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405

François Pompon

Ours Blanc

Property from an International Collector

François Pompon

François Pompon

Ours Blanc

Ours Blanc

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Property from an International Collector

François Pompon

Ours Blanc


circa 1927

number 9 from 12 Ours Blancs executed in pierre de Lens between 1925-1931

pierre de Lens

incised POMPON

9⅞ x 18¼ x 4½ in. (25.1 x 46.3 x 11.4 cm)

Overall in very good condition. One of very few lifetime examples realized in pierre de Lens, the present example of Pompon’s iconic Ours Blanc, arguably his most celebrated form, is in very well-preserved condition overall. The stone surfaces have recently been sensitively cleaned by a professional conservator. The proper right edge of the nose tip has recently been filled and restored in a manner that is consistent with the original surface; the restoration, covering an area measuring approximately ⅛ in. wide, is not visible unless inspected under UV light. The back and head of the bear presents with extremely light and slightly more pronounced soiling consistent with age and touch over time. The proper left eye with some extremely light verdirgirs spilling, not visually distracting. The stone surfaces present with very light surface scratches throughout and extremely minor irregularities inherent to the material. The edges of the feet with occasional minute abrasions: most notably, two on the rear foot; and one on the second foot from the right, none visually distracting. The upper lip and the rear area of the back of the bear each with a very small abrasion to the stone. A superb sculpture by Pompon. 


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 Edgar Brandt, Paris, October 1928
Acquired by the 1970s by the present owner
Raymond Escholier, "Au Salon D'Automne: La Peinture et la Sculpture", Art et Décoration, December 1922, p. 21 (for a large version of the model)
Maurice Dufrène, Ensembles Mobiliers: Exposition Internationale 1925, Paris, 1925, pl. 26
Gaston Quénioux, Les Arts Décoratifs Modernes, Paris, 1925, p. 462
Edouard de Courières, François Pompon: Vingt-sept reproductions de sculptures, Paris, 1926, p. 49
Robert Rey, François Pompon, Paris, 1928, pl. 22
Victor Arwas, Art Deco, New York, 1980, p. 170
Florence Camard, Ruhlmann, Master of Art Deco, London, 1984, pp. 92 and 247
Catherine Chevillot, Liliane Colas & Anne Pingeot, François Pompon, Paris, 1994, pp. 33, 54, 57, 60, 73, 81, 188 and 211-212
Alastair Duncan, Encyclopedia of Art Deco, New York, 1988, p. 143
Charlotte Benton, Tim Benton & Ghislaine Wood, Art Deco 1910-1939, London, 2003, p. 149
Emmanuel Bréon & Rosalind Pepall, eds., Ruhlmann: Genius of Art Deco, Paris, 2004, pp. 19, 46, 93 and 300
Galerie Edgar Brandt, Paris, 1927
This lot is offered together with a certificate of authenticity from Ms. Liliane Colas and will be included in the forthcoming catalogue raisonné.

Ours blanc is Pompon’s most important and revered sculpture. It came to define the long career of an artist and animalier who, at the age of sixty seven, first presented the monumental sculpture to great acclaim at the 1922 Salon d’Automne in Paris. The present example is number 9 from a total of 12 Ours Blancs executed in pierre de Lens between 1925-1931. Thereafter, Ours blanc was sculpted and cast from myriad materials and on various scales over a period of eleven years. Pompon spent much of his early career as a highly sought-after assistant to the finest sculptors in Paris, including Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel. However, like many artists active in the early modern era, Pompon reacted against the expressive aesthetics that prevailed at the time to develop a purer, more essential form of sculpture, one epitomized by the present work. Together with such masterpieces as Aristide Maillol’s La Méditerannée and, later, Constantin Brancusi’s L'Oiseau dans l'espace, Ours blanc brought about a new formal language in sculpture which focused on the reduction of form and volume to its essentials, thus breaking from the narrative and descriptive tradition of representation. The natural grace of the polar bear is immediately evoked by the smooth surface of Ours blanc, though the form is further underpinned by a subtle sense of movement. Pompon’s concentration on geometrical volumes enabled him to summarize animal characteristics and personalities effectively whilst the smooth homogenous surfaces of the bronzes, marbles and stones illustrate their subjects’ grace and nobility.