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Léo Laporte-Blairsy (French, 1865-1923)

Born in Toulon on April 5th of 1865, like many of his contemporaries Léo Laporte-Blairsy was the student of sculptor Jean-Alexandre Joseph Falguiére as well as Antonin Mercié.  He made his first debut at the Salon of the Société des Artistes Français in 1887 and exhibited in 1894 where he won a third-class medal. In 1896 he won a traveling scholarship, a second-class medal in 1898 and finally a first-class medal in 1904.  He achieved a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 before becoming a Chevalier of the Legion of Honour in 1903.  Museum holdings of his works include “Le Réveil de Morphée” of 1894 in Toulouse at the Museum of Augustins, the “Allégorie de la Sculpture” of 1896 decorating the Toulouse School of Fine Arts and “L’Eprave” at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nantes.  His bronze statuette of “Clémence Isaure” surmounts a fountain in Toulouse and several of his raised-relief plaques are held in the permanent collection of the Musée d’Orsay. 

While he initially sought commissions for large public works, he made an active decision to reduce the scale of his work into smaller sculptures, voicing the changes that the twentieth century would bring to the traditional arts as emerging technologies were rapidly evolving.  By 1898, all of his sculptures at the Paris Salon were small in scale.  Ahead of any of his peers, Léo Laporte-Blairsy embraced combustion lighting and saw in it a way to advance his art in a new direction.  He pushed the limits of this in entirely unique applications of lighting in sculpture and became one of the largest sculptors of Art Nouveau lighting alongside his contemporaries Raoul Larche and Agathon Leonard.

He is best known for La Voie Lactée (The Milky Way), La Fée au Coffret (Fairy with Casket), The Chrysanthemum Lady and Woman with Shell, each being an imaginative figural Art Nouveau lamp with light brought forth through their garments or the objects held in hand.  The Gray Museum holds his Neoclassical sculpture Caresse de Faune.  The majority of his work was marketed by M. Houbedine, but La Voie Lactée was edited by Susse Fréres.  He survived World War I and made his final exhibit at the Paris Salon in 1922 with a sculpture of The Studio before his death in Paris the following year. His figural lamps are incredibly rare and are highly sought after by collectors.

Literature & Further Reading:

  • The Dictionary of Western Sculptors in Bronze, James Mackay, 1977, p. 223
  • Bronzes of the Nineteenth Century: Dictionary of Sculptors, Pierre Kjellberg, 1994, p. 406
  • Art Nouveau and Art Deco Lighting, Alastair Duncan, 1978, p. 80-81

 

Noteworthy Sales:

 

  • Bonham’s, 14 March 2012, lot 37 [a pair of 11” H bronze vases], achieved $ 22,192 USD
  • Heritage Auctions, 7 December 2011, lot 66046 [a patinated bronze and shell figural lamp, 15” H], achieved $ 20,315
  • Christie’s, London, 20 April 2011, lot 6 [“La Voie Lactée”, a bronze figural lamp, 16 1/2” H], achieved 22,500 GBP
  • Christie’s, London, 20 April 2011, lot 7 [“La Voie Lactée”, a bronze figural lamp, 16 1/2” H], achieved 51,650 GBP
  • Christie’s, London, 17 October 2018, lot 273 [“La Voie Lactée”, a bronze figural lamp, 16 1/2” H], achieved 43,750 GBP
  • Christie’s, London, 25 September 2012, lot 230 [“La Fée Au Coffret”, a bronze figural lamp, 18 5/8” H], achieved 11,250 GBP
  • Christie’s, New York, 18 December 2007, lot 223 [a bronze figural lamp, 14 1/2” H], achieved $ 8,750 USD