Christie’s Announces Three Leading European Art Dealers to Curate Pop-Up Exhibition at Hong Kong Convention Centre During May Auction Season

Robert Bowman – Didier Claes –  Xavier Eeckhout

25 to 29 May 2018

Left: Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917), Le Baiser (The Kiss), 2nd Reduction, Conceived in 1886 © Courtesy Bowman Sculpture , Centre: Rembrandt Bugatti (Italian 1884-1916), Asian Elephant walking, circa 1909-1910 © Courtesy Xavier Eeckhout Gallery, Right: GABON (Makokou-Mékambo) Kota Mask, Presumed period: late 19th to early 20th century © Studio Philippe de Formanoir

As part of Christie’s ongoing commitment to facilitating the public exhibition and sale of works of art from a broad variety of categories to global audiences, a special exhibition will be staged from 25 to 29 May by three leading European dealers at the Hong Kong Convention Centre, during Christie’s spring season of activities.

Guillaume Cerutti, Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s: “We have invited Robert Bowman, Didier Claes and Xavier Eeckhout, three highly respected figures in the art industry, to bring a selection of works of art to our flagship public exhibition in Asia. Christie’s is not only committed to exhibiting and celebrating artworks from across era and cultures, we also wish to forge stronger relationships with our partners in the trade through projects such as this. These selling exhibitions offer a wonderful opportunity to collectors in Asia.”


Bowman Sculpture specialises in works by leading artists, ranging from the 19th century through to the present day, and is the foremost gallery in the world for sculpture by Auguste Rodin (French, 1840-1917). During Christie’s May season in Hong Kong, Bowman Sculpture will present a selection of works by Rodin, whose celebrated sculptures have become icons of modern art. Highlighting the collection will be Rodin’s Le Baiser (The Kiss) (conceived in 1886), one of the artist’s best known sculptures. Originally conceived as part of The Gates of Hell, it was first exhibited as an independent group in Paris and Brussels in 1887. The Kiss represents the tragic love story of Paolo and Francesca da Rimini from Dante’s Inferno. Today, with its blend of eroticism and idealism, The Kiss is considered an emblem of love and passion and will be displayed alongside Rodin’s L’Éternel Printemps (Eternal Spring) (conceived in 1884)also inspired by Paolo and Francesca.

The exhibition will also present Le frère et la soeur (Brother and Sister) (conceived in 1890), a rare collaboration between Rodin and the famous female sculptor Camille Claudel, who was Rodin’s lover and studio assistant. Madly in love but unable to abandon his partner of many years Rose Beuret, the relationship between Rodin and Claudel ended in 1890, the same year that Le frère et la soeur was conceived. While the sculpture is signed by Rodin and acknowledged as being a work he created, the original figure for the young woman was in fact modelled on Claudel’s La Jeune Fille à la Gerbe (Young Girl with a Sheaf). Using Claudel’s original form, Rodin made slight alterations to the composition including the addition of the small child. Le frère et la soeur (Brother and Sister) is the only known work in which Rodin directly collaborated with Claudel and was greatly received by collector’s during Rodin’s lifetime, perhaps because of its tender nature which differentiated it from the sombre figures that characterised The Gates of Hell. As a result, numerous museum collections around the world currently house versions of this model; including the Musée Rodin (Paris), the Fitzwilliam Museum (Cambridge), Walker Art Gallery (Liverpool), the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC) and the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston).

Robert Bowman: “Rodin sits among the greatest sculptors since Michelangelo. While acquiring sculpture by Michelangelo is impossible, it is still possible to collect world class sculptures by Rodin. At Bowman Sculpture, we guide collectors through the maze of numerous casts, offering only the very best works from the artist.”


The Didier Claes gallery will display a selection of important masks, highlighted by a Kota mask from Gabon, along with a Chokwe mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and an Ibibio mask from Nigeria. The Kota masks are a rare and still unknown aspect of Kota art, discovered in the 20th century in North Kota, eastern Gabon. This mask (presumed period: late 19th to early 20th century), is known as an Emboli or Empoli and is a helmet mask of impressive height, carved out of wood. The mask reflects dreamlike imagery, merging animal and anthropomorphic motifs. The face is somewhat reminiscent of reliquaries with bulging eyes, a flat triangular nose and a rectangular mouth. The spots on the mask symbolise the panther and represent a warlike strength, while the ridge recalls the sagittal crest of the male gorilla, which evokes a powerful spirit of the forest. These masks appear at festivals and during the initiation ceremonies.

The exhibition will also feature a Pwo female mask (presumed period: late 19th to early 20th century), an outstanding example of a traditional Chokwe mask. Carved in wood, the mask features half-closed almond eyes with arched brows and patterns of scarification. The mask honours the founding female ancestors from who the Chokwe trace their descent and are often worn during ceremonies to bring fertility and prosperity to a community.

The Ibibio mask (presumed period: late 19th to early 20th century) originates from southwest Nigeria. The mask has an emaciated appearance and the design is indicative of death or to the diseases common to the area. These masks are worn during annual ceremonies and relay the connection between the world of the living and that of their ancestors, who are responsible for the welfare of the tribe.

Didier Claes: “On the occasion of the exhibition organised by Christie’s in Hong Kong with two other gallery owners, Xavier Eeckhout and Robert Bowman, my gallery will present a selection of important masks. The selected group includes a Chokwe mask from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, an Ibibio from Nigeria, and also a rare masterpiece: a Kota mask from Gabon. Power, exaltation and discovery will be the themes of this exhibition. The gallery has decided to participate in this exhibition for two reasons; it is a lovely opportunity to exhibit in a fabulous city with an exciting, fast-paced art scene and the Didier Claes gallery is honored to work in collaboration with Christie’s and great art dealers: Xavier Eeckhout and Robert Bowman.”


Xavier Eeckhout is an expert in the field of animal sculpture, offering an eclectic and varied array of works. Among the highlights on display during the exhibition, Galerie Xavier Eeckhout will present Rembrandt Bugatti’s (Italian, 1884-1916) Asian elephant walking (circa 1909-1910). Bugatti sought to capture the strength, movement and character traits of these majestic mammals, dedicating a series to sculpting elephants from 1907 to 1910. Also on view from Galerie Xavier Eeckhout will be works by Edouard Marcel Sandoz (Swiss, 1881–1971) including Seated fennec (circa 1920-1930), alongside Two young dogs (1931) by his pupil Enrico-Manfredo Di Palma-Falco (Italian, 1886-1988). Both artists completed their training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris under the tutelage of sculptor Antonin Mercié. Marcel Sandoz’s Seated fennec, portrays his understanding of classical and traditional techniques, knowledge of materials and profound understanding of his subject-matter. Focusing on the study of both wild and domestic animals, Marcel Sandoz was a prominent member of the Societé des Artistes Animaliers, founded in 1912, and went on to establish the French Society of Animalists in 1933.

Xavier Eeckhout: “Accepting Christie’s invitation to promote animal sculpture on the Asian continent is an honour and a project dear to my heart. It is an innovative initiative which encourages collaboration between art dealers and auction houses, thus creating a dynamic which is indispensable in a constantly evolving art market.

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