L'Homme et son Destin
350,000 - 550,000 USD
L'Homme et son Destin
patinated bronze, marble base
impressed G. Miklos and dated 29
29 1/8 x 16 3/8 x 7 1/2 in. (74.1 x 41.6 x 19 cm)
Overall in very good condition. This unique piece presents with a superb dark patina in well-preserved condition overall. The patina with occasional minor discolorations concentrated to the side edges and corners of the piece, as well as the head, proper left arm and proper left leg of the largest figure. The recessed areas with very light surface soiling consistent with age and not visually distracting. The bronze with scattered and very fine occasional surface scratches consistent with gentle handling. The marble base presents with a veiny and variegated surface when viewed in person, with hues ranging from maroon to dark grey. The base with chips and indentations to the corners and edges which are stable, the largest on the proper left front corner measuring approximately 3/4 inch wide. A very handsome and striking work with outstanding visual presence.
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.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING CONDITION OF A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE PRINTED IN THE CATALOGUE.
This lot is offered together with a copy of the certificate of authenticity from Madame Gustave Miklos.
As formally harmonious as it is curiously enigmatic, Gustave Miklos’ L’Homme et son Destin (“Man and his Destiny”) represents perhaps one of the artist’s most complex sculptural works in bronze. The present lot is a unique work and cast, although three versions of a related motif were created between 1928 and 1929. A much smaller version of this sculpture in silver and measuring approximately 5 ½ inches is referenced in the catalogue of Miklos’ solo exhibition at the Galerie l’Enseigne du Cerceau in Paris in 1973; the form was also the main inspiration for the design of François-Louis Schmied’s ex-libris.
Finely executed and sculpted with superb precision, L’Homme displays exceptional attention to detail as evidenced by the exquisite decorative incisions on the figure’s head and waist. Miklos’ predilection for geometric and abstract elements harmoniously coexist here within the overall figurative treatment of the subject matter, and recall his formalist and traditional artistic training. The figure’s stoic stance and highly ornamental masked head simultaneously resemble knight statuary from Medieval funerary art and Cubist reinterpretations of Sub-Saharan African art and sculpture. Legs open and arms raised, the man sits proudly on a round base while holding what appears to be either a son or a miniature version of himself— perhaps a metaphor for destiny itself. The inclusion of this small figure constitutes an unusual and particularly eerie addition to Miklos’ artistic repertoire, which typically solely draws upon naturalistic depictions of human and animal subjects imbued with Cubist influences.
This sculpture was executed in 1929 at the height of Miklos’ career. His first solo exhibition at the Galerie de la Renaissance the year before marked a career-defining moment which solidified his stature as a significant member of the Parisian avant-garde. This seminal exhibition showcased many bronze sculptures that announced a more mature style and blurred the lines between naturalism and abstraction. This impressive presentation helped Miklos build a solid reputation as a sculptor in his own right with a distinct practice defined by a non-figurative approach to living forms. The present work reflects the artist’s growth towards the end of the 1920s and the accomplished synthesis of artistic references in his practice, which contribute to making L’Homme et son Destin one of Miklos’ most eminent masterpieces.