THE NICEST EXHIBITION OF THE YEAR
IN THE NICEST AUCTION ROOM IN FRANCE
click to launch video
discover THROUGH an unseen movie
the works of Janniot, in situ, at la Thébaïde
click on picture to watch the movie in russian and french
click on picture to watch the movie in chinese and english
JANNIOT AT LA THEBAÏDE
A prolific sculptor and heir of Bourdelle, Alfred Janniot (1889-1969) was the darling of the French public and private grands decors of the 1930s. During World War II (1942-1945), on the banks of the Oise at La Thebaide, he produced a unique and sumptuous collection that reworked the outstanding successes of his previous work and pointed forward in time to his future creations.
After winning the Rome Prize in 1919, he returned from Villa Medicis having forged strong friendships that would remain with him for the rest of his life. It was Jacques Émile Ruhlmann who gave him his first break by entrusting himwith the statuary in the Collector's Pavilion during the 1925 Exhibition of the Union of Decorative Arts. Art lovers were greeted with a "Homage to Jean Goujon" which marked the beginning of the Art Deco style. Later, Janniot oversaw the low-relief decor of the main facade of the Palais de la Porte Dorée, on the occasion of the Colonial Exhibition (1931). The 1,200 m2 of carved walls were admired by eight million visitors. In 1937, he tackled the facade of the Palais de Tokyo facing the Seine, on the occasion of the International Exhibition of Arts and Techniques. In this work he achieved a masterly synthesis of ancient mythology: an open book facing the Eiffel Tower.
The 1% for culture law, funding the production of a work of art in all public construction projects, saw Janniot travelling the length and breadth of France during the Glorious Thirties: from the Puteaux Town Hall to Nice's Massena Square, via the Cachan Ecole Normale Supérieure or the Bordeaux Labour Exchange. Janniot also took on private commissions, such as the General Transatlantic Company's flagship liner the "Ile de France", the door of the Maison de France at the Rockefeller Center in New York and the Calouste Gulbenkian Museum in Lisbon.Janniot also produced important elements of the decor of the Greystone Villa at Dinard - a citadel facing the sea and belonging to his friend the architect Roux-Spitz.
In 1942, already a universally recognized artist in his prime, he suffered a severe blow when a bomb destroyed his Paris studio. He took refuge with the son of an old army friend, Gerard Ducos, in his property at Butry-sur-Oise: La Thébaïde. During the war, Janniot set up his studio in the grounds, and dreamt up, entirelyby himself, the decoration of the house and grounds. Visits to Anet and Versailles and long conversations with the aesthete Ducos were the inspiration for the creation of this peerless Art Deco collection. Janniot produced forty sculptures, which reworked his past successes and laid the foundations for his future creations, as with the very beautiful plaster cast "Heracles and the Cretan Bull". Exulting in human nudes, Janniot achieved a synthesis between the Ancient inspiration of his themes, the Renaissance example of his plastic style and the Classical order of his general representation. Thus, eight grotesques, ancient deities, were created by hand and placed on either side of the pond, recallingthose drawn by Lebrun at Versailles. If the "Aurora and Crepuscule" allegory was a reworking in the roundof the high-relief of the Palais de Tokyo, the large Caryatids pointed to his sculptures of the future. The absolute masterpiece is without doubt the bronzegroup "The Three Graces" -the only group of women by Janniot that has survived intact ...
This unique set of sculptures, the largest private collection of his work, was miraculously protected from being broken up after La Thebaide was abandoned in the late 1990s. It is now being put up for auction, which may enable a new patron to preserve the grandest decor imaginable, by one of the masters of ArtDeco.
We refer you to the excellent publications of Anne Demeurisse (Janniot, Somogy, Paris, 2003) and Michel Giraud (Janniot, Galerie Michel Giraud, Paris, 2006) and the friends of Janniot website (www.janniot.com), for more detailed informationon the items in this catalogue.
As the works put up for auction are all original and mostly previously unpublished, we wish to emphasise that French law makes the publication of original works conditional on the consent of the artists' rights holder - in this case Ms Anne Demeurisse.
The works are sold as is. Collections will be sold under the 'Faculté de Reunions' rules: each item will be auctioned separately, but at the end there will be an opportunity to buy the collection at the cumulative price. If no bids are received for the collection, then the previous separate sales apply.
150 - The Lady and the UnicornStone, in the round.
H 137, W 145, D 49 cm.
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), at the top of the stairs on the terrace at the entrance to Janniot's workshop, it forms a matching piece with "Beauty and the Beast."
151-Beauty and the Beast.Stone, in the round.
H 145, W 163, D 53 cm
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), at the top of the stairs on the terrace at the entrance to Janniot's workshop, it forms a matching piece with "Lady and the Unicorn."
152 - The Three Graces.Burnished bronze, signed "A. JANNIOT "and" Alexis Rudier Fondeur Paris".
On a BASE of stone with allegories of water carved in high-relief on all four sides.
Overall size: H 252, W 144, D 78 cm.
Three Graces: H 170, W 123, D 57 cm.
Base: H 82, W 144, D 78 cm.
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), the centrepiece of the collection created by Janniot and placed in front of the pond.
Bibliography: Michel Giraud (dir.), "Alfred Janniot", éd. Galerie Michel Giraud, Paris, 2006, ill. p. 114.
Euphrosyne, the Goddess of Festivity, Thalia, the Goddess of Rejoicing and Aglaia, the Goddess of Splendour, were the daughters of Zeus who brought joy to the Earth and were the embodiment of grace and beauty. Their iconography, three naked girls holding each other by the shoulders, is set in antiquity. Each era interprets it as an expression of giving or of love: Beauty, Desire and Completion... Janniot had worked on this theme from 1923, in a low-relief that has since disappeared. He amplified it in 1937, setting the Three Graces at the top of "The Legend of the Sea" on the facade of the Palais de Tokyo. In the group created for La Thebaide, Janniot follows Canova by arranging one character facing forwards and the other two in profile. The sculptor explores all the charms of the female anatomy, by leading his Graces in a light and serene round dance. This large group, the only one of its kind, was cast in bronze by Alexis Rudier for the Thebaide gardens and is the centre piece of the Ducos villa. It rests on a square stone base decorated with maritime allegories in relief on each of its four sides. Set along the central axis of the house, at the end of the pond, the bronze and stone are reflected with the sky in the water. Throughout his work, Janniot only sculpted four groups of young women comparableto this work. "Homage to Jean Goujon", in stone, commissioned by Ruhlmann for the Collector's Pavilion for the Exhibition of Decorative Arts in 1925 has unfortunately disappeared. The same fate be fell "The Nymph of Fontainebleau", another of Janniot's homages to the Renaissance, in stone (1926), which went down with the the "Ile de France" ocean liner. "The Four Seasons", in bronze, cast for the Cachan Ecole Normale Superieure in 1953 is still in the public domain. Monumental in size and ambition, "The Three Graces" of La Thebaide is Janniot's most important work in private hands, and has never previously been on the market.
Stone, high relief, signed on the lower right and with a caption on the phylactery. Polychrome stars.
155 - Gaia, Mother Earth, "Caea, Helios, Selene, Dionysos, Eros".
H 162, W 107, D 12 cm.
(Missing a horse ear, one of Danae's fingers, chipped edges).
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), used as a chimney pier.
When Janniot was commissioned to decorate the facade of the Palais de Tokyo in 1937, he chose to illustrate an "Allegory of the Glory of the Arts" in high-relief. The left and right sides of the facade were devoted, respectively, to the chthonic world (Centaur and horses) and the aquatic world (Triton and Nereid). The deities present in this high-relief work are those of the left side of the facade, dedicated to the "Legend of the Earth". Here they are organized around the central group which features Mother Earth nursing a child. The burnished plaster of this composition is preserved in a private collection (Giraud, 2006, p. 122). At La Thebaid, Janniot chose to set this stone relief as a chimney pier, just as he did with the architect Roux Spitz for the Orban brothers' sitting room in Brussels (1938).
156 - Heracles and the Cretan bull.Original plaster, low-relief.
H 112, W 181, D 80 cm.
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), in Janniot's workshop.
In 1937 Janniot had represented Heracles fighting the Cretan Bull, in stone relief on the facade of the Palais de Tokyo. The same relationship between the athletic body of a naked man and the power of an animal is also seen in the monumental cast of Mars for the Fontaine du Soleil in Nice (1956). Commissioned in 1935, this fountain features Apollo, the sun, surrounded by Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and Saturn. While Janniot modelled the subject in the round, is was not until 1965 that the group was carved in stone and placed in the grounds of the Jean Dupuis Technical College at Tarbes.
157 - Sundial surrounded by Venus and Mercury, on an entablature supported by two columns with vine and vine branch motifs.Stone, high-relief.
Overall size (eight elements): H 274, W 408, D 50 cm.
Deity Lintels (two elements): H 55, W 252, D 50 cm.
Cornices (two elements): H 38, W 206, D 42 cm.
Pair of columns (two elements).: H 219, W 30, D 30 cm.
(Damage and missing parts).
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), located outside, above the entrance doorway, on the facade of the house.
159 - The four elements: Fire, Caryatid.Stone, in the round.
Overall size: H 280, W 100, D 59 cm.
Caryatid: H 170, W 100, D 55 cm.
Base: H 110, W 59, D 59 cm.
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), part of a set of four stone caryatids, symbolizing the four elements, placed on the terrace in front of the facade. This monumental figure of a bearded man holding a torch was reworked in 1953 as Prometheus, the emblem of the Gourdon-Lessueure Lycée, Creteil.
161 - The Four Elements: Water, Caryatid.Stone, in the round.
Overall size:H 275, W 102, D 67 cm.
Caryatid: H 165, W 102, D 67 cm.
Base: H 110, W 59, D 59 cm.
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Vald'Oise), part of a set of four stone caryatids, symbolizing the four elements, placed on the terrace in front of the facade.
163 - The Four Elements: Earth,Caryatid.Stone, in the round.
Overall size: H 280, W 70, D 59 cm.
Caryatid: H 170, W 70, D 57 cm.
Base: H 110, W 59, D 59 cm.
(Restorations, including glued serpent's head).
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), part of a set of four stone caryatids, symbolizing the four elements, placed on the terrace in front of the facade. Janniot reused elements of this allegorical construction of the earth to immortalise "Ceres, goddess of the harvest" or "La Beauce" in 1959 for the Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire Lycée, Etampes.
165 - The Four Elements: Air, Caryatid.Stone, in the round.
Overall size: H 280, W 115, D 59 cm.
Caryatid: H 200, W 115, D 55 cm.
Base: H 110, W 59, D 59 cm.
(Restorations, including a glued finger).
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), part of a set of four stone caryatids, symbolizing the four elements, placed on the terrace in front of the facade.
168 - Aurora and Crespuscule, allegory of Day and Night.Group on a Corinthian capital, stone, in the round, topped with a wrought iron sphere.
Overall size: H 361, W 160, D 160 cm.
Group: H 130, W 150, D 120 cm.
Capital: 71 x 90 x 77 cm.
Sphere: Diam. 160 cm.
(One of Aurora's feet restored).
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), from the right-hand side of the grounds. Janniot uses the two reclining figures of his "Allegory of the Arts" on the facade of the Palais de Tokyo (1937) to bring together, in a single "Allegory of Day and Night", "The Legend of the Earth" and "The Legend of the Sea". Demeter, mother goddess of agriculture, rests when winter comes. The figure is shown here lying on a horse, her hands tied towards the starry sky, like her daughter Persephone, goddess of the underworld, in an allegory of Twilight rather than of eternal rest. Dionysus, the God of Wine, is stretched out naked, his legs apart in an ancient posture of the Barberini Faun. At La Thebaide this figure is represented waking, resting on his right arm, in an allegory of Dawn rather than of drunkenness.
170 - Centaur.Composition, casting.
H 232, W 205, D 120 cm.
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide (Val-d'Oise), in the grounds.
Female torso, Study for the Three Graces.
H 105, W 43, H 35 cm.
Source: Former Ducos collection at La Thebaide(Val-d'Oise), from the right-hand side of the grounds.
The torso of Cecile, the sculptor’s wife, is one of the most prominent series in Janniot's work and is treated by thesculptor under the influence of the Aphrodite of Knidos. This torso study represents the central character of the Three Graces group at La Thebaide. Itis also similar to that produced for Ms Blanche Issartel's fashion house(Giraud, 2006, p. 48). It may also have been used for the Bathing Woman statue that stands at the entrance to the National Library of France's Prints Room (1945). A study of this torso, also from La Thebaide but smaller, was in fact put up for auction (Christies, 2005). Another plaster, damaged, with the same arrangement of the arms, was also put up for auction (Tajan, 2002). We again find the same characteristics of this torso, finally, in the woman representing Spring in the "Four Seasons" group at the Cachan Ecole Normale Supérieure (1953).