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Ask A Worthologist Question: Art Deco ‘Fayral’ Figurine

by Mike Wilcox (10/04/11).

An Art Deco figurine WorthPoint member Anne P. bought at a charity auction. After giving it a good once-over, she noticed the piece was signed and there was a foundry mark and started wondering who made it, when and what it might be worth. The answers were: Pierre le Faguays, 1926 and a lot more than she paid for it.

Anne P. has an interesting figurine that she bought at a silent auction fundraiser last month. She bid on it because it was the only thing at the sale she was remotely interested in and buying it would support a cause she felt strongly about. She’s since had the time to examine it, found it was signed and had a foundry marking. At the sale there was not much information provided other than it was a “Art Deco-style figurine, circa 1960.” Now that she’s found a signature, she’s interested in finding out its true origins, how old it really is, and if she got a good deal at $125. Anne contacted WorthPoint’s “Ask a Worthologist” service to inquire about this piece, its origins and value. Her inquiry was forwarded to me, here’s her question:

“I bid on this figurine at a silent auction for a local Green initiative project. Everything in the sale was donated, but most of what was in the sale did not appeal to me, except this piece. It was just listed as “Art Deco-style figurine, circa 1960” and no other information was available about it. The woman who had donated it had herself only owned it briefly and knew nothing about it other than what an interior decorator friend had told her. When I was thinking of where to put this piece for display, I decided to examine it and found two markings on it: a name that looks like Fayral and some kind of company stamp. The figurine appears to be bronze and is about 11 inches tall. I’ve heard that signed bronzes are generally the originals and I’m curious about who made it, how old it is and what it’s worth.”

Here’s my response:

You did well on your purchase. “Fayral” is one of two pseudonyms (Fayral and Guerbe) used by French sculptor Pierre le Faguays (1892-1956 ). “Fayral” and “Guerbe” were the family names for his mother and his wife, respectively. He was born in Nantes, France, and became famous for the illusion of movement he gave his dancers, winning him a medal of honor for his work in 1927. He was a close friend of Max Le Verrier*, owner of the Le Verrier foundry, which produced most, if not all of his pieces.

The Le Verrier foundry mark, which identifies this piece as an original.

The originals have a foundry mark, like the stamp you mentioned in your request. The Fayral figures have been known to be recast from original molds and modern copies are still in production, which has depressed prices for older examples without foundry marks. The one you own is an original, circa 1926, and is cast in white metal with a bronze patina. This patina is part of its original design and, whatever you do, please resist the urge to polish it! That would ruin its value.

In the current market, comparable examples with the original Le Verrier foundry marks sell at auction in the $800-$1,200 range.

* Max Le Verrier, (1891-1973), a fine sculptor in his own right, opened his own foundry in 1926, casting pieces for a wide range of French sculptors of the period, including Pierre Le Faguays, Marcel Bourain, Janle, Denis and Charles. From the very beginning, his foundry had a reputation for very high quality work and exceptional detailing .

Mike Wilcox, of Wilcox & Hall Appraisers, is a Worthologist who specializes in Art Nouveau and the Arts and Craft movement.

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