Lot 132
  • 132

Henri Laurens

200,000 - 300,000 USD
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  • Henri Laurens
  • Flora
  • Inscribed with the artist's monogram, numbered 5/6, and stamped with the foundry mark C. Valsuani Cire Perdue

  • Bronze
  • Height: 11 1/2 in.
  • 29.2 cm


Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris
David L. Wolper, Los Angeles (acquired from the above in 1981)


Francoise Leibowitz, Henri Laurens, Le Point, Revue Artistique et Littéraire XXXIII, Souillac, July 1946, illustration of the marble version p. 34
Werner Hofmann, The Sculpture of Henri Laurens, New York, 1970, illustration of the marble version p. 202
Sandor Kuthy, Henri Laurens 1885-1954, Fribourg, 1985, illustration of the marble version p. 145


Rich reddish-brown patina. A few pin-dots of accrtion are visible near the base on the reverse. There are a few small nicks around the base as well. Otherwise the work is in excellent condition.
In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective qualified opinion.

Catalogue Note

An artist of quintessentially Parisian character, Henri Laurens lived and worked primarily in the city and was known to casually display finished work on his front lawn. He counted Georges Braque among his closest friends, and his well-respected work tied him to all manner of cultural elite, including Picasso, Le Corbusier, Modigliani, and Chanel.

Henri Matisse, whose personal art collection boasted Delacroix to Cézanne, purchased a sculpture similar to the present work titled Femme assise, le pied sur le genou directly from the artist. The sculpture, bearing striking resemblances to Matisse's own voluptuous figures and gouaches découpées, occupied a place on Matisse's studio table in Nice. The resulting ink drawings of the early 1940s feature the sculpture and fulfill Matisse's musing that "Cutting directly into color reminds [him] of a sculptor's carving into stone" (quoted in Jean Guichard-melli, Matisse Paper Cutouts, New York, 1984). A lifelong friend and supporter, Matisse would later win the painting prize at the 1950 Venice Biennale and split his winnings with Laurens. The sculptor's influence on his contemporaries extended to Alberto Giacometti, who, after lamenting a lack of words for his admiration of Laurens, wrote, "I always see Laurens's sculpture as a luminous sphere that delights me" (Alberto Giacometti, "Henri Laurens: un sculpteur vu par un sculpteur," Labyrinth 4, Geneva, 1945).

Deliberate in the strides he took away from early successes with Cubist sculpture and papier collé, Laurens cultivated a sculptural practice that valued expressivity and sensuality. In an interview in Amis de l'Art just three years before his death in 1954, Laurens succinctly articulated the concept that underpinned his distinctive aesthetic: "I aspire to ripeness of form. I should like to succeed in making it so full, so juicy, that nothing could be added" ("Une declaration de Henri Laurens," Amis de l'Art 1, Paris, June 26, 1951). At once robust and seemingly weightless, Laurens's indulgent female figures produce a space of unconscious and instinctual desire.  In his own sage comment on the emotional tugs of sculpture, Laurens wrote, "What does one want? What one wants is almost indefinable. One doesn't really know what one wants. It's something felt rather than known. That's where the mystery is" (ibid.)

This present cast of Flora was acquired by film and television legend David Wolper, shown below with the artist's son Quentin, in 1981. (see fig. 1) Wolper, a member of the Television Hall of Fame and a winner of two Oscars, four Emmys, and three Golden Globes, was responsible for some of the most influential television programming of the twentieth century. He counted The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau, Roots, and Welcome Back Kotter among his hundreds of projects.

Fig.1 David Wolper with Quentin Laurens and the present work in 1981.