I now realize what a rare privilege it was to have dinner beneath the 700 000€ Lalanne suspension and facing the Alechinski painting at Daniel Marchesseau‘s house in the 7 th arrondissement. It was always a round table of ten, slightly too tight with a mix of collectors, young curators, beautiful ladies and blinis and salmon eggs eaten with the Lalanne spoons. This top museum curator who worked for Musée d’Art Moderne Paris, Musée des Arts Décoraitfs, Musée de la Vie Romantique and for many Japanese museums as well as Fondation Gianadda in Martigny, is giving up for sale his very personal collection of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne‘s animals, suspensions and sculptures. The proceeds of the auction, at 2.30 pm on Tuesday 24 th, conducted by François de Ricqlès for Sotheby’s, will go towards restoring the XVII th century Hotel de Mailly-Nesle which was acquired by Musée d’Orsay in 2016. Misia Sert lived there in 1905. It will become a documentation and research center for art historians on the same block as the museum.
“The works left my apartment a few days ago and I’m sobbing every morning but my goal is far more important than keeping these works for myself, so it’s over. The Lalannes were friends of mine for 50 years. I did commission some of the works myself but these weren’t official commissions, they were friendly requests. Ours was a wonderful relationship, so happy, friendly, trusting. I feel privileged to have known them and shared this pure friendship with them.” Marchesseau who recently curated a Caillebotte exhibition in Martigny, has written many catalogues on XX th century artists but his relationship to the Lalannes was particularly intimate.
The couple of artists lived near Fontainebleau and Marchesseau often visited their studio on week ends as a neighbor. They were never very rich during their lifetime and their huge success started with the Saint Laurent sale at Grand Palais in February 2009 when 15 mirrors sold for almost 2 million €. Recently a number of tableware pieces by Claude Lalanne sold at Christie’s for a large amount. And MAD is exhibiting for a few more weeks the donation made by their daughters to the French state.
Marchesseau’s mother was a teacher of French literature at William and Mary‘s college in Williamsburg, in the US, his grandfather Jean Marie Carré was a professor of comparative literature at the Sorbonne and André Joubin his other ancestor, published the correspondence and journal of Delacroix and was curator of Musée Fabre in Montpellier and director of Bibliothèque Doucet in Paris. So he is well aware of the importance of teaching and research for art curators. He is also the most generous of friends, always ready to share them as well as to offer his knowledge on specific topics. He is surrounded by young art history students and there is nothing that the likes more than to influx his huge artistic and musical culture into the younger generations.
The eighteen lots put at auction are as diverse as a drawing or a pigeon lamp by François Xavier. Twelve silver spoons in the shape of a shell by Claude, the famous sheep in concrete which Guy de Rothschild cherished so much in his Normandy garden of Meautry, the suspensions with butterfly and mice, the apple mouth, and my favorite, the turtle topiary. What makes this collection so special is that every piece was acquired directly from the artists and most of them are either a prototype of unique, like the bronze suspension. A Barracuda Baccarat crystal paper knife, salt and paper shakers, pigeon candle holders, a shoe horn, all items convey the extreme poetry of the Lalanne’s work.
So the 24 th of June will be a great day at Sotheby’s where François de Ricqlès will be on stage to auction this collection but also more XXth century unique design pieces including a Grand Rhinoceros by Lalanne and pieces by Diego Giacometti about whom Marchesseau recently published a monography. And in 2025, the Daniel Marchesseau research center adjacent to Musée d’Orsay will open for the benefit of a new generation of museum curators and researchers. Marchesseau has a vision and he is generous enough to finance it.
Important Design sale At 2.30 on May 24. Exhibition at Sotheby’s, Fbg Saint Honoré, Wed, 18 May 22 • 10h-18h Thur, 19 May 22 • 10h-18h Fri, 20 May 22 • 10h-18h Sat, 21 May 22 • 11h-19h Mon, 23 May 22 • 10h-18h.
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