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A Walk on the Wild Side of Design

A menagerie of exotic animal-inspired pieces by designers Lalanne, Bugatti, and others hit the block at Christie’s in Paris on May 22.

Panthère Marchant sculpture Photo: Courtesy Christie's

Animal prints have been a staple in stylish and aristocratic homes for centuries. It’s a look best left to the design experts, but no one can stop a cheetah pattern from making itself known. Christie’s is offering a unique opportunity to walk on this wild side via a suite of 17 animal-inspired works in its 60-lot design sale in Paris on May 22.

Alongside stylish and covetable furnishings by notable tastemakers like Line Vautrin, Jean Prouvé, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann, and George Jouve, the auction house is presenting a special selection of animal figures and motifs, like a quartet of bronzes by Italian sculptor Rembrandt Bugatti (son of furniture designer Carlo Bugatti and brother of famed automobile designer Ettore Bugatti). The Panthère Marchant (Walking Panther), is a bronze from 1904, which carries an estimate of €250,000 to €350,000 ($295,400–$413,600). “The work, which retains its magnificent original patina, was acquired directly from the Parisian foundry where it had been cast, A.-A. Hébrard et Cie, in 1930 and has remained in the same family until now,” says head of sale Flavien Gaillard. Also of note, he says, is a small sculpture of a crouching jaguar, more modestly priced at €45,000 to €65,000 ($53,200–$76,800).

Bugatti’s oeuvre has found a cult following among design aficionados who have driven five of his sculptures past the $2 million mark, including his celebrated Babouin Sacré Hamadryas, a 1909 work that achieved an artist record $2,770,000 at Sotheby’s in New York in May 2015. Enamored by the exotic animals he used as his subjects, Bugatti is known to have spent considerable time studying them at the Jardin Zoologique in Antwerp during his time in the Belgian city.

Requin sculpture

François-Xavier Lalanne’s Requin, modèle moyen, a stunning manganese white bronze shark from 2003, which is tagged at €250,000 to €350,000 ($295,400–$413,600). It hits the block at Christie’s in Paris on May 22.  Photo: Courtesy Christie's

Some 10 sculptural pieces by François-Xavier Lalanne are also on offer. These include Requin, modèle moyen, a stunning manganese white bronze shark from 2003, which is tagged at €250,000 to €350,000 ($295,400–$413,600). Like Bugatti, the market for works by Lalanne—who with his designer wife, Claude, went by the moniker Les Lalanne—has been on the ascent in recent years, with 10 works crossing the $1 million mark since 2011.

Lionne assise tête à gauche sculpture

Georges-Lucien Guyot’s Lionne assise tête à gauche (Lioness Sitting Head to the Left), a bronze conceived in 1930 and cast in 1950, goes under the gavel at Christie’s in Paris on May 22, carrying an estimate of €60,000 to €80,000 ($70,900–$94,500).  Photo: Courtesy Christie's

Also of note is Georges-Lucien Guyot’s Lionne assise tête à gauche (Lioness Sitting Head to the Left), a bronze conceived in 1930 and cast in 1950, which carries an estimate of €60,000 to €80,000 ($70,900–$94,500). According to Christie’s, this is just the second model of the lioness to be offered at auction, the previous one having been sold at the same house for €169,500 ($179,692) in November 2014.

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