Important Design

Important Design

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 130. FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE | SINGE I.

Property from the Collection of Ambassador and Mrs. Felix Rohatyn


Auction Closed

July 30, 06:21 PM GMT


400,000 - 600,000 USD

Lot Details


Property from the Collection of Ambassador and Mrs. Felix Rohatyn




en suite with the previous lot

number 2 from an edition of 8

executed by Clementi Fondeur, Meudon, France

gilt bronze

monogrammed FXL, numbered SI 2/8 A and with foundry mark CLEMENTI FONDEUR

29¾ x 6½ x 7½ in. (75.5 x 16.5 x 19 cm)

Galerie Mitterrand, Paris

Acquired from the above by the present owner

Daniel Marchesseau, Les Lalanne, Paris, 1998, p. 134 (for a related model)

Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, exh. cat., Paul Kasmin Gallery, New York and Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, 2006, pp. 30-31 and 67 (for related models)

Les Lalanne, exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 2010, pp. 108 and 112 (for related models)

Paul Kasmin, Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, New York, 2012, n.p. (for a related silvered bronze model)

Adrian Dannatt, François-Xavier and Claude Lalanne: In the Domain of Dreams, New York, 2018, p. 117 (for a related silvered bronze model)

This pair of exceptional gilt bronze monkeys by François-Xavier Lalanne epitomize the outstanding practice of this celebrated animalier sculptor. Respectively known as Singe I (lot 130) and Singe II (lot 129), these charismatic monkeys are among Lalanne’s most beloved bestiaries. Designed to rest on a ledge, the Singes are characterized by their slender sweeping tails and stoic elegance. The combination of playfulness and vigilance which is so masterfully conveyed through their facial expressions is a trademark of Lalanne's work, contributing to the sculptures' approachability and irresistible charm. The present examples were acquired by the former Ambassador Felix Rohatyn and were prized jewels of his collection.  The esteemed diplomat discovered Lalanne’s visionary work while serving in his role as United States Ambassador to France. Since then, the golden monkeys were a captivating centerpiece in the Rohatyns’ New York living room, enchanting guests from their prominent position on the fireplace mantel. 

Monkeys held a special place in François-Xavier Lalanne’s bestiary. While he claimed that animals in general were at the center of his artistic vocabulary because of the great variety of forms provided by the zoological world, monkeys in particular were reminiscent of the dignified Egyptian deities he once contemplated while working as a guard in the Egyptian and Assyrian art galleries at the Louvre. Lalanne infused his own monkeys with a hieratic dignity similar to ancient statuary, as evidenced in the poised posture and nonchalant assurance of the two present Singes. The sculptor ended up producing a wide range of monkey-inspired subjects throughout his career. The Babouin fireplace and the Gorille de Sûreté safe, both introduced in the early 1970s, serve a utilitarian purpose that the artist eventually departed from in his later, more sculptural works such as the Singe Avisé, Singe Attentif and Singe I and II.

While Lalanne explored the present Singe series in a variety of different patina colorations, it is undeniably the “gold monkey” that is most revered and sought-after by collectors today. This exciting offering follows Sotheby’s Paris landmark sale in October 2019, L’Univers Lalanne: Collection Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, which established a new record for Lalanne’s Singe II in gilt bronze. The present offering thus provides Lalanne collectors with a unique opportunity to acquire a pair of this highly desirable icon by the artist, both in superb condition and with outstanding provenance.