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The Cigarette Girl. Estimate: £20,000 – 30,000. Photo: Bonhams

LONDON.- A stunning and provocative Art Deco statuette, ‘The Cigarette Girl, (£20,000 – 30,000) once owned by Elton John is coming up for auction at Bonhams ‘Design from 1860’ sale on Wednesday 16 June.

During the 1970s, the singer amassed a high quality art deco collection, sparking a fashion among the rich and famous for work of this period – Barbra Streisand was another deco fan. Much of John’s art deco collection was dispersed at auction in 1988.

The bronze and ivory figure shows a self confident young woman, arms crossed, posing playfully and provocatively with her cigarette. Dressed in a remarkably modern way for women of the time (her leather jacket and tight fighting pants – later known as cigarette trousers – bringing to mind the look of Garbo or Deitrich) ‘The Cigarette Girl’ is the work of Brono Zach. Zach specialised in portrayals of women in flirtatious poses and his work has steadily increased in value in recent years. In 2009, Bonhams sold his ‘The Riding Crop’ for the world record price of £60,000.

The sale also features three highly important pieces by the Hungarian sculptor Demetre Chiparus, - ‘Kora’, (£35,000 – 45,000) ‘Priestess’ (£15,000 – 18,000) and ‘Dancer of Kapathala’ (£20,000 – 25,000). These date from the mid 1920s, when Rumanian born Chiparus had been living and working in France for several years, and show the enduring influence on his work of the Ballet Russes and the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb in 1922.

Stunning Studio Ceramics by Rie, Leach, Coper
The sale ranges from ceramics and glass to furniture, clocks and silver and also features pieces from the great names of 20th century design e.g. Tiffany, Gallé, Lalique, and Knox whose silver and ivory Tea and Hot Chocolate Service on Tray (£10,000 – 15,000) was designed in 1903 and 1905 for Liberty and Co.

Among the studio ceramics in the sale are autograph pieces by the Austrian-born master potter Lucie Rie including a white glazed stoneware waisted tall vase from 1975 (£8,000 – 10,000) and a porcelain tall vase with a flaring lip from 1980 (£5,000 – 7,000). Hans Coper is represented by a bulbous cup on a stand from 1966 (£5,000 – 7,000) and Bernard Leach by, among other pieces, an original tiled fire surround (£3,000 – 3,500) which was made in the mid 1950s for a private property in Cornwall.

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Lucie Rie, A tall vase with flaring lip. Photo: Bonhams