Los Angeles – A rare Demetre Chiparus sculpture entitled "Thaïs" is headed to the auction block in Bonhams' 20th Century Decorative Arts sale - April 29 in Los Angeles, with an estimate of US$150,000 - 200,000 - £100,000 - 140,000.
The elegantly posed figure, circa 1925, represents one of four examples known to exist. Its legendary Romanian-born sculptor Chiparus was at the height of his craft during the period, executing his design expertise in the "chryselephantine" process of combining skillfully worked bronze and carved ivory. The parcel-silvered, parcel-gilt and cold-painted bronze and ivory figure of a female performer is posed dramatically on an onyx base.
Chiparus was the quintessential artist of Jazz Age Paris, having first exhibited several of his works at the famous Salon des Beaux-Arts in 1914. He found inspiration for his masterpieces in the heady orientalist zeitgeist of 1920s Paris, where Serge Diaghilev's Ballet Russe took place, and in this instance, where "Thaïs," the fashionable Parisian opera, was adapted from Anatole France's novel of the same name.
Highlights of the sale also include the second part of Bruce Willis' collection of Marblehead Pottery, featuring a Panther bowl (est. $20,000-30,000) that is similar to an example in the Fine Art Museum of Boston. A rare pair of Modernismo giltwood fauteuils by Joan Busquets, the famous Catalan designer also will be featured. Busuets famously collaborated with Antonio Gaudi, among other architects during the early years of the 20th century.
Also of note, a rare, fine glazed stoneware Wally Bird tobacco jar, 1882, produced by the Martin Brothers, will be on offer (est. $20,000-30,000). "Wally bird," as coined by ceramic enthusiasts, derived its name from the primary designer and maker Wallace Martin, who designed these zoomorphic sculptures to resemble birds with human, caricature-like features.
Bonhams' 20th Century Decorative Art Department Director Dan Tolson states: "We are excited to be offering some of the greatest examples of works from the most influential design movements of the first half of the 20th century, from the dawn of the modern age, with examples of design from the arts and crafts period, to art nouveau and the visionary designs of the Catalan modernismo school (which anticipated design of the second half of the 20th century), all the way to masterpieces from the modern studio craft movement by such luminaries as Sam Maloof, Dale Chihuly and Arthur Espenet Carpenter."
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