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€1.75m doors set new Lalique record

05 December 2011Written by Anne Crane

RÉNÉ Lalique is most widely known today for his inter-War glass vases, a field that he moved into after his Art Nouveau jewellery. But he also used glass to create a smaller number of furnishings and interior decors for specific clients.

A stunning example of Lalique's use of glass for architectural purposes resurfaced last month at Sotheby's Paris rooms, where it topped the auctioneers' November 22 double session of 20th century decorative arts and design.

Porte Moineaux Chambranle Cranté (Sparrow door in a notched frame), an 8ft 10in (2.7m) high by 5ft 10in (1.8m) wide, moulded glass and nickel steel double door eclipsed a not inconsiderable €400,000-600,000 estimate to take €1.75m (£1.59m).

Lalique created the doors to show at the 1929 Salon des Artistes Decorateurs. They comprised two doors, each made of four glass panels edged with thin panels of moulded glass featuring sparrows in high relief. Undulating glass sections run round the entire frame.

Subsequently shown at Breves Galleries in London, they then appeared in Vogue where they attracted wider interest from, among others, Florence Boot, Lady Trent, wife of Sir Jesse Boot of Boots the Chemist fame, who bought them.

Lady Trent installed the doors in the parlour of her home on Jersey.

She proved to be an important Lalique client, for in 1931, after Sir Jessie Boot's death, she commissioned the rebuilding of the Church of St Matthew on Jersey in her husband's memory and asked Lalique to provide the interior fittings and windows. St Matthew's is now known as The Glass Church.

Prior to their appearance at Sotheby's the doors have changed hands only once, going from Lady Trent's Jersey home to a UK collection some time before 1988.

At Sotheby's last month there were four would-be purchasers in the running for the Porte Moineaux up to around €800,000, after which the battle was down to two phone bidders. The successful purchaser was a private collector.

The previous record was $500,000 (£335,570) paid on December 16, 2010 at Sotheby's New York for a 17in (43cm) high, 1905 lost-wax cast figure of a woman with a garland of flowers.

Written by

Anne Crane

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Lalique

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