A highly coveted Chiparus

Publié par la Gazette Drouot International

Pieces by the champion of Art Deco and oh-so-prolific sculptor Demeter Chiparus (1886-1947) often come up at auction. They are the gold standard of chryselephantine sculpture, which combines ivory and bronze, such as in this piece. Small exotic dancers in groups or isolated figures, often shown in acrobatic poses and sensual, skin-tight clothes, were popular wedding gifts in the 1920s and 1930s and still have their admirers today. Opening bids usually range from €6,000 to €20,000, depending on the the founder and number of copies, but some rare examples, such as this depiction of Shiva, can expert to surpass €100,000 (let's not forget that an enthusiast paid $207,146 for a similar copy at Christie's London in 2015). The most sought-after - and biggest - models are all dated between 1920 and 1930. Chiparus apparently designed the graceful yet imposing sculpture on offer today around 1925-1928. Art Deco specialist Alberto Shayo suggests that the pose is based on a period magazine photograph of the Ermitage music hall's star dancer, Gipsy Rhouma-Je. That is not surprising. Chiparus was an avid reader of celebrity magazines as well as an unconditional fan of the Ballets Russes and their fantasized vision of the East.