Art deco sculptures set to light up sale

Two art deco sculptures by a pair of the artistic movement’s leading lights look set to be some of the most sought-after items in a Surrey auctioneer’s sale next month.

A bronze and ivory sculpture entitled Torch Dancer by the German sculptor Edward Ferdinand Preiss will feature in Ewbank’s Silver, Fine Art and Antiques auction alongside Antinea by the Romanian-born Demetre Chiparus.

Both pieces, which have been in the same family collection for over 40 years, have been sitting in the hallway of a Surrey family home after they were inherited from an uncle.

About Demetre Chiparus

The evocative figure of Antinea by Romanian sculptor Chiparus, who worked in Paris in the early 20th century, has been valued at between £8,000 and £12,000The evocative figure of Antinea by Chiparus, who worked in Paris in the early 20th century, has been valued at between £8,000 and £12,000. It is a striking example of his’ work and highlights the renewed interest in Egyptian mythology while exemplifying his technique. Chiparus was a master of chryselephantine sculpture – the collaboration of bronze and ivory to represent cloth and flesh.

Chiparus’ style captured the zeitgeist of the 1920s art deco style and he was heavily influenced by the culture and context of the time rather than echoing the styles of pre-war Europe.

Senior partner, Chris Ewbank said: “After the First World War, Europe experienced an enormous cultural shift, particularly for women, and the Art Deco movement captures this perfectly. Whereas previously the female form had been confined to depictions of mothers and royalty, the inter-war period cast the female form as an elegant, stylised and fashionable figure.

“The influence of the motion picture film industry gave rise to a new emboldened depiction of women as powerful and sexual icons, with the added mystique of Orientalist or Egyptian-esque allegory prompted by the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922.

“The use of chryselephantine sculpture was traditionally for religious items and its adoption by the Art Deco movement gave a suggestion of drama to Chiparus’ goddess-like figures. The subject chosen for this particular sculpture is synonymous with the theme of strong mystical women: the ficitional Saharan Antinea of Atlantis built a red marble mausoleum to store the bodies of her lovers, each plated in orichalcum, until all of the 120 catacombs were filled. She was then enthroned on an orichalcum throne in the centre for eternity.” The sale estimate is £8,000-12,000.

Edward Ferdinand Preiss Sculpture

The Preiss sculpture, the iconic Torch DancerThe Preiss sculpture, the iconic Torch Dancer, by contrast to the imposing figure of Antinea, is caught gracefully in mid-dance, the ivory carved with his signature, elongated limbs and elegant movement. It carries a pre-sale guide price of between £1,000 and £2,000.

Preiss was often influenced by contemporary dancers of the age, particularly Russian dancers, many of whom can be recognised in his sculptured. The Torch Dancer is one of Preiss’ most popular designs due to its daring composition and detailed workmanship.

Chris Ewbank added: “Chiparus and Preiss’ works were not one-offs: they would make numerous copies through trusted foundries, including Etling et Cie in Paris, and oversee their quality. It is the personal attention to detail and quality of materials for which both Chiparus and Preiss have become revered.

“The cold-painting of the bronze in enamel paint, the fine workmanship of the ivory carving and the luxuriant use of hardstones, such as onyx and marble by Chiparus, sets their pieces above other sculptors of the period and have led to their continued popularity among collectors.”

The sale takes place on September 13.

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