A rare and highly sought-after three-foot wide glass-topped bronze console table by Swiss sculptor and designer Diego Giacometti has been unearthed in a Sussex farmhouse by Gorringes Auctioneers. The table is now due to appear in the auctioneer’s sale in March with an estimate of £200,000 to £300,000.
The discovery was made following a routine visit by auctioneer Clifford Lansberry to the Sussex property where the table, similar to Giacometti’s Promenade des Amis, was situated. Promenade des Amis features three ‘lollipop’ trees with a horse sniffing the branches and three dogs, one of which is ‘scenting’ a tree trunk. This model has appeared at auction over the years and can sell well in excess of £100,000.
Once discovering the Sussex table, the Gorringe’s team embarked on a journey to establish its authenticity. They brought in international expert Denis Vincenot who traveled to Sussex to inspect the item. While he initially expressed some doubts about whether the table was genuine, his subsequent two-month research period confirmed its authenticity.
The Giacometti family remembered the circumstances of the commission, along with the ferronier who worked on the piece who remembered building the work – he had to work outside and it was raining – and his welds were very poor.
The table was a special commission for the Countess de San Jean, an Italian Countess who had a stud farm in Normandy and a villa in the South of France. Every summer she would hold a fundraising ball for animal charities and every year she would commission an artwork as the raffle prize, always from one of the greats, such as Picasso, Dali, Giacometti.
The Giacometti family recall the commission, the countess wanted the framework from a smaller table ‘hommage a Boecklin’ but the decorative elements from ‘Promenade des Amis’. The Countess was unhappy with the finished piece; it was not ‘pretty’. The placement of the figures had to be reworked and the ferronier was summoned. The ferronier usually worked in Diego’s studio, but on this occasion he had to work in a courtyard, in the rain to satisfy the demands of the Countess. The ball took place and the prize was won by a friend of the Countess, an English Lady. The table then descended through to the current owners standing quietly in the corner of a sleepy Sussex farmhouse for over thirty years, much loved but never considered as worth insuring.
The table will now be offered for sale by Gorringes on March 23rd with an estimate of £200,000-300,000.