buying for less than 300 euros at an antiques dealer, a rare chandelier by Alberto Giacometti can be worth several million

On February 28 in London, Christie’s is auctioning off an extraordinary chandelier by Alberto Giacometti. Bought at a thrift dealer for £250, the artwork is currently estimated at between £1.5 and £3 million.

In 2021, a Maeght Foundation exhibition in Saint-Paul-de-Vence highlights the work of the Giacometti family, in particular by presenting stunning pieces of furniture created by Alberto and/or Diego Giacometti. On February 28, Christie’s is auctioning off a unique lamp by Alberto. Purchased for 250 pounds sterling (280 euros) by painter John Craxton in an antique shop on Marylebone Road in London in the 1960s, Chandelier for Peter Watson estimated today between 1.5 and 3 million pounds sterling (from 1.8 to 3.4 million euros). Take a look back at the fascinating history of this object which is much more than a simple light.

A chandelier that combines surrealism and minimalist lines

During his career, Alberto Giacometti created decorative objects in addition to his work as a sculptor. Together, Alberto and his brother Diego began making furniture from 1929. In 1946-1947, British collector Peter Watson (1908-1956) ordered a chandelier from Alberto Giacometti during a trip to Europe. Comprised of organic and geometric details, the object presents at the base of its central shaft a spherical skewered ball. It is reminiscent of the artist’s famous surrealist sculptures hanging ball (1931) currently presented in the exhibition “Alberto Giacometti / Salvador Dalí. Jardins de rêves” at the Giacometti Foundation in Paris, until April 9.

Alberto Giacometti Suspended Ball, 1930 – 1931, (1965 version) plaster, painted metal, rope / 60.6 x 35.6 x 36.1 cm Fondation Giacometti © Succession Alberto Giacometti / Adagp, Paris 2022

that Chandelier for Peter Watson presents elements of the different artistic currents that occupied Giacometti during this productive periodexplained Christie’s. The work combines an almost minimalistic linearity with a subtle whiff of nature and the echoes of the forms that have found expression in his surrealist sculpture.. Peter Watson’s love of surrealism certainly influenced Giacometti to revisit his earlier sculptures. In 1949, luminaires decorated the office hall of the culture magazine “ horizon » in Bloomsbury, London, but pulled out a year later when it closed. The chandelier is then shelved and disappears from circulation… before reappearing disguise in a London antique shop.

Alberto Giacometti, The Chandelier, 1946-47, bronze with brown gold, 134 x 153.5 cm © Christie's Images limited

Alberto Giacometti, The Chandelier, 1946-47, bronze with brown gold, 134 x 153.5 cm © Christie’s Images limited

Only one public exhibition since its creation

In the 1960s, John Craxton, a British neo-romantic painter, surmised that the chandelier had been made by a Swiss sculptor and bought it for 250 pounds. He moved it to his home in Hampstead, North London, for 50 years. It was only after his death in 2009 that his heirs finally decided to authenticate the luminary. The Estate of John Craxton began the long process in 2015 of attesting to the work’s authorship, with expert James Glennie of Art & Antiques Appraisals.

Portrait of Alberto Giacometti, c.  Photo 1931: Jacques-André Boifffard.  Archives of the Giacometti Foundation

Portrait of Alberto Giacometti, c. Photo 1931: Jacques-André Boifffard. Archives of the Giacometti Foundation

In December 2021, London insurance broker Aston Lark brought fame to the Giacometti Foundation in Paris, which finally made up its mind. ” Alberto only made half a dozen chandeliersconfided the expert to the English-language media” Security “. But none of them have such a story. that Chandelier for Peter Watson should be considered more as a statue than a lamp. The object has only been exhibited once in public since its creation. First shown in New York, the chandelier will be presented in Paris on 8, 9, 10 and 13 February, before being seen in London from 22 February until it goes on sale.

In recent years, objects by Alberto and Diego Giacometti have reached record numbers in auction halls. In 2018, a chandelier by Giacometti sold for £7.6 million at Sotheby’s in London. It remains to be seen whether Peter Watson will win such a lofty bid and whether an institution is prepared to spend so much on art to definitively join a museum collection.

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