Lot 49
  • 49


20,000 - 30,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Gabriel Argy-Rousseau
  • “Papillon” 
  • signed in the mold PÂTE DE CRISTAL/D'ARGY-ROUSSEAU and Bouraine and numbered A3
  • pâte-de-cristal
  • 10 1/8  in. (25.7 cm) high
  • circa 1928
designed by Marcel-André Bouraine


Janine Bloch-Dermant, Les Pâtes de Verre: G. Argy-Rousseau, Catalogue Raisonné, Paris, 1990, p. 218, no. 28.17
Victor Arwas, Art Deco Sculpture, London, 1992, p. 24
Susanne K. Frantz, Particle Theories: International Pâte de Verre and Other Cast Glass Granulations, exh. cat., Museum of American Glass at Wheaton Village, Millville, New Jersey, 2005, p. 21, fig. 23

Catalogue Note

In 1928, Gabriel Argy-Rousseau commissioned famed sculptor Marcel-Andre Bouraine to design a series of female figurines for him to form in glass. This series created by Bouraine included the design entitled “Papillon,” which features a butterfly woman moments before flight, her wings thrown back in exuberance. This figure is highly reminiscent of the famed dancer Loie Fuller, who took Europe by storm with her colorful dance “Papillon,” which she performed with silk scarfs suggestive of billowing wings.

These rare figures were created using a complex glass technique Argy-Rousseau revolutionized known as pâte-de-cristal. The process, in which glass is carefully applied to a mold a few grains at a time, was painstakingly precise, and Argy-Rousseau closely guarded the secrets to his glassmaking. One of the benefits of the pâte-decristal technique is the variegated naturalism of the result, as seen in the extraordinary depth of color in these “Papillon” sculptures. The present lots were crafted in a rich quartz-like magenta, a glowing amber, and a brilliant emerald green-blue, respectively, and it is extraordinarily rare to see all three of these colors offered together at auction. Argy-Rousseau used the contrast between opaque glass and whirls of colored glass to add a natural element to these sculptures, perhaps mimicking the organic swirling forms present in a butterfly’s wings.