It had been estimated at £1.5-2.5m and drew five phone bidders from the US and Europe at Christie’s 20th/21st Century London Evening sale on February 28. With fees added, the price was £2.9m.
The chandelier had originally been commissioned by the art patron and collector Peter Watson. Watson bankrolled the literary magazine Horizon that was founded with critic Cyril Connolly in 1939. It went on to publish work by celebrated authors WH Auden, George Orwell, EM Forster and Dylan Thomas.
The chandelier, made by Alberto Giacometti (1901-66) sometime between 1946-47, hung in Horizon’s Bloomsbury offices until the venture closed in 1950. It later ended up in the antiques shop of Elizabeth Denton in Marylebone but without attribution.
Craxton (1922-2009) purchased the artwork from the shop in the late 1960s for just £250, using all his savings to do so. He hung it in his family’s Hampstead home where it remained until his death in 2009.
It was only in 2021, after his death, that it was confirmed to be by Giacometti following verification by the Fondation Giacometti in Paris.
Although Giacometti is known for his sculpture, he often worked on decorative objects such as lamps, vases and chandeliers like this. The style of the piece harks back to the art he made during his association with the Surrealist movement, well before he made this piece in the 1940s.
It features a suspended ball which is similar to his famous surrealist sculpture La Boule suspendue.