11 Rembrandt Bugattis for sale

Eleven sculptures by my latest obsession Rembrandt Bugatti are going on sale in Sotheby’s Impressionist & Modern Art sales on May 5th and 6th in New York City. The Bugattis are from the S. Joel Schur Collection, which is wide considered one of the finest, if not the finest, group of Rembrandt Buggati pieces in private hands.

The sculptures include some of Bugatti’s most famous pieces like the Babouin Sacré Hamadryas, the planar, Cubist-style baboon which prefigured the Art Deco and Cubist movement. It is estimated to sell for $2-$3 million.

The lowest estimate is a mere $80,000–$120,000 for Marabout au repos, aka a stork at rest. So whichever one of you is getting me that J.M.W. Turner can throw in the Bugatti stork as a stocking stuffer.

'Grand Giraffe Tête Basse' by Rembrandt Bugatti, ca 1910The one I really want, though, is the Grand Girafe tête basse. It’s 25 1/2″ tall and is just so delicate and lovely.

The graceful giraffe, with its willowy neck arched towards the earth, exemplifies Bugatti’s brilliance at capturing the curvilinear elegance of an animal’s anatomy. The artist was so charmed by the poise of this African mammal that he sculpted it in two variations. The present work, which is the most visually complex of the series, holds the pose that can be seen in the photograph of the artist and his subject at the Antwerp zoo. The present bronze, which is numbered along the back edge of the base, is the sixth of an edition of six works ever to be cast of this sculpture.

The estimate for this one is $900,000-$1,200,000. There’s a bronze Degas ballerina doing an arabesque in this sale that is estimated to sell for less than half of that. There are several Rodins that don’t even come close to Bugatti’s price range.

Obviously I’m not the only person completely enraptured by his artistry and tragic story.

On a side note, some furniture by Rembrandt’s father Carlo Bugatti is going to be in an Art Deco sale at Sotheby’s London a couple of weeks after the Modern Art sale. Here’s a rare 1902 desk and chair set that has a bit of Rembrandt’s connection to the natural world in the bird and plant decoration. It’s also somewhat rococo and about as far from Rembrandt’s elegant simplicity as you can get with its copious tassels and geegaws.

Desk and chair set by Carlo Bugatti, 1902