Maurice Picauld (Pico)
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Maurice Picaud (Pico)

Maurice and Plaque?

Is this Maurice Picaud with a plaque? Yes, now confirmed.

This page has been produced for all those people who email me for information regarding Pico Plaques. I have no specific and guaranteed information on these plaques, except that the original plaque, which is a huge concrete version above the Folies Bergeres building in Paris was designed by Maurice Picaud (Pico) - that much I can confirm is true. He was a French architect, interior designer and one time designer for Ruhlmann furniture who created the dancing lady facade over the entrance to the Folies Bergeres building in Paris in 1926. The facade depicts the dancer Lila Nikolska, who posed for the sculpture. Pico's name appears in the Follies Bergeres official website, and a comprehensive account of this decoration can be found in the book by Gilles Neret - The Arts of the 20s, plate 13. From there on it gets a little fuzzy! There are currently 2 differing accounts on how the plaques were made, and neither are confirmed.

Maurice and Plaque? Maurice and Plaque?
Which one - if either - of these dancers is Lila Nikolska? Both are shown dancing the pose of the pico plaques


Some smaller versions of the original exterior facade were carved in wood and placed inside the theatre foyer. Theory one is that at sometime during the 1920s-1930s a mould was taken from one of these smaller panels and the plaques were then reproduced as plaster (gesso) casts. These were then offered for sale to VIPs or regular patrons of the Follies.

Theory two is that on the death of Maurice Picaud, these panels were given to members of his family as commemorative plaques, it is however, possible that both of these theories have some substance - some being sold to patrons, and the remainder were given to the family. It is unknown how many were produced, I would guess in their hundreds, rather than in their thousands.

Folies1928

The Folies photographed in 1928

They very rarely appear in auctions, but when they do they all appear exactly the same, with the same wood frames and some with title plaques and some without. We have seen these plaques in varying conditions, from those that appear to have been re-gilded and therefore in as-new condition, and some that appear to still have their original gilding (gold leaf) which is now flaking. When these plaques have appeared for sale, they have sold for exorbitant amounts. I know of one that was sold by a top London dealer for £7000, another was sold at Christies in April 2002. Christies estimate was £2000-£3000, the hammer price was £6,627. One was sold on Ebay, October 2003 for £3736 and I have seen others that have made around £3500.

I recently received a phone call from a gentleman in Germany who has the original Rulhmann Furniture Company book from the 1920s-1930s. Inside was a picture of the staff members and at the end of the line-up was Maurice Picaud. It has been confirmed that this was the same man as is shown above on the stage holding the plaque.


Facade

The Folies facade in detail

This information is just some of the information that I have gathered over the years, and I will be updating this page from time to time when new information becomes available. Any further information regarding Maurice Picaud or the Plaques would be much appreciated.


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