But Art Deco and other works from the inter-war years (or even earlier) can still yield significant results as this selection from May and June auctions in Paris illustrates.
Palmwood was a signature material for the French inter-war designer Eugène Printz. Tajan offered an example of his Modernist treatment of this distinctive wood in its 20th century decorative arts auction on May 24.
The 7ft 2in (2.2m) wide sideboard of ‘origami’ like structure features a palmwood veneered frame; a body section overlain with panels of parchment and a thick glass top. The model was first shown in 1937 at the Paris Exposition Universelle in the Pavillon des Artistes Decorateurs.
Last month at Tajan it was knocked down for €80,000 (£70,175).
At an Artcurial Art Deco sale on May 22 several of the top prices came from a 14-lot, single-owner collection of works by René Lalique which had a provenance to the artist’s family.
These were not the glassmaker’s famous inter-war vases but rather earlier examples of metalware and jewellery from the pre-war years. A pair of Aux Blé wall lights of c.1908 were a very distinctive design with their glass bulbs enclosed in metal cagework to form wheat ears.
They were knocked down to an American collector for a double- estimate €143,000 (£125,440).
This large polychrome-patinated bronze and ivory figure, Shiva, a model created around 1928 by the master of the exotic, Demêtre Chiparus, realised €100,000 (£87,720) in an auction held at Drouot by Tessier Sarrou on June 1.
The seated, cross-legged, figure, 22in (56cm) high including the onyx base, was inspired, like many of Chiparus’ subjects, by the dancers of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes which took Europe by storm in the early decades of the 20th century.
It was the top-priced lot in this broad-brush decorative arts offering that took in everything from Gallé and Guimard to Perriand and Ponti.
Rembrandt Bugatti’s animalier sculptures continue on a roll, especially his bears and big cats. This 1904 model of a walking panther with hind leg raised proved to be the top-priced lot in Christie’s March 22 Design auction in Paris at €430,000 (£377,190).
The 20in (51cm) long Hébrard foundry lost wax cast bronze, signed R Bugatti and numbered D6, was acquired by the vendor’s family from Hébrard in 1930.
It is one of 54 known casts of this model and was the most expensive of four Bugatti bronzes in the auction, followed at €200,000 (£175,440) by a Hébrard-cast bronze of a walking bear, a model created c.1910.
The forthcoming print edition of Antiques Trade Gazette features a review of highlights from recent design auctions in New York and Paris.