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Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr to Offer Collection of French Icon Alain Delon in Paris

Alain Delon, 1972
Alain Delon, 1972

The Collection of French film star and legend, Alain Delon, one of the great screen presences of the 20th century, will be offered at Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr in the sale Alain Delon: 60 Years of Passion in Paris on Thursday 22 June 2023. With a superb selection of sculptures and fine drawings from the Italian Renaissance and from the French 19th century, the Alain Delon Collection is made up of masterpieces by great names from the history of art, including Veronese, Beccafumi, Corot, Delacroix, Millet, Dufy, Gleizes and many more. The sale will comprise 81 lots and the total estimate for the works is €4 - 5m.

For more than 60 years, Delon (born 1935) has been a discerning and passionate art collector. He recalls the moment he was bitten by the collecting bug. “There are two things I regard as my legacy; my acting career and my art collection. I am so proud of them both. I bought my first drawing in London when I was 24 and I’ve acquired works ever since. People ask me if there is a thread that binds these pieces together and I say ”C’est moi!“”

Delon’s celebrated acting career began in the late 1950s, but it was during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s that he dazzled in films such as Rocco and His Brothers (1960), The Leopard (1963), La Piscine (1969), Le Samouraї (1967), Le Cercle Rouge (1970), Mr Klein (1976) and Notre Histoire (1984) for which he won the French equivalent of an Oscar, The César Award for Best Actor. Admired for his striking good looks, Delon is equally celebrated for his prowess as an actor and has worked with the leading directors of his day including Luchino Visconti, Jean-Pierre Melville, Louis Malle and Jean-Luc Godard. He was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in 1991 and is the recipient of an honorary Golden Bear and an honorary Palme d’Or.

Anouchka Delon, the daughter of Alain Delon, said: “These marvellous works of art were part of my childhood, and now I am so happy the world is discovering them. I know they have been faithful companions to him and that they give him immense joy.”

Arnaud Cornette de Saint Cyr, CEO, Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr in Paris, commented: “It is easy to see how Alain Delon’s great eye has guided and informed the quality of the paintings, drawings and objects in his collection. His passion and unparalleled discernment are reflected in his choices: Delacroix, Corot, Millet are alongside works by Dufy, Sérusier and Gleizes. It is a great honour to offer such a superb selection of drawings, paintings and sculptures carefully collected during the past 60 years.”

The collection will have a global tour, starting in Brussels (19-20 April), then New York (5-9 May), Hong Kong (24-27 May), Geneva (1-3 June), and Paris (17-21 June) before the sale at Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr on Thursday 22 June.

Highlights of the collection include:

La plage de Sainte-Adresse, 1906 by Raoul Dufy (1877-1953). Sainte-Adresse became the main seaside resort of Le Havre at the turn of the 1860s. It attracted tourists and artists alike, among them Boudin, Jongkind and Monet who made Sainte-Adresse a destination for painting. Estimate: €600,000-800,000.

• Two works by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863). Cheval arabe attaché à un piquet (Arab Horse tied to a stake) from 1825 (estimate: €400,000-600,000). Chef Arabe (Maroc) (Moroccan Chieftain) is a fine watercolour painted in 1832, the date of Delacroix’s trip to Morocco when he accompanied the Count of Mornay, the ambassador of King Louis-Philippe. Estimate: €50,000-80,000.

A Landscape by Albert Gleizes (1881-1953). Painted in 1914-15, the work illustrates the new Cubist tendencies embraced by Gleizes after the publication in 1912 of his work Du Cubisme, co-written with Jean Metzinger. Estimate: €200,000-300,000.

• Four works by Jean-François Millet (1814-1875) including Young Girls in Barbizon, circa 1850 estimated at €200,000-300,000) and Normandy Milkmaid, a charcoal drawing estimated at €100,000-150,000. The theme of the Normandy milkmaid dates back to Millet’s youth and was one to which he returned throughout his life.

Genoa, The Apennines, a delicate oil on canvas from 1834 by Camille Corot (1796-1875). A perennial nomad, Corot travelled the length and breadth of provincial France, and lived and worked in Rome, Switzerland, the Netherlands and England. Living part of the year in Ville-d’Avray, he painted extensively, with the concept that light creates life. Estimate: €100,000-150,000.

• A small double-sided pen and bistre wash drawing by Domenico Beccafumi (circa 1486-1551) depicting Saint Anthony on the front and Kneeling Women on the reverse. Estimate: €50,000-80,000.

• Saint George slaying the Dragon in pen and ink by Veronese (1528-1588). Estimate: €40,000-60,000.

• Several works by Jan van Goyen (1596-1665) including Winter Landscape, a watercolour from 1626. The painter and printmaker, Jan van Goyen epitomises the Dutch Golden Age with his naturalistic landscapes. Estimate: €30,000-50,000.

Un lion couvrant une lionne by Georges Lucien Guyot (1885-1976), as well as bronzes by Antoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875), represent Alain Delon’s great love for animal art. Estimate: €30,000 - 40,000.

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