating the sale, taking off—in this world—with €120,274. When the statue was created, it had great appeal for Marcel Coard. At that time, the two men worked together to great effect: the Hungarian artist incorporated sculpted elements into the furniture of the designer, who introduced his works into interiors designed for his clients.

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