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Henri Laurens

Femme au miroir

Hammered at SEK 1.300.000 at Uppsala Auktionskammares Important Sale 13-15 June 2018

358. Henri Laurens (France 1885‑1954). Femme au miroir. Signed with monogram HL and numbered 5/6.
Stamped with the foundry mark C. Valsuani cire perdue. Patinated bronze, Height 35 cm.

Conceived ca. 1929 and cast in bronze in an edition of 7, numbered 0/6 to 6/6.

This lot is sold to benefit Ph.D. Margaretha Nilsson’s Foundation for Medical Research.

Galerie Louise Leiris, Paris, stock no. 11112, photo no. 7569, (titled “Femme accroupie” on the label).
The collection of Ph.D. Margaretha Nilsson (1937‑2017), Halmstad.

Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Stockholm, ”Henri Laurens”, February-March 1952, exhibition no. 246, cat. no. 19 (titled ”Femme accroupie”).

Galerie Blanche, Stockholm, “Fransk konst” (exhibition catalogue no. 53), January-February 1953, cat. no. 23 illustration of another cast.
Galerie Blanche, Stockholm and Borås konsthall, “Fransk konst” (exhibition catalogue no. 59), March-April 1953, cat. no. 13, illustration of another cast on the cover.
Henri Laurens: Deutschland-Schweiz (exhibition catalogue), Haus am Waldesee, Berlin; Kunsthalle, Basel (& travelling in Germany), 1955‑56 no. 21, illustration of another cast n.p.
Werner Hofman, The Sculpture of Henri Laurens, 1970, illustration of another cast p. 34 and p. 129.
Grand Palais, Paris, Henri Laurens, Exposition de la donation aux Musées Nationaux (exhibition catalogue), 1967, no. 18, illustration of another cast p. 19.
Sandor Kuthy, Henri Laurens 1885‑1954, 1985, no. 48, illustration of another cast p. 95.
Elizabeth Cowling and Jennifer Mundy, On Classic Ground: Picasso, Léger, de Chirico and the New Classicism 1910‑1930, 1990, no. 75, illustration in colours of another cast p. 139.
Henri Laurens, Rétrospective (exhibition catalogue), Musée d’Art Moderne de la Communauté urbaine de Lille, Villeneuve d’Ascq, 1993, no. 71, illustration in colours of another cast p. 165.


Henri Laurens is considered one of the most important and influential French sculptors of the 20th century. His artistic career was very successful, it lasted over several decades and he was regularly invited to exhibit at significant biennales and museums around the world during his lifetime. Today, we find the works of Henri Laurens represented in all major museums and prominent collections around the world.

Above all, it was the female body that inspired Henri Laurens. In fact, one could even regard his artistry as a tribute to the femininity. The human body met a perfect match in the sensitivity in Laurens hands and the roughness in the solid materials he used – stone, bronze and terracotta.

Henri Laurens was born in Paris in 1885 as a son of a workman. Already at the age of 13 his artistic skills were revealed when he made his first sculptures. He started to work in a decoration and construction firm where he trained to create sculptural ornaments. At the same time he attended drawing classes in the evenings, learning to transform something three-dimensional into a two-dimensional drawing on a paper. These early studies made him appreciate and value the true craftsmanship and gave him a sincere understanding and knowledge about different materials.

In 1902 Laurens moved to the artistic quarters in Montmartre. The world was changing; the artistic avant-garde was an inspiring environment, full of optimism about what was yet to come. The creativity was blown as a whirlwind throughout the city. Laurens’ early works reflects the influence of the great master Auguste Rodin, but when he in 1911 met Georges Braques and in him found a true friend that would become lifelong, he was inspired by Braques’ Cubism. In 1913 Laurens participated in the Salon des Indépendants for the first time and later was introduced to Picasso who admired his works. Picasso in his turn presented him to the prominent gallery owner Léonce Rosenberg who became a very important supporter that greatly appreciated Laurens sculptures. Rosenberg arranged Laurens first solo-exhibition at Galerie l’Effort Moderne in Paris in 1917, an exhibition that was well-received by the critics.

In the 1920’s Laurens sculptures turned into a more organic, curvaceous and rythmical abstract style that were inspired by nature. After the First World War Laurens, as well as many others of his avant-garde friends, rejected the Cubism in favour of a more natural classicism. From now on he was inspired and influenced by other contemporary sculptors and friends, such as Henri Matisse and Aristide Maillol. Maillol was his neighbour in Étang-la-Ville, a village nearby Paris where Laurens was also working and living, and divided his time between the Paris studio and the countryside life. Laurens shift in his oeuvre has been described by himself with the following words: ”I strive for the ripeness of form – I would like to make them so full and luscious that nothing more could be added to them.”

This sale includes the sculpture in bronze ”Femme au miroir”, conceived in 1929. When creating this work, Laurens was at the height of his career. This powerful, yet lyrical and poetic woman, combine the sensuality of the figure with the abstract and geometric form that exemplifies the greatness of Henri Laurens artistry. The sculpture exists in an edition of seven where this is number 5/6, it has been casted by Valsuani and originates from Galerie Louise Leiris in Paris. The figure, which has been modelled from a central cylinder, has been reduced to abstraction, where the slight turn of the womans head and her breasts are the things that identify the female body. Looking into her mirror, reflecting herself, is a theme that for centuries has been interpreted by artists around the world. With the legs and arms bent in harsh angles this work resembles the influence of tribal and primitive works of art such as Egyptian, Greek and Roman sculptures.

In 1938 the Swedish public for the first time had the opportunity to meet the works of Henri Laurens, in a group exhibition that toured from Oslo to Copenhagen and Stockholm. The other fellow artists were George Braque, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso. Later on he also had several exhibitions in the most prominent Swedish galleries at the time; Svensk-Franska Konstgalleriet, Galleri Samlaren and Galerie Blanche. In 1948 and -50 he was represented at the Venice Biennale and in 1951 a major retrospective was organized by the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris. Undoubtfully Henri Laurens is one of the greatest sculptors of all times and his contributions to the art history can never be questioned.

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