Estimated at $150,000-200,000 by Rago Auctions of Lambertville, New Jersey, it was bought in the room as three serious bidders competed for the lamp. The underbidder was a private collector on the phone.
The lamp was an early 20th century French design inspired by the allium flower. It measured 5ft 10in (1.78m) high and was signed Gallé to the shade. It was made from acid-etched, wheel-polished and blown glass and patinated metal, and had three sockets.
Gallé (1846-1904), a trailblazer of the Art Nouveau movement, was a co-founder of École de Nancy (The Nancy School) in north east France and was renowned for his designs in French art glass and his distinctive sinuous marquetry-inlaid furniture.
Auction house partner David Rago said: “Our understanding is that this is the only such example known. It had previously been exhibited at the Richmond Museum of Art in Richmond, Virginia (we were furnished with a photo of the lamp on display there). I can’t say with certainty that another wasn’t made, but no one I spoke with was aware of another either produced or otherwise in existence.”
The lamp was owned from the late Raymond Toupenet, a renowned French dealer. “Many such high end objects had passed through his hands,” Rago added.
The auction took place on October 15.