PHILADELPHIA — Freeman’s is honored to present for the first time at auction a private collection of seven sculptures by celebrated artist Francois-Xavier Lalanne in its November 17 Modern and Contemporary Art auction. Anchored by a set of five of Lalanne’s iconic epoxy stone and bronze sheep, or “Mouton de Pierre,” each sculpture in the collection was acquired directly from the artist in the late 1980s and has remained in the same home ever since. The collection, coming from a prominent Washington, D.C. family, includes five Mouton de Pierre of consecutive numbers from a 1988 edition of 250 (estimate: $100,000-$150,000 each), a patinated bronze, Rhinoceros III (estimate: $60,000-$80,000), and a patinated bronze, Elephant (estimate: $40,000-$60,000).
Said Freeman’s Chairman Alasdair Nichol, “Without question, the French sculptor and designer Francois-Xavier Lalanne is one of the most sought-after artists on the current market. Freeman’s is delighted to be bringing a flock of five of his celebrated sheep from an early edition of 250 to market. These exceptional Lalanne works from a prominent private collection are sure to be a highlight of our November 17 auction.”
Francois-Xavier Lalanne was an artist, sculptor, and designer widely known for co-creating alongside his wife, Claude. Commonly referred to as “Les Lalanne,” the pair was united in their inspiration from nature and believed that art should be part of the everyday. While they exhibited together, Les Lalanne maintained distinct styles: Francois-Xavier with a menagerie of stylized and functional animal forms, and Claude with a tendency toward the botanic. The resulting surrealist sculptures are celebrated for their combination of lighthearted energy, whimsical ambiguity, and practical functionality.
The flock of five epoxy stone and patinated bronze sheep represent what is arguably the artist’s most recognizable design. Marrying a streamlined form with atypical materials, the lifelike sheep are versatile for indoor or outdoor exhibition. In relation to the first iteration of this famous motif realized in 1965, Lalanne remarked, “This idea of a herd [of sheep] struck me as a peaceful idea…it’s a bit of the countryside in Paris. It’s always easier to have a sculpture in an apartment than a real sheep. And it’s even better if you can sit on it.”
The Rhinoceros III sculpture presented in this collection is the smallest of the rhinoceros variations that Francois-Xavier produced. Of intimate scale and stylized form, this patinated bronze version, along with Lalanne’s Elephant sculpture, have rarely appeared at auction. This set of zoomorphic sculptures will be offered November 17 at 12pm in Freeman’s Modern and Contemporary Art auction, for which the auction house is accepting additional consignments now through October 5.