SALE PREVIEW / Line Vautrin
The outstanding creative prowess of the "poetess in metal" is celebrated in Christie's sale - TDE picks five lots to watch.
8th March 2022
ON THE 3RD March, viewing opened for the dedicated Line Vautrin sale that will take place at Christie’s Paris on 8th March. The works on view powerfully illustrate the versatility of the French decorative artist and designer. Titled ‘Différents éclats de paradis’, the auction (estimated total: €1.3m-€1.9m) is poised to cement Vautrin’s reputation for tirelessly creating new forms and techniques. Highly imaginative sunburst convex mirrors, with which Vautrin’s name is synonymous, as well as intricately handcrafted boxes and costume jewellery, are among the 239 lots consigned from numerous collectors.
“Line Vautrin had a constant desire to reinvent herself and it’s fascinating to see how she worked across multiple forms,” says Robin Beyries, Christie’s Decorative Arts and Design specialist who is head of the sale. “Several dates were proposed and we thought it’d be interesting to have a sale of a woman artist on 8th March to mark International Women’s Day.”
The main reason for the sale, however, is the growth of Vautrin’s market. In May 2015, Christie’s sale of the collection of Marie-Laure Bonnaud-Vautrin, Vautrin’s only child, made €3.4m, soaring past the €650,000 estimate as the special provenance of the pieces sparked intense bidding. The mirror ‘Si tous les gars du monde’ (c. 1963), set a new record for the artist, going under the hammer for €421,500, far surpassing the estimate of €80,000-€120,000. Inspired by an ode-to-peace ballad by the French poet Paul Fort, it features dozens of delicate, polychrome figures whose faces are ornamented with gilt-mirror fragments interlinking their arms. Vautrin made the unique piece for herself and it adorned a wall in her Paris apartment until being passed on to her daughter upon her death in 1997.
Born in 1913 to parents who had a foundry, Vautrin began making objects in gilt and silvered bronze as a young girl. After a brief stint working for Elsa Schiaparelli, she gained recognition at the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1937, where she hired a stand and exhibited bronze jewellery, belts, buttons and powder compacts. In her atelier in the Marais, she extended her repertoire to objects such as cigarette cases and trinket boxes. She often incorporated rebuses themed on love, literature and classical mythology, imbuing them with a playful sense of humour.
Having become known as a “poetess of metal”, in 1955 Vautrin developed and patented ‘Talosel’ – a synthetic resin material made from acetate cellulose. Vautrin would form Talosel into thin, superposed layers that she would inlay with fragments of coloured glass. Her fantastical mirrors, such as the ‘Boudoir’ mirror (1967), evolved from this invention and through these works she was taken more seriously as an artist.
“At the beginning, people were interested in her work but had an image of a woman who made small, pretty objects and it was only much later that she was considered an artist and a creative genius,” Beyries says.
Ingrid Bergman, Brigitte Bardot, the author Françoise Sagan and Yves Saint Laurent flocked to Vautrin’s Left Bank boutique on Rue de l’Université to purchase her refined creations. During the course of her career, Vautrin had three stores in Paris, the first two were located near the Champs-Elysées and on the prestigious Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
In the 1980s, the London gallerist David Gill rediscovered Vautrin and introduced her work to a more international clientele. Today, her pieces are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, which held an exhibition of her work in 1999.
Unsurprisingly, given how her work is quintessentially Parisian, Vautrin’s main markets are France and the US. “There’s always something very chic and Parisian about how the themes are approached, such as her boxes evoking the doors and facades of Paris,” Beyries notes.
The Design Edit highlights five lots to watch:
The eclecticism of Vautrin’s creativity abounds in the sale, all the lots of which have been authenticated by the Comité Line Vautrin. Among the standouts is the ‘Grand miroir feuilles vertes’ from around 1960 (Lot 134, estimate €120,000-€180,000). Bringing to mind a straw hat embellished with a wreath of laurel leaves, it exemplifies Vautrin’s manner of working with Talosel and is encrusted with symmetrical green shards of glass.
Meanwhile, Vautrin drew inspiration from the jester’s hat to design the black, flamboyant mirror ‘Folie’ or ‘Le Soleil a rendez-vous avec la lune’ (Lot 179, estimate €80,000-€120,000). Made around 1958, it has irregular triangular shapes emanating from the convex circle. In a different style again is the ‘Boudoir’ mirror from around 1967 (Lot 96, estimate €80,000-€120,000) with tassel-like mirror inlays.
Another highlight is the ‘Fleur’ table lamp from around 1960 (Lot 230, estimate €12,000-€18,000), which typifies how Vautrin gleaned ideas from flowers, as well as pineapples, for some of her lamps. For an example of the gilt bronze boxes made earlier in Vautrin’s career, look at ‘La Ville et la Campagne’ (Lot 122, estimate €8,000-€12,000), from around 1940, which is decorated with facades evoking Paris and the countryside.
Different Shards of Paradise: Works by Line Vautrin at Christie’s Paris.