THE history of France’s famous Sleeper Car Company was commemorated in a single-owner sale at Christie’s in Paris last month.
Titled L'Age d'Or du Rail, the 269-lot auction on
September 27 was devoted to souvenirs from the Compagnie
Internationale des Wagons- Lits.
While posters detailing the many exotic destinations to which
these sleeper cars travelled in the golden age of rail made up much
of the content, several of the highest prices were given over to
elements that had a more direct physical connection with the
company and its carriages.
Two of the ten top prices were given over to moulded and etched
glass panels that were part of Réné Lalique's late 1920's interior
decor for the Cote d'Azur Pullman Express.
Topping the list and the sale at a €110,000 (£100,000) was a set
of nine: three main full-length figural panels and six smaller ones
moulded with grapes (one shown here) bought by a European
Another similar set followed at €75,000 (£68,180), going this
time to a private US buyer. A 2ft 8in x 15in (81 x 38cm) wooden
panel inset with a moulded and silvered glass floral and foliate
bouquet designed by Lalique from the same decorating project was
the most expensive of several in the sale at €55,000 (£50,000),
going to an Asian buyer.
Also up among the top lots were some full-size models or
maquettes of late 1920s designs for the various Pullman
compartments. The most expensive was that created for the Salon in
mahogany and plane inset with similar silvered glass floral
decorated panels by Lalique.
This was pre-empted for a low-estimate €44,000 (£40,000) by the
newly established Musée Lalique in Wingen sur Moder near
Strasbourg, as were a pair of wing armchairs of Cote D'Azur Pullman
type, upholstered in squared velvet, designed by Suzanne Lalique,
which cost the museum €9000 (£8180).
However, the €42,000 (£38,180) paid by an Asian buyer for a half
model in mahogany for the restaurant car and the €40,000 (£36,365)
paid by a European collector for a mahogany model of a single
sleeping compartment with lacquer inlaid panels by Réné Prou were
both substantially over their more modest estimates.
Two oils on canvas, both original artworks by Theo Van
Rysselberghe (1862- 1926) for posters advertising the Nord-Sud
Gotthard and the Ostende-Trieste Express were also among the day's
top prices at lower-estimate sums of €82,000 (£74,545) and €65,000
A third for the Ostend-Constantinople Express was allowed to go
some way under estimate at €48,000 (£43,365).
The buyer's premium at Christie's was 25/20/12%.