Chrisitie's will be offering at auction in Paris on 27 September 2012, following a pre-sale public exhibition from 11 to 26 (except on Sundays) of the same month, The Collection of Hélène Rochas, also known as ‘la belle Hélène’ or ‘la belle Madame Rochas’.
The collection comprises art works from the Modern and Post-War eras; exquisite examples from the Art Deco period, important furniture and European objets d’art as well as Old Master and 19th century paintings and drawings.
Set aside from the big aristocratic collections as well as from those amassed by the French financial and industrial bourgeoisie, Rochas' preferences were influenced by wealthy foreigners, aesthetes, and collectors who followed the examples of Carlos de Beistegui, Arturo Lopez-Willshaw, Antenor Patiño or even took inspiration from the more modern tastes of Eugénia Errázuriz and Cole Porter.
Alongside her friends Yves Saint-Laurent and Pierre Bergé, Hélène Rochas was one of the first to start an important Art Deco collection. Among the acquired artworks and objects, now to be offered at auction, are a torchère serpent, created by Edouard Marcel Sandoz in 1931 (estimate: €25,000-30,000); a floor lamp by Edgar Brandt & Daum (estimate: €40,000-60,000), Deux masques, circa 1925 by Jean Lambert-Rucki and inlayed with egg shell by Jean Dunand (estimate: €60,000-80,000), as well as four works by Diego Giacometti, led by a Berceau coffee-table circa 1963 (estimate: €60,000-80,000). She explained she found a “dreamlike potential” in the period.
An important sale of her Art Deco collection was organised at Christie’s Monaco in 1990.
In 1974, while living in New York, she commissioned four portraits by Andy Warhol (each estimated at €200,000-300,000), and also acquired Ben Nicholson’s 1933 abstract painting "Fiddle and Spanish Guitar", a testimony to the Abstract movements that led the 1930s art scene (estimate: €300,000-500,000). This work was displayed in her Paris apartment facing a striking Neoclassical sofa previously owned by Arturo Lopez-Willshaw, who had acquired it at the age of just 16 (estimate: €12,000-18,000). It was flanked with a pair neoclassical ormolu and lac burgaute candelabras, from Harewood Castle in England (estimate: €100,000-150,000).
A magnificent 151 x 94 cm life-size Portrait of Lucien Guitry by Edouard Vuillard (estimate: €150,000-250,000), which was featured as number 303 in the Vuillard retrospective at the Grand Palais, Paris September 2003-January 2004, dominated the entrance hall of her Parisian apartment on rue Barbet de Jouy, in the elegant 7th arrondissement.
The living room was presided over by Braunes Schweigen, a 1925 oil painting by Wassily Kandinsky, which hung above a sofa (estimate: €1,5 million-2 million). A large 1954 terracotta vase by Picasso (estimate: €40,000-60,000) stood on one of a pair of Neoclassical side tables (estimate: €80,000-120,000).
The petit salon was the area where Madame Rochas hosted friends and guests, presenting them with a large Balthus painting, Japanese woman with red table, 1967-76, which hung over the entire wall (estimate: €3 million-5 million; dimensions: 144 x 192.2 cm). The work represents Setsuko Ideta, the painter’s second wife, whom he met in Rome, after he was appointed director of the Academy of France at the Villa Medici, and married in 1967. This relationship had a considerable influence on his art, and Setsuko became his muse, adopting a traditional Far-Eastern style. In the same room, above the fire-place sat an important flower bouquet by Jean Fautrier (estimate: €60,000-80,000) once part of the André Malraux Collection.
Both the exhbition and sale will take place at Christie’s, 9 avenue Matignon 75008 Paris.
The Collection of Hélène Rochas (sale 3538) is estimated to realise 8 million euros.