Console table by Diego Giacometti (Swiss, 1902-1985), bronze and glass, signed “Diego” and monogrammed “DG.” The 31¾" x 67" x 15" table was accompanied by a certificate from James Lord; a letter from Pierre Matisse to Serge Matta, the French fashion designer for whom this table was made in 1975; and a May 1982 letter from Matta to the consignor of the table, who purchased it from Matta.
A bronze and glass console table by Diego Giacometti sold at Doyle New York on April 8 for a stunning $1,762,500 (includes buyer’s premium), a world auction record for a work by the artist. Chevreuil, Biche et Bambi (there are a buck, doe, fawn, and three trees on its stretcher) was commissioned in 1975 by French fashion designer Serge Matta for his country house in France.
Serge Matta was the brother of Roberto Matta, a Surrealist painter who was represented by Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York City. Matisse also represented Diego Giacometti. A letter from Pierre Matisse accompanied the lot:
“Mon Cher Serge,
Our friend Diego just told me that the console...that you commissioned for your country house is ready—it is preferable that you come to get it at his studio. I will be in Paris at the end of the month.
According to Doyle’s catalog, the consignor purchased the table directly from Serge Matta in 1982, as attested by another letter that accompanied the lot. It was written by Serge Matta:
“Received the [agreed?] sum for the sale of the console in bronze...signed on the [crossbar ?] Diego and...initialed DG...[made?] for myself from the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York.”
The table was also accompanied by a certificate of authenticity from James Lord (1922-2009), a Giacometti specialist.
The table was estimated at $400,000/600,000, and there was considerable competition up to $1 million. Then two phone bidders competed in $100,000 increments up to $1.5 million. When the hammer fell, the victorious bidder was a dealer in the U.K., bidding for a client. With the buyer’s premium, his total came to $1,762,500. The underbidder was an American collector.
Two other lots of Giacometti tables with a Serge Matta provenance were offered at the same sale. They were also accompanied by letters from Matta. A coffee table (16" x 45¾" x 17"), made circa 1965 and sold by Serge Matta to the consignor in November 1981, brought $92,500 (est. $80,000/120,000). L’Arbre de Vie, a pair of small console tables with branching bronze trees on the stretchers, made circa 1975, sold for $290,500 (est. $300,000/400,000). The trees have a lighter green patina than their black/green frames, and one table is slightly larger than the other (31¾" x 37 5/8" x 12" and 31 5/8" x 37 5/8" x 12").
Originally published in the June 2013 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2013 Maine Antique Digest