When examples come up for sale they usually make pretty spectacular sums: €400,000 for the version sold by Christie’s in the 2006 Dray auction and €650,000 for the one sold by Sotheby’s in the Félix Marcilhac sale in 2014.
Last week, at Drouot in Paris, a variant on the Nautile chair came up as part of a tiny nine-lot auction held by Binoche et Giquello. This was in giltwood, had more of a tub shape to the outline and pronounced arms featuring a looser spiral.
The chair was dated c.1914, the same date as the Nautile design, but Amélie Marcilhac (Félix’s daughter), furniture expert for the auction, reckoned its inspiration pre-dated that. The form featured in a fashion catalogue of dresses drawn for the couturier Paul Poiret and it is thought that a Madame Roger, who worked in the fashion business and was a friend of Coco Chanel, ordered the chair from Iribe having seen it illustrated in this earlier catalogue.
No other version of this form is known and it is the only example in giltwood, now recovered in grey velvet.
At the auction on February 16, it was contested by several trade and private bidders up to €120,000 before two collectors took it to the final price of €180,000 (£146,340) plus premium.
The sale also featured five Rodin bronzes, one of which, a posthumous 1927 Rudier cast of his famous Le Baiser (The Kiss) topped the auction at €1.75m (£1.42m).