This exceptional collection was assembled by Takeo Horiuchi, a real estate magnate and prominent collector with a passionate interest in the Japanese influence on Western art around 1900. Horiuchi teamed up with the decorative arts specialist Alastair Duncan to track down magnificent works and build up the world’s most important Art Nouveau collection: the Louis C. Tiffany Garden Museum Collection.
The collection offers precious evidence of late 19th century European enthusiasm for Japonisme, a faraway source of renewed, Nature-based inspiration for European decorative arts that also offered innovative techniques and formal solutions. The presence of several Art Deco items in the collection reflects the fact that this Asian influence continued into the 1920s.
The collection reflects the versatility of several major early 20th century French artists, like Louis Majorelle, whose sinuous furniture was especially suited to plant and leaf motifs; the cultured Emile Gallé, the movement’s undisputed frontrunner, who imbued objects with a spiritual meaning and sometimes adding contemporary poetry as a decorative feature; and René Lalique whose jewellery, marking a total break with the decorative repertoire of the time, is echoed by several Asian designers today.
Our auction achieved a strong total of €6.7 million / $9.2 million, our highest ever for an Art Nouveau sale. Further confirming the strength of this market, the sale was 89% sold by lot and 90% by value. The excitement in the saleroom was palpable. For most of the 119 lots, lengthy bidding wars played out between the saleroom, telephones and the Internet, many crowned by applause.
René Lalique's bronze sculpture Femme Ailée commanded the sale's top price. One of the bronze elements from the balustrade of the Lalique stand at the 1900 Exposition Universelle, it achieved €1,240,750, quadruple its €300,000 top-estimate.