The French Touch: Hommage à Alain et Catherine Bernard
Live Auction: 23 September 2020 • 2:30 PM CEST • Paris

The French Touch: Hommage à Alain et Catherine Bernard 23 September 2020 • 2:30 PM CEST • Paris

A s passionate collectors who shared the same fascination for art and curiosity, Catherine and Alain Bernard’s zeal was always driven by joy and humor. The couple, constantly seeking items of all genres, frequented auction houses as well as fairs, biennials, and other major artistic events.

Gradually, from Rue Cambon to Rue de l'Université, their apartment became a playground in which Catherine delighted in mingling styles: a fabulous antlers mirror by Claude Lalanne, an important painting by Simon Hantaï, a drawing by Picasso, and a coral-lacquered wood chest of drawers by Elisabeth Garouste. Their collection also includes unusual furniture-objects and an animal menagerie of all species in wood, ivory and ceramic, all against a background of bright colors, pastels, and intense hues.

Featured Highlights

“Alain and Catherine Bernard, two beings who were inseparable from the moment they first met: a tender and joyful complicity, and a sharp eye for choosing things that pleased them, objects they liked, without any ulterior motive, carried along by the things they couldn’t resist.”
Dominique Doucet

Blancs is undoubtedly one of the most impressive “pliages” ever executed by Simon Hantaï. Colour, diminished to its simplest form, highlights the dismantled motif and conveys its singular kaleidoscopic aspect to the piece. As Alfred Pacquement observed: “Hantai will have mostly preceded or contradicted the contemporary practices at every turning point in his career”. Fundamentally original and unconventional, Hantaï asserted himself as a major artist of the second half of the 20th century.

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“Laughter and courage, unfailing energy, Catherine brought Alain back to life, going well beyond the expectations of science. And her exacting eye also knew how to help artists. It is thanks to her that Claude Lalanne created her most beautiful mirror.” Pierre Passebon, Paris June 2020

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The aftermath of the war was marked by Picasso’s reunion with the Mediterranean. After the many dark works that he had created, he began to reconnect with “joie de vivre”, the title of one of his most emblematic paintings from 1946. The art of this period is characterised by a return to purity, a geometrical treatment of shapes and a lightness of touch that are especially visible in Trois femmes nues.

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This mahogany and gilt-bronze commode, marked by a brand iron with the letters “CP” on either side of a naval anchor under a closed crown, comes from Chanteloup chateau, having belonged first to the Duke of Choiseul then to the Duke of Penthièvre. This type of furniture, with five drawers in three rows, illustrates the Greek style of which Jean-François and Simon Oeben were ardent supporters.

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Catherine's Bestiary

From the Pigeon table lamp to the Monkey Sll in patinated bronze signed by François-Xavier Lalanne, Catherine delights in surrounding herself with specimens of all species: cats, dogs, rabbits and teddy bears, in wood, ceramic, ivory and resin, amidst her horde of little Jack Russell terriers.

No doubt inspired by the naturalist creativity of her grandfather, the famous sculptor Albert Cheuret, who seemed to breath life into his animals in bronze, Catherine will never cease to enlarge her bestiary. In her living room on the rue de l'Université, Catherine presides over a menagerie of the most astonishing animals: a silvered bronze mirror in the shape of an owl inherited from her grandfather; a large cockatoo in Japanese ivory; a seated rabbit by Marcel Sandoz; and a majestic Rhinoceros dressed in lace by Salvador Dali, not to mention her beautiful collection of fish in Italian blown glass.

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