Purchase Story

Fireworks for Leleu Lots in the U.K.

The design sale held by Sworders in Stansted Mountfitchet, England, on January 26 included ten lots of work by Art Deco giant Jules Leleu (1883-1961), one of the largest groups of pieces by Leleu to come to market in recent years. The collection was consigned by the Greek descendants of Celestine Galani, the wife of shipping magnate John Galani. Eight of the ten lots sold.

John Black, head of the 20th-century art and design department at Sworders, with the Feux d’artifice pattern rosewood and marquetry cabinet by Jules Leleu that sold for $62,289, and commode, $78,306.

John Black, head of the 20th-century art and design department at Sworders, with the Feux d’artifice pattern rosewood and marquetry cabinet by Jules Leleu that sold for $62,289, and commode, $78,306.

Arriving at Sworders from the Mediterranean just before Christmas, they included a Feux d’artifice (Fireworks) pattern rosewood and marquetry cabinet and commode. These sold to the New York trade bidding on Sworders Live against the phone for £45,500 ($62,289 U.S.) and £57,200 ($78,306 U.S.) respectively; prices include buyer’s premium. They had been estimated at £10,000/15,000 and £20,000/30,000 each.

Other sales included a rosewood and marquetry cocktail cabinet that sold for £5330 ($7297 U.S.); a rosewood and marquetry games table, £7800 ($10,678 U.S.); a rosewood and marquetry escritoire, £3510 ($4805 U.S.); a sycamore parquetry cabinet, £2470 ($3381 U.S.); and six mahogany chairs, £936 ($1281 U.S.).

Born into a family of artisans and artists in Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France, Leleu was one of the fathers of French Art Deco design. He exhibited in Paris at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs in 1925, the event that gave Art Deco its name, and designed the chairs for the Grand Salon and the Music Room of the French embassy’s exhibition. His commissions included work for the ocean liners Île de France and the famed and ill-fated Normandie plus a dining room for the Elysée Palace, and the Grand Salon des Ambassadeurs at La Societé des Nations in Geneva, called the Salon Leleu.

John and Celestine Galani had been friends of Leleu. Their Paris apartment at 81 Avenue Marceau was less than a mile away from the Maison Leleu at 65 Avenue Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Celestine commissioned him to decorate the entire apartment in the 1940s.


Originally published in the March 2021 issue of Maine Antique Digest. © 2021 Maine Antique Digest

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