Treasures: Moreau lamp is likely a statement piece from the 1960s


Dear Helaine and Joe:

While reading an article in the MetroWest Daily News, I realized that I own an August Moreau lamp titled “Innocents.” I would appreciate more information about the piece.

Thank you,

M. G.:

Dear M. G.:

Actually, we would like a little more information too. We do not know how big the lamp is, or how it is signed and where. We do not know how M. G. found the title of this work. But we have our suspicions.

Twelve years ago, a reader wrote to inquire about her Auguste Moreau lamp, which was 47 inches high from base to the top of the shade and weighed in at a respectable 34 pounds. She also reported a label on her example, “TL-1005 Moreau Innocents An Authentic Reproduction of an original French Bronze by Moreau c.1825.”

This is incorrect on one major point. There were a number of Moreau family members who were sculptors, such as the father, Jean-Baptiste Moreau, and his three sons, Hippolyte, Mathurin and Auguste. This particular piece was initially created by Alphonse Moreau, who was born in Paris in 1834 and died in 1917, making the 1825 date impossible.

The reproduction in today’s question was probably made in the 1960s, and we doubt that it was made from solid bronze. We suspect the material may well be bronze plated over white metal. Looking at the color we are reminded of the baby shoes that countless doting mothers sent off to be bronzed for posterity during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.

We should also mention the piece has several titles other than “Innocents” or “The Innocents.” The image is of a young boy whispering in the ear of a young girl, and the piece is sometimes called “The Secret,” “Whispering Children” or “A Confidence.”

In our original article, we discussed the notion that most people who bought lamps wanted a pair and that single lamps are not desirable items in the current marketplace. But as we revisit this subject, it occurs to us that this Moreau lamp is from the 1960s and was probably intended to be a statement piece that stood apart as a focal point in a room.

The second time around, we are hit by how this may have been a piece that was meant to stand alone. It may very well have been viewed as an updated sculpture that also provided its own spotlight. Alphonse Moreau was very much a proponent of the art nouveau style, but this “authentic reproduction” introduces varying colors and textures to the piece Moreau never envisioned.

The piece implies a certain amount of sexuality (oh, those 1960s!). The piece has become a little too French rococo, but this just makes it more interesting in a way. For insurance replacement, value this lamp in the $400 to $500 range.

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