• Demetre Chiparus Art Deco Innocence
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A charming cold painted bronze and ivory figure of a young woman standing in a demure pose with striking golden colour and intricate hand chased detail, raised on a variegated brown onyx plinth and signed D Chiparus

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£ 7,850

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Bronze, Ivory and Marble

Book Ref

Chiparus – Master of Art Deco. 2nd Edition by Alberto Shayo

Page No.


Chiparus – the lure

“If only, if only. I’ve had a few of those over the years, but the most galling undoubtedly dates back to when I was an impoverished student in Edinburgh, in 1970. What was then an embryonic interest in antiques had me spotting a beautiful sculpture in the window of one of the city’s antique shops. An exceptionally elegant mid-1920s bronze and ivory figure of a dancer, it was priced at £170 – a sum roughly equivalent to half of my annual student grant, and way beyond my means. By the Romanian-born, Parisian-based sculptor Demetre H. Chiparus, and entitled the Dancer of Kapurthala, it would cost me today, if I could find one, around £55,000.

This is no aberration, either. Over the last year or so, the auction and retail prices for Chiparus’s dancing figures have been little short of phenomenal. Other notable examples have included his Russian Dancers, modelled on Nijinsky and Ida Rubinstein in Scheherazade, from the Ballet Russes, fetching £58,000 at Sotheby’s, London, in May; his Starfish Dancer going for £120,000 at Christie’s, also in May; and back in April, at Sotheby’s New York, his chorus line of five dancers, known as Les Girls went under the hammer at $800,000.

So why are admiring collectors with deep pockets prepared to dig so deep? Well, first there is Chiparus’s exquisite and subtly sensual modelling of the female (and also male) form. Secondly, there is the high quality of the casting – at the prestigious Parisian foundries of Edmond Etling & Cie, and Les Neveux de J. Lehmann. And thirdly there is the exceptional decoration: the bronze and ivory (a combination known as chryselephantine) figure of the revue dancer based on the Assyrian Queen Semiramis shown below is typical in its fabulous gilt, silvered and enamelled surface, and it’s stunning onyx and marble base.

Above all of these desirable characteristics, however, is the fact that Chiparus successfully encapsulated in his dancers the spirit, the essence of a most distinctive age. Inspired by Serge Diaghilev’s innovative and colourful Ballets Russes, by sexually liberated French theatrical revues such as Les Folies Bergėre, and also by the rediscovery of ancient Egyptian art (Tutankhamun’s tomb had been excavated in 1922), Chiparus’s dancers appear to personify that most glamorous of eras and that most distinctive of styles: 1920s Art Deco.

I just wish I’d had the means to buy into it back in 1970.”

 Excerpt from article by Judith Miller

SKU: 7562

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