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A RARE AND IMPORTANT ‘FEMME AILÉE’ SCULPTURE, 1900
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About the object

RENE LALIQUE (1860-1945)\nA Rare and Important ‘Femme Ailée’ Sculpture, 1900 \n\ncreated for the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900\n\npatinated bronze\n\n39 ¼ in. (99.7 cm.) high, 38 3/8 in. (97.5 cm.) wide, 8 in. (20.3 cm.) deep
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notes

Property of a New York Private Collector

In 1892, the Republic of France announced that it would mount a grand exposition to

commemorate the year 1900. The world was in a state of transition. There was an energy and

anticipation of the achievements possible in the coming century. France invited artists from

around the world to represent their countries and to showcase their work. The exposition was an

opportunity to bring the world together and to revel in the possibilities of the modern age. René

Lalique presented a triumphant booth flled with his signature jewelry in the Art Nouveau style. Equally

extolled by critics was the spectacular balustrade Lalique designed for the installation. Six bronze

female fgures, nude, with wings outstretched, in slightly diferent poses, attitude and mood,

were draped with gauze fabric on which Lalique’s sparkling jewels were moored.

Enhanced by realistic bats swooping overhead, the booth was a highlight of the exhibition, producing an enchanted,

bewitching atmosphere.

The winged figures, representing both the ‘new’ female and the metamorphosis of that particular

moment in time, exhibit the infuence of Symbolism on Lalique’s aesthetics. Although it began as a

literary concept in the late 19th century, Symbolism came to be identifed with the work of a younger

generation of French artists who were similarly rejecting the conventions of Naturalism.

Symbolist artists believed that their work should reflect an emotion or idea, rather than represent the natural world in the objective, scientifc manner embodied by the Realists and Impressionists. They felt that the symbolic value and meaning of a work stemmed from the recreation of emotional experiences in the viewer through color, line and composition.

The woman became a preferred symbol for the expression of the universal emotions – love, fear, anguish, death, sexual

awakening and unrequited desire. Lalique embraced the female form as the most perfect expression of these emotions,

capable of both transformation and dramatic contradiction. He was further infuenced by the changing attitudes of

women, many of whom were rejecting the status quo of male superiority. The semi-clad woman was a theme Lalique

frequently explored in all aspects of his art, including glass, jewelry and sculpture. The anthropomorphic form of the

winged female was highly suggestive, symbolic of the newly empowered woman. Lalique’s iconography superbly

captured this sense of metamorphosis and revolutionary societal changes rampaging through fn de siècle Europe. The

hybrid creatures immortalized in his Femmes Ailées, with their wings unfurled, symbolize feminine liberation, fgurative

butterfies emerging from their chrysalises.

As much as these sculptures showcase Lalique’s artistic aesthetics and ideals, they also display his impeccable skill and

craftsmanship. He had an inventive fair rarely seen by any sculptor working before him. The fuid lines and sensual forms

of the Femmes Ailées fgures point directly to the infuence of Lalique’s father-in-law, Auguste Ledru, and his brotherin-

law, both sculptors and colleagues of Rodin. The captivating facial expressions are provocative and seductive. The

intricate wings, textured with feathers, seem to at once belong to both a bird and an insect. As unique works of art they

present clear evidence of Lalique’s genius as an artist and a craftsman. Of the six Femmes Ailées known to exist, three

are in museums: the Kunstgwerbemuseum, Berlin (acquisition no. 1901-111), Musée Lalique, Wingen-sur-Moder, France

(private collection, on loan) and Lalique Museum Hakone, Kanagawa, Japan (private collection, on loan). The two present

lots are an exceedingly rare opportunity to acquire these historically transformative objects that supremely represent the

heights of Lalique’s incredible talent and artistry.

Property of a New York Private Collector

title

A RARE AND IMPORTANT ‘FEMME AILÉE’ SCULPTURE, 1900

creator

RENE LALIQUE (1860-1945)

exhibited

Paris, Exposition Universelle, 1900

Tokyo, The National Museum of Art, René Lalique: 1860-1945, May-July 1992

lot_number

45

provenance

Drouot, Paris, prior to 1976;

Jean Roudillon, Paris, acquired from the above;

Michel Périnet, Paris;

Acquired from the above by the present owner.


*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.

*Note that the price is not recalculated to the current value, but refers to the actual final price at the time the product was sold.


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