Claude Lalanne’s Pomme d’Hiver represents a triumph of exceptional scale by the artist, which provides collectors with the rare opportunity to acquire a work from this celebrated series on a monumental scale. When viewed firsthand, Pomme d’Hiver magnifies the beauty of one of the most familiar of natural forms. A triumph by the artist standing over seven feet tall, the present work figures as an exaggerated and greatly enlarged version of an apple beautifully captured in gilt bronze. The offering of the present lot represents the first time that one of Claude’s Pommes of this size comes to auction. Appropriate for display both in an indoor and outdoor setting, the present work intrigues and captivates by its unexpected scale and delightful artistry.
The present apple may indeed represent one of the artist’s most successful and fitting works for a garden context. While Claude relied on the motif and delineated it across an array of sizes and mediums—such as Pomme de Jardin, Pomme de New York and Pomme de Londres (represented in this sale under lot 303), amongst other—, the scale and imposing proportions of Pomme d’Hiver arguably makes it best suited for an expansive and exterior setting.
Some of Claude’s large-scale versions of the Pomme were an inherent part of the Lalanne’s studio in Ury. The architect Leo Daly recalls, “A visit to Ury is unforgettable. One feels like Alice going “through the looking glass,” into a magical kingdom where the inhabitants are sculptures”. Pictured in their garden, some of these creations both completely fit in and radically contrasted with the surrounding environment, no doubt achieving their Surrealist ambitions.
In present-day terms, the present Pomme d’Hiver surely embodies the stunning culmination of Claude’s artistic ideology imbued with Surrealist influences, one that she has consistently explored throughout her extensive career. It is Daniel Abadie who argued that part of the legacy of Claude and François-Xavier is to have retained a key principle of the Surrealism from a generation prior, that is their never-ending pursuit of hyperbolic and magnified forms and ideas ultimately leading to the absurd and the extravagant.
Where the Surrealists had a penchant for subconscious trauma and wounds, the couple’s work instead favored relatable and universal imagery as the basis for their sculptural language. The various iterations of the motif are perfect examples of Claude’s approach to Surrealism, most notably the Pomme Bouche described as a set of lips merging with the body of the fruit. Here, the dramatically exaggerated proportions of the apple, further enhanced with a gold patina, create an extravagant and fantastical effect akin to some of the most important artistic masterworks from the movement and are reminiscent of iconic work by René Magritte and Salvador Dalí.
This monumental work from one of the artist’s most significant series encompass some of the most celebrated and beloved aspects of her oeuvre. This spectacular example of the rare Pomme d’Hiver model, presented for the first time at auction, provides a rare opportunity to acquire a small part of the Lalanne’s exceptional and celebrated artistic oeuvre– and to a certain extent, to get to see the world through their extraordinary eyes.