After 80 years behind the scenes 'Les Girls' returns to the art market stage
Les Girls, a carved ivory and patinated bronze sculpture of three jazz age dancing girls by Demetre Chiparus, will be offered with estimates of £160,000-£180,000 at the Decorative Arts sale at Bonhams, New Bond Street on 18th June.
The bronze chorus girls on an elaborate marble base, were probably modelled on three members of the Tiller Girls, a popular dance troupe who performed in Paris in the glittering 1920s.
Each girl wears a skin tight costume in purple 'lizard skin' adorned with gilded embellishments which would have shocked and captivated audiences of the time. The modern costumes represent the new found freedoms for women and for female expression in the Jazz age.
The Tiller Girls would have been greatly admired by Demetre Chiparus as he sat in the audience of the cabarets at the famous Paris music halls of Les Folies Bergères or Casino de Paris which provided the subject of much of his work. A Tiller line-up could be as many as 32 girls of identical height and weight, dancing in perfect unison with arms linked. The Tiller Girls were highly trained and precise; most famous for their high-kicking routines.
Les Girls comes to Bonhams following a spectacular run of success that the auction house has had with leading works by Demetre Chiparus, including The Dolly Sisters, Almeria and The Finale.
The vendor's family purchased Les Girls as new during the 1920s from Finnegans Department store in Manchester and have looked after it ever since. Bonhams recent success however inspired the family to pass Les Girls on to a new generation of collector. The vendor had followed the sale of The Finale online and was impressed by the price realised.
Speaking of Les Girls, Mark Oliver, Bonhams Director of Decorative Arts commented: "The group is in wonderful original condition and this is a testimony to how well the vendor and his family have treasured and cared for the group since purchasing it in the 1920s. The demand for key works by Chiparus has been phenomenal at Bonhams over the past 18 months and I look forward to helping clients with their enquiries once the group goes on view at our New Bond Street salerooms prior to the auction on June 18th."
Chiparus (1886-1947) was a Romanian sculptor and artist who lived and worked in Paris. French theatre, Russian ballet dancers and stars of early motion pictures were often the subject of his works.
In 1924, the Olympic Games were held in Paris and visitors from all parts of the world flocked to the city, bringing with them their exotic arts and culture. The 'roaring twenties' jazz age was in full swing and the sexually liberated theatrical cabarets thrived, as did the modern shows of the Ballet Russes.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com