FRANÇOIS-XAVIER LALANNE | SINGE I
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
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)
Overall in very good condition. The present lot, Singe I, represents one of the artist’s most desirable and iconic models. This particular example presents with an exceptionally elegant and vibrant gilt bronze patina. Singe I varies slightly from its counterpart, Singe II (lot 129), both in terms of physical orientation of the face and in the placement of the hands, which are positioned between the feet. The original gold patina has been recently sensitively cleaned by a professionalconservator and presents beautifully with a rich and bright surface. The patina with subtle variations in tonality which are inherent in the making. The bronze surface presents with an extremely subtle thatched texture and some occasional minute and scattered pinholes that are inherent to production and commonly seen in works by the artist. The gilt bronze surface with some occasional very minor discolorations, including one discoloration at the approximate middle point of the tail measuring approximately 2 inches high, not visually distracting. A superb example from the artist’s Singe series that captures the charm, elegance and playful nature that is emblematic of Francois-Xavier Lalanne’s ingenious work. The companion to this wonderful Monkey is offered in the preceding lot, Singe II, providing collectors with a rare and unprecedented opportunity to pursue a pair from this series in remarkably well-preserved original 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.
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.
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.