See the Top 10 Lots from Sotheby’s ‘Design in Situ’ Sale
A sculpture of a hand by François-Xavier Lalanne claimed the top spot at Design in Situ, the June 27 sale of 20th century furniture, design and paintings at Sotheby’s in Paris. When Francois-Xavier Lalanne gave the unique work to Alain Demachy, it was accompanied by a note that advised the decorator to “Place it at the back of your yacht when you have one.” The work, and the note, sold for €133,750, far outpacing its low estimate of €30,000.
Works by Lalanne also took the second and third spots in the sale, in which works are presented in situ, alongside contemporary interiors.
One third of the €1.6 million total value of the 153-lot sale can be traced to the top 10 items alone, with most of the top lots selling for multiple times their low estimates. Surprisingly, the lots with the highest pre-sale estimates—such as Jean Dunand and Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s set of three double doors and two columns, which was expected to sell between €80,000 and €120,000—went unsold.
Other highlights of the sale were a red lacquered bed by Jean Prouvé and Jules Leleu, which sold for €37,500, and a Jacques Quinet desk, which went for €40,000. McGuire Company’s Sheaf of Wheat table offered another surprise when it sold for €32,500, over 30 times its low estimate.
Read on for the complete list of the top ten lots.
1. Lot 90: François-Xavier Lalanne, Main Culbuto, unique, 1965
Price realized: €133,750
This galvanic silver and brass hand was Lalanne’s gift to the decorator Alain Demachy, accompanied by the following message: “This hand is for you. Place it at the back of your yacht when you have one, so it will say goodbye to your guests when they leave your boat.”
2. Lot 76: François-Xavier Lalanne, pigeon table lamp, c. 1996
The bronze, patinated copper, and glass sculpture doubles as a table lamp and is a great example of Lalanne’s fondness for incorporating animal imagery into functional pieces, though the use of an electrical apparatus, such as the lightbulb, was rare for him.
3. Lot 111: François-Xavier Lalanne, Tortue, 1973
Price realized: €51,250
Among Lalanne’s wide-ranging collection of animal sculptures is Tortue, an apparently shy tortoise of gilt brass, monogrammed FXL, in an edition of 100.
4. Lot 115: Giò Ponti, pair of BP16 armchairs, c. 1963
Price realized: €50,000
The twin rattan chairs went for over six times the low estimate of €8,000, having remained in good condition over the past 50 years, though the upholstery has been replaced. Ponti, a figure whose talent transcended disciplines, designed these chairs in the later years of his illustrious career.
5. Lot 8: Jean Royère, corner cabinet, c. 1949
Price realized: €42,500
In a sale that came in at 8.5 times the low estimate, this oak, cane, and lacquered metal piece by Royère, unusual in form and function, turned out to be one of the most desirable, and valuable, lots of the sale.
6. Lot 52: Pavel Tchelitchew, L’homme à la houpe, 1953
Price realized: €40,000
Tchelitchew’s surrealist style, as well as his fixation on the male form, is evident in this intricate pastel on blue paper. This piece is among Tchelitchew’s “spiral” figures and portraits, which used the titular motif to construct recognizable forms.
7. Lot 91: Jacques Quinet, desk, c. 1950
Price realized: €40,000
This sleek Quinet piece, possessing an unconventional leather surface in keeping with the designer’s pared-down version of neoclassicism, went for five times the low estimate. The other materials in the desk include sipo, oak, padouk, and brass.
8. Lot 4: Alexandre Noll, sculpture, c. 1950
Price realized: €40,000
This tabletop sculpture embodies the essence of Noll’s woodworking. Noll, who crafted everything from abstract sculptures to bowls and even benches, once stated a desire “to make of wood all that could be made out of wood.” The organic, almost liquid form is carved of Gabon ebony.
9. Lot 137: Jean Prouvé and Jules Leleu, bed, c. 1935
Price realized: €37,500
This simple-seeming bed in vivid red lacquer went for over nine times the low estimate. Prouvé was a self-taught designer and architect whose long career was distinguished by his engineering sense and sleek modernist aesthetic, as is apparent in this piece, crafted in collaboration with French furniture designer Jules Leleu.
10. Lot 113: McGuire Company, Sheaf of Wheat table, c. 1960
Price realized: €32,500
Manifesting a popular mid-century motif, the “sheaf of wheat” cocktail table far surpassed the Sotheby’s low estimate of €1,000 and exemplifies McGuire Company’s decades of expertise in creating quality casual furnishings.