Lost Lalanne classics up for sale at Sotheby’s

A series of Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne classics (think apples, donkeys and ginkgo leaves) have been discovered, hidden inside the late couple's workshop, and are up for sale by Sotheby’s on 4 October 2023

Les Lalannes at Sotheby's
Photographed in the Gardens of the Château de Courances is Pomme de Londres, among the rediscovered Lalanne classics up for sale by Sotheby's
(Image credit: Courtesy Sotheby's)

Sotheby’s Paris showcases just under 20 sculptures by 20th-century French sculptors Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, a leading creative couple who blended decorative arts and natural forms with a touch of surrealism to produce sought-after pieces such as flocks of bronze sheep, a sculptural bar for Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé, and bronze settees with crocodiles for backrests. 

chair from Les Lalanne Sotheby's sale, seen in garden

‘Williamsburg’ chair

(Image credit: Courtesy Sotheby's)

The husband-and-wife duo lived and worked in a sprawling home in Ury, near Fontainebleau to the southeast of Paris, which over five decades they had filled to the brim with their unique creations. All were sold after Claude’s death in 2019 in a landmark auction – or so we thought. In fact, one set of the Lalannes’ designs was so well hidden it wasn’t discovered until much later, and is only now available to collectors. 

Planted donkey sculpture from Les Lalanne Sotheby's sale, seen in garden

‘Âne Planté’

(Image credit: Courtesy Sotheby's)

A pair of François-Xavier’s large bronze bull sculptures had concealed a small door leading to a room containing a handful of the artists’ designs – a capsule collection perfectly capturing the inimitable spirit of Les Lalanne. It comprises pieces such as a ‘Ginkgo’ bench, ‘Papillon’ chair, stunning fan-shaped ‘Éventail’ vase and ‘Pomme de Londres’ sculpture, all photographed here in the lush gardens of the nearby Château de Courances.

Dove sculpture/chair, part of Les Lalanne Sotheby's sale, seen in garden

‘Tourterelle’ armchair

(Image credit: Courtesy Sotheby's)

Also featured is the the iconic ‘Boîte de Sardines‘, or tin of sardines – a surrealist piece the artists loved so much they actually bought it back for themselves in 2005. It was originally commissioned in 1971 by high-society supermodel Jane Holzer, who was curating an exhibition of furniture in New York at Leo Castelli Gallery (the dealer to Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly), and was in later years acquired by legendary collector Alexander Iolas.

The exhibition will be open to the public from 30 September–3 October; the auction will take place on 4 October, both at Sotheby’s Paris, 76, rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.


‘Gingko’ bench from Les Lalanne sale at Sotheby's

‘Gingko’ bench

(Image credit: Courtesy Sotheby's)

Fan shaped vase, part of Les Lalanne Sotheby's sale, seen in garden

‘Eventail’ vase

(Image credit: Courtesy Sotheby's)

sculptural grill, part of Les Lalanne Sotheby's sale

‘Unique Grille’

(Image credit: Courtesy Sotheby's)

Léa Teuscher is a Sub-Editor at Wallpaper*. A former travel writer and production editor, she joined the magazine over a decade ago, and has been sprucing up copy and attempting to write clever headlines ever since. Having spent her childhood hopping between continents and cultures, she’s a fan of all things travel, art and architecture. She has written three Wallpaper* City Guides on Geneva, Strasbourg and Basel.