Lot 5
  • 5

François Pompon

250,000 - 350,000 USD
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  • François Pompon
  • Ours blanc
  • Inscribed with the signature POMPON on the left posterior foot
  • Marble
  • Length: 18 1/8 in.
  • 46 cm


Comtesse Claudia de Maistre, Paris

Acquired from the above on July 20, 1967


Raymond Escholier, "Au Salon D'Automne: La Peinture et la Sculpture," Art et Décoration, December 1922, illustration of another example p. 21

Maurice Dufrène, Ensembles Mobiliers: Exposition Internationale 1925, 1re Série, Paris, 1925, illustration of another example pl. 26

Gaston Quénioux, Les Arts Décoratifs Modernes, Paris, 1925, illustration of another example p. 462

Edouard De Courières, François Pompon: Vingt-sept reproductions de sculptures, Paris, 1926, illustration of another example p. 49

François Pompon, sculpteur animalier bourguignon, exh. cat., Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon, 1964, illustration of another example p. 14 and pl. 1

Victor Arwas, Art Deco, New York, 1980, illustration of another example p. 170

Florence Camard, Ruhlmann, Master of Art Deco, London, 1984, illustration of another example pp. 92 and 247

Alastair Duncan, Encyclopedia of Art Deco, New York, 1988, illustration of another example p. 143

Catherine Chevillot, François Pompon: 1855-1933, Paris, 1994, illustration of another example p. 33, 54, 57, 60, 73, 81, 188; pls. 1, 3, 44, 52; pp. 211-212

Rétrospective François Pompon, 1855-1933, Paris, 1999, illustration of another example p. 1, 3, 5, 7 and figs. 84-87

Charlotte Benton, Tim Benton and Ghislaine Wood, Art Deco 1910-1939, London, 2003, illustration of another example p. 149

Emmanuel Bréon & Rosalind Pepall, eds., Ruhlmann: Genius of Art Deco, Paris, 2004, illustration of another example pp. 19, 46, 93 and 300


Very good condition. There is some pitting, which is inherent to the stone, throughout the composition, but this is not generally noticeable. There are a few small losses around the bottom edge of both back paws. There is an inherent grey inclusion in the stone on the outside of the left front paw. The sculpture is structurally sound.
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

Ours Blanc is François Pompon’s most important and revered sculpture. It came to define the long career of an artist and animalier who, at the age of 67, first presented the monumental model to great acclaim at the 1922 Salon d’Automne in Paris. Thereafter, the Ours Blanc was executed in different materials and on various scales over a period of eleven years.   The present sculpture is one of 13 of this scale that the artist carved in marble, according to Liliane Colas.

Pompon spent much of his early career as a sought-after assistant to the finest sculptors in Paris, including Rodin and Camille Claudel. However, in common with other artists active in the early years of the 20th Century, Pompon reacted against the expressive modelling style that prevailed at the time to develop a purer, more essential form of sculpture epitomized by the present work.

The natural grace of the polar bear is evoked by Pompon’s smooth surface of this marble and is underpinned by a subtle sense of movement. Constantin Brancusi was an admirer of Pompon and his own representations of animals share the spiritual and aesthetic qualities of Pompon’s works.  Emblematic of the creative spirit and artistic virtuosity of its creator, a bronze cast of this model's head adorned the door of the sculptor’s atelier in Paris. In 1937, the city of Dijon erected a monumental sculpture of the white bear in honor of Pompon, who had once worked and studied there. A monumental version, measuring nearly 2 meters, is one of the highlights of the Musée d’Orsay’s collection of 20th century art. Many versions in bronze and cast stone belong to museums, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and the Middelheim Museum, Antwerp.