There is no need for the Cannes Film Festival to pay tribute to a great man of cinema. The traditional Besch sales around the 15th of August, a specific feature of the house for thirty years, offer this year sculptures, lithographs or ceramics by Jean Marais (1913-1998). Although the artist is known for his talents as an actor (Oedipus Roi), an actor (Fantômas) and a director (Britannicus), he also proved to be a «craftsman», as he liked to qualify at the end of his life.
Jean MARAIS (1913-1998) - "Portrait de Jean Cocteau"
Bronze print with golden patina - Signed and numbered 4/8 - Guyot Creste Fondeur - Height : 41 cm
Estimate : 2000/3000€
Among his creations on sale on August 15, in the saleroom and on the internet, a bronze portrait of Jean Cocteau with a golden patina (estimated between 2000 and 3000€), two sumptuous bronze lion heads and a four-faced photophore very inspired by the style of Cocteau, his friend and mentor. These pieces come from the private collection of Jo Pasquali, former ceramist and heir to Jean Marais. They have always been made in the commune of Vallauris, near Cannes. The actor, famous for having incarnated the Beast in The Beauty and the Beast of Jean Cocteau in 1946, discovers precisely this city of potters thanks to the poet who often came to visit Pablo Picasso in his studio. “When he crossed Vallauris, Jean said to himself, “One day, when I have time, I will do pottery" tells Jo Pasquali.
In the 1970s, Jean Marais experienced a period of depression, both in the theatre and in the cinema. Indebted and receiving few proposals, he then began a new life in the Provence of his dreams, first in Cabris then in Vallauris. It is there that he meets Nini and Jo Pasquali. He very quickly considered us as his family, confides with emotion Jo Pasquali. We helped him to open his own gallery in 1975, but after having spent twenty-five years at his side, I am aware of all that he has offered us in art outfits and especially of humanity», continues, remembering the mornings when his famous neighbour hurried across the hedge separating their gardens to offer them new models to mould.
Christian BERARD (1902-1949) - "Portrait de Jean Marais"
Oil on canvas - 45 x 38
Estimate : 2000/3000€
Without children, the Pasquali couple has chosen over the last few years to sell part of the legacy bequeathed by Jean Marais and to give the money raised to charitable associations. The twenty-three works from which the ancient potter now separates are rich in the friendship that gave birth to them. This is what prompted Jean-Pierre Besch to put them forward in his August sale : I thought it was a nice story to offer to collectors. We tend to forget that, but behind every item on sale, there is human and that is also what makes a work of art valuable,' says the auctioneer, aware that ceramics will not break auction records.
But other pieces pay homage to this legend of the seventh art. Some are signed by his contemporaries. An oil on canvas by Christian Bérard sublimates the young Jean Marais painted with flamboyant red hair. The features of this masculine ideal are also found in the green-patinated bronze sculpture by Arno Breker, a German artist known for being Hitler’s sculptor.
Jean Marais marked the 20th century by his talent and character, without ever betraying his personality. In this, he is closer to Bernard Buffet», says Jean-Pierre Besch, who proposes at auction three paintings of the expressionist painter, including the Portrait of Monsieur Hervé Ségard estimated between 120000 and 150000€. But the main object of this sale remains a 9,32 carats diamond estimated between 120000 and 180000€. «A rare jewel for its intense yellow colour and its signature Graff, one of the largest diamond makers in the world», explains the jewellery expert Édouard De Garo. Decidedly, even without the Cannes Film Festival, the city of luxury manages to surround the cinema with brilliance and splendor!
Auctions Besch, in Cannes (06), From August 14 till 16 - Tel. : 04 93 99 22 60 - www.cannesauction.com
Article published in Le Figaro from August 11, 2020 - Written by Maud CAZABET