A Collection of the Very Best of René Lalique to be Offered in Dedicated Paris Auction
On 17 December, Sotheby’s will offer a rare museum-quality collection of pieces by René Lalique, all appearing at auction for the first time. Assembled by aesthete Claude H. Sorbac (1921 – 2021), the array traces the career of the ingenious designer and key figure of Art Nouveau through 39 exceptional pieces, including several works purchased from Lalique’s heirs. Together, the pieces pay a dazzling tribute to the creativity of René Lalique as well as to the discerning eye of the collector.
Claude Henri Sorbac was born to a long line of art lovers and he grew up surrounded by a collection of paintings and art objects, including great works by the likes of Renoir, Sisley, Degas and Tiepolo. Sorbac was forced to leave home during the Second World War, and at the age of 22 he joined the 1st Moroccan Spahi Regiment and participated in the Liberation of Paris. Upon his return, he started his journey as an entrepreneur, and at the same time made his first foray into collecting antiques.
Crédit: Sotheby’s / Art Digital Studio
Sorbac quickly took an interest in Art Nouveau and its principal representatives such as Gallé, Daum, Mucha, Majorelle, and, of course, Lalique. It was not long before his passion for pieces by Lalique became his main interest, to which he devoted several decades – traveling to flea markets and auctions alike to seek out the best of the best. A letter from his daughter reads: “Lalique took hold of you: captivated, fascinated, enthralled you. Each day you told us of him. Under his enchantment, your life would change”. As a result, his collection encapsulates the artist’s expertise, his many sources of inspiration, and his charts collaborations with other creatives, such as Sarah Bernhardt and Edmond Rostand. Works from his exhaustive collection have been featured in several exhibitions internationally, at prestigious institutions such as the Musée des Arts Décoratifs de Paris, the Smithsonian Institute, the Kyoto National Museum and the Kremlin in Moscow.
An avant-garde artist-designer, René Lalique worked in every field from jewelry, goldsmithing, and illustration to sculpture and glassware. The collection highlights his pioneering use of innovative materials such as glass, aluminum, bronze and copper, mingled with other “nobler” materials such as diamonds, precious gems and gold. The pieces on offer perfectly illustrate the artist’s bold spirit, from themes emblematic of his oeuvres, such as the Orchidée Cattleya and Hirondelles Amoureuses combs, to more unexpected ones relating to the cultural scene of his time, such as pieces in connection with the play Chantecler written by Edmond Rostand in 1910.
Established in 1744, Sotheby’s is the world’s premier destination for art and luxury. Sotheby’s promotes access, connoisseurship and preservation of fine art and rare objects through auctions and buy-now channels including private sales, e-commerce and retail. Our trusted global marketplace is supported by an industry-leading technology platform and a network of specialists spanning 40 countries and 50 categories, which include Contemporary Art, Modern and Impressionist Art, Old Masters, Chinese Works of Art, Jewelry, Watches, Wine and Spirits, and Interiors, among many others.
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