In the early 19th century, designer Jeanne Lanvin founded what is now France’s oldest couture fashion house, Lanvin, in Paris. Her daughter, Marie-Blanche de Polignac, would not only go on to take the reins at the house. She would also take up one of Lanvin’s other passions—art collecting.
Now, the Polignac Foundation, the holding entity responsible for the family’s assets, is selling five Impressionist works by French artists, including a pastel by Edgar Degas depicting a backstage ballerina that has been held privately for six decades, in Sotheby’s Impressionist and modern art evening sale in Paris on March 25. The Degas pastel is estimated to sell for €2 million–€3 million ($2.5 million–$3.6 million).
A longtime patron of the arts in France, de Polignac forged ties with figures like Salvador Dali and Jean Cocteau. She was also painted by Eduard Vuillard; that portrait of the Lanvin director in her home, done in 1928–32, is housed at the Musée d’Orsay.
The organization is also selling four additional works de Polignac inherited from her mother, including another pastel by Degas featuring portraits of Mademoiselle Salle (1886), estimated at €250,000–€350,000; a pastel by Camille Pissarro titled Deux jeunes filles dans un jardin (ca. 19th century) at €120,000–€180,000, a painting by Pierre-Auguste Renoir titled La belle saison (1872) at €400,000–€600,000; and Jean-François Raffaëlli’s Les courses à Jersey (ca. 1900), estimated at €50,000–€80,000.
The Lanvin family’s works will be offered alongside a rediscovered van Gogh landscape of Montmartre that has been out of the public eye for more than a century and is expected to fetch €5 million ($6 million).