François-Xavier Lalanne - Design New York Tuesday, June 7, 2022 | Phillips

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  • The present lot, François-Xavier Lalanne’s Mouton de Pierre, represents a significant work in the artist’s oeuvre, a fantastic menagerie of creatures. Lalanne was born in southwestern France in 1908 and attended the Academie Julien in Paris, where he studied under acclaimed painted Jules Cavaillès. In Paris, he was introduced to such artists and Max Ernst and Man Ray, whose surrealist influences manifest in Lalanne’s constellation of recurring motifs of animals. As a young artist, Lalanne was a security guard at the Louvre, Paris; assigned to the Egyptian and Assyrian galleries, he encountered ancient sculptures of various fauna, all marked by a profound stillness and natural self-containment. 
    "François-Xavier Lalanne’s has brought an entire flock of sheep…It is the most amazing thing in the show."
    Lalanne first debuted his Moutons in 1966, under the moniker Pour Polytheme (For Polythemus). The title was a reference to Homer’s Odyssey; the cyclops Polythemus imprisons Odysseus and his compatriots, who escape their captivity by clinging onto the bellies of the monster’s giant sheep. This vignette in the epic poem was a favorite subject amongst Baroque painters, who were likely drawn to the scene for its variegated textures and unusual contortions of the body.  While most art historians and critics often cite surrealism as Lalanne’s primary creative influence, the Moutons showcase the inventive effect of ancient mythology, while also recalling Lalanne’s tenure at the Louvre.  


    Jacob Jordaens (1593-1678), Odysseus in the Cave of Polythemus, 1635.


    Lalanne initially made his sheep from bronze and wool, creating a flocculent first generation of ovine. In 1979, Lalanne created a herd for the Agen-Foulayronnes vocational school, employing epoxy stone to allow for the sheep to be displayed outside. Lalanne continued to make closed editions of epoxy sheep to be exhibited outdoors, perhaps in recognition of their pastoral origins. The Mouton de Pierre reiterates Lalanne’s wit, the title translating to “Sheep of Stone” in English, an eponym dedicated to the medium. 

    • Provenance

      Private collection, United States
      Acquired from the above

    • Literature

      Les Lalannes: Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne, New York, 1988, cover
      Daniel Marchesseau, Les Lalanne, Paris, 1998, p. 146
      Daniel Abadie, Lalanne(s), Paris, 2008, pp. 186-87
      Paul Kasmin, Claude & François-Xavier Lalanne, New York, 2012, n.p.
      Adrian Dannatt, Les Lalanne, Fifty Years of Work, New York, 2015, pp. 106, 108

Property of a Gentleman


"Mouton de Pierre"

designed 1979, executed 1988
Epoxy stone, patinated bronze.
34 x 36 x 15 in. (86.4 x 91.4 x 38.1 cm)
Number 79 from the edition of 250. Underside of muzzle impressed fxl/LALANNE/79 / 250 and underside of body incised 1988 LALANNE.

Full Cataloguing

$300,000 - 500,000 

Sold for $529,200

Contact Specialist

Benjamin Green
Associate Specialist

Associate Head of Sale

[email protected]
+1 917 207 9090


New York Auction 7 June 2022