Q: Can you tell me if my art deco bronze figure has any value? She is signed Fayral. From what I’ve found, she was a lady lamp, but the globe is missing. She is in very good condition.
A: Our reader adds that the bronze figure with base is 18 inches high. Some time ago, she found a version with globe offered online for what amounts to $2,500 today.
Looking over images sent, we see a bronze female nude figure typical of decorative sculpture from the deco era. Following her function as a lamp, one hand is on a hip, the other arm is raised above the opposing shoulder to support a globe. An incised deco-style wrap across the hips flares at the rear, arcing to a calf. This hides the wiring.
Fayral is a name used by French sculptor Pierre Le Faguays (1892-1935). Known for his graceful female figures in the deco style, he had a prolific output. Scanning the names of some works — Dancer (several versions), Vestal, Diana, Three Graces, Tambourine, Dancer with cymbals on a ball, Veil dancer — you get an idea of his specialty.
The artist also did sculptures of muscular males in poses such as Atlas and an archer.
Deco sculpture is popular and often pricey, but it goes in and out of style. Serious collectors are always in the market, but public enthusiasm waxes and wanes. Currently, we’re in a moderate phase for the genre.
Quite a few deco lady figures are lamps, including models by Fayral/Faguays. Checking auction databases, we found a high-style deco bronze and alabaster lamp by the artist that did not sell at auction in 2012. Another lamp failed to sell in 2011. And there were more that did not sell.
A figure of Diana that is not a lamp brought $26,723 last February. Two others failed to sell. Those that did sell within the last two years brought around $2,000 each. That matches the old price our reader found online.
By this time, smart collectors get the drift that in this genre, buyers go for widely known designs by the artist. The best and most recognizable sells first. It’s all about the “wow” factor.
When visitors walk into a buyer’s house, they should instantly recognize the bronze as signature Fayral. Jaws should drop. That appeal goes a long way to explaining the high-selling Diana. It also explains the weakness of the globeless lamp. It is not complete nor a well-known Fayral design.
On the upside, it will appeal to lamp, deco or Fayral collectors. Who knows? They may have the missing globe or, if they’re not purists, something close.
So now our reader knows that yes, the lamp base has potential value, but it will not sell as high as a complete lamp. She is also clued on recent market results and demand.
We found quite a few deco nudes, including lamps, on eBay. One or two posted at high prices were supposedly signed Fayral. Caveat: Do not buy or sell online unless you know your stuff.