The marble Virgin and Child by Victor Brecheret from c.1923-4 which sold for €750,000 (£652,170) at Tajan.

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Sculptor Victor Brecheret (1894-1955) spent the first four decades of his life alternating between Italy, France and Brazil.

Born in Farnese in Italy, his family moved to Brazil when he was 10. He returned to Italy aged 16 to study sculpture, went back to São Paulo three years later then moved to Paris.

He was called back to Brazil in 1922, to participate in the Week of Modern Art at the Theatro Municipal in São Paulo – the founding event of Modernism in that country – where he presented 12 works.

From 1926-36 Brecheret alternated between France and Brazil and between 1921-29, as a member of the Ecole de Paris, was a regular exhibitor at the Salon d’Automne, the Salon de la Société des Artistes Français and the Salon des Independants in the French capital.

At this point he was influenced by Cubism, Modernism and the work of Constantin Brancusi (like him, Brecheret practised direct sculpture carving straight onto the material).

He worked in stone, terracotta and bronze mainly depicting human figures and latterly turning to religious subjects and forms of indigenous Brazilian culture.

Brecheret moved permanently to Brazil in 1936 and during the last decade of his life received numerous commissions for public sculptures and religious works.

Striking work

Probably his most striking work is Monumento às Bandeiras (Monument to the Flags), a massive granite public sculpture which was finally completed in 1953 and now stands at the entrance to the Ibirapeura Park in São Paulo.

On June 28 Tajan’s (26/21/14% buyer’s premium) auction of 20th century Decorative Arts and Design featured three stone sculptures by Brecheret from a private Swiss collection that had passed down by direct descent.

They took the sale by storm, each crushing their estimates and two achieving six-figure sums.

The works in question are all from the Art Deco period, all examples of direct carving and are signed V Brecheret on their bases.

Two of them are carved in white marble.

One is a monumental Vièrge à l’Enfant dated to c.1923-4 that measures 4ft 8in (1.42m) in height.


Brecheret’s marble of the goddess Diana that made €610,000 (£530,435) at Tajan.

The other, of Diana the Huntress, depicts the goddess as a sensuously curved reclining nude with a doe seated at her side. It is set on a shallow rectangular lacquered wood plinth, dates from c.1929-30 and measures 2ft 1in x 2ft 7in (64 x 79cm).


Stone carving of entwined doves by Brecheret sold for €78,000 (£67,825) at Tajan.

The third work, which also dates from c.1923-4, and depicts two interlaced doves, is carved from stone and stands 15½in (39cm) high.

The Virgin and Child, which was guided at €15,000-20,000, sold for rather more at €750,000 (£652,170).

The reclining figure of Diana, which carried an estimate of €20,000-30,000, was taken to €610,000 (£530,435) while the pair of doves guided at €5000-8000 sold for €78,000 (£67,825).

As lots under temporary admission all three attracted an extra 5.5% VAT on their hammer price.

The sculptures attracted considerable interest from Brazil and were contested by eight bidders on the phone, in the room and online. Each work was purchased by a different buyer.

All three prices, says the auction house, are records for the sculptor. The previous auction high for a work by Brecheret recorded by Artprice is BR$257,200 (£53,600) for a 22 x 26in (57 x 68cm) bronze Casal de Bailarinos sold in November 2003 at an auction at Companhia das Artes in São Paulo.

Chareau shatters estimate


A PF213 vase by Pierre Chareau which realised €252,000 (£219,130) at Tajan.

Another of the top lots in the Tajan sale which eclipsed its estimate was an alabaster vase by the designer decorator Pierre Chareau (1883-1950).

This was a version of his large PF213 vase in carved alabaster featuring two zinc-lined receptacles measuring 2ft 5in (73.5cm) high from 1930 that realised €252,000 (£219,130), more than four times the top estimate.

The vase had come from a property in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferret and is a particularly rare model. Only a few examples were made, one of which, ordered by Annie and Jean Dalsace for the Maison de Verre, the house they commissioned from Chareau, is now in the collection of the Pompidou Centre.


This Petite Religieuse table lamp by Pierre Chareau realised €150,000 (£130,435) at Gros & Delettrez.

Image copyright: Gros & Delettrez/Drouot

Alabaster also featured in Chareau’s lighting design as one of his preferred materials, often employed in flat geometric panels with metal and wood fittings.

There was a classic example in a small and select sale of around 50 lots of 20th century decorative arts held at Drouot on June 20 by Gros & Delettrez (30% buyer’s premium).

This was a 16in (41cm) high lamp formed of four triangular planes set in black patinated metal on a conical walnut base, a design known as a Petite Religieuse, a model created in 1923.

Estimated at €20,000-30,000, it ended up selling for a multiple of that figure at €150,000 (£130,435).

Signature material

Exotic or costly materials are a characteristic of many Art Deco works and the distinctively striated palmwood was a signature material for the designer decorator Eugène Printz (1889-1948).


Palmwood desk by Eugène Printz sold for €65,000 (£56,520) at Gros & Delettrez.

Image copyright: Gros & Delettrez/Drouot

A 4ft 3in (1.3m) wide desk in the Gros & Delettrez sale, a model created c.1929, uses palmwood veneer, features two recessed drawers, is set on solid side panels with legs formed as curved arches of oxidised brass and is signed with a monogram in a circular cartouche. The price last month was just over the upper estimate at €65,000 (£56,520).


This fire surround by Paul Dupré-Lafon sold for €150,000 (£130,435) at Gros & Delettrez. The painting over the mantelpiece is a 2ft 4in x 5ft 8in (69cm x 1.73m) oil on canvas from 1918, Caravane, Marrakech, by Bernard Boutet de Monvel (1881- 1949) signed lower right which realised €125,000 (£108,695) in the auction house’s Modern and Contemporary art sale on the same day.

Image copyright: Gros & Delettrez/Drouot

The sale also featured a Modernist fire surround by Paul Dupré-Lafon (1900-71). Dated to c.1935-40, it was constructed from chromed metal with rectangles of patinated leather, very probably from the firm of Hermès.

Probably a one-off creation, it has a blackened metal interior and fittings including a mesh fireguard, tongs and a small shovel.

This too made €150,000 against a guide of €80,000-120,000.

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