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A WENGE AND IRON TABLE WITH ELEVEN UPHOLSTERED PALISSANDRE CHAIRS, 1927**
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About the item

PIERRE CHAREAU (1883-1950)\nA Wenge and Iron Table with Eleven Upholstered Palissandre Chairs, 1927**\ntable: 28 7/8 in. (73.4 cm.) high, 94¼ in. (239.5 cm.) wide, 45 1/8 in. (114.6 cm.) deep; chair: 37½ in. (95.2 cm.) high (12)
US
NY, US
US

notes

This magnificent dining table with its set of chairs and matching sideboard (see following lot) is a unique and exemplary work from one of Pierre Chareau's most important commissions.

Paris, 1927, and two years have passed since the historic Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes. The exhibition marked the high point of the French Art Deco style, celebrating a grand, decorative mode in interior and object design and demonstrating with great pride the high standards of craftsmanship with which Parisian artisans had been so strongly associated since the 18th century. Le Corbusier's Pavillon de L'Esprit Nouveau presented a different vision - sophisticated, austere, functionalist, Utopian - more in line with the Modernist ideas that were fast developing in Germany and the Netherlands. Le Corbusier's radical concept marked a distinct turning point in the applied arts in France, heralding the experiments in architecture and design of a new generation of artists with a dynamic agenda.

Foremost among them was Pierre Chareau, who had already made his mark as a furniture designer and interior architect by this date. Born in 1883, he had studied architecture and interior design and worked in the Paris office of the British decorating firm of Waring & Gillow, exhibiting projects under his own name as early as 1907. Conscripted during the First World War, he resumed his career independently in 1919 and found his first private clients. Chareau's name rapidly became associated with furniture and settings that were unadorned, their appeal lying in their inventive and faultless proportions, while the rich woods he favored gave a sense of luxury. His impressive bureau-bibliothèque for a French Embassy presented at the Exposition Internationale in 1925 characterized this first phase of his career.

1927 saw a change of direction. This was the year in which he initiated his most important architectural project, the Maison de Verre, a historic Modernist statement in steel and glass, completed in 1931. And it was the year in which he created the present dining room within another crucial project. This suite, remarkable for its bold use of bare iron supports that resemble sections of girder rather than any conventional furniture legs, makes a powerful statement about the potential alliance of architecture, engineering and furniture design. It was conceived for the Paris residence of the Reifenberg family, a villa planned by Modernist architect Robert Mallet-Stevens for 4-6 rue Mallet-Stevens. Chareau was invited to collaborate and made a major contribution to the interior schemes for this project, most notably his rigorous but luxurious concept for the dining room. Here he created shallow, asymmetrical stepped sections to ceiling and wall that concealed a diffused lighting scheme and echoed the simple geometry of the furniture. His choice of a rich wenge wood and a striped palissander brought warmth and opulence to the formal simplicity of the scheme. The perfect balance of restraint and sophistication that he achieved in this room in the harmony of functionalist yet sumptuous furniture and architectural setting set a standard for the development of Modernist ideas in France.

Pierre Chareau had proved his stature in this new style. The Reifenberg dining room was instrumental in establishing his credentials and emphatically situated him as a Modernist. He became a key figure within the Union des Artistes Modernes, the association, generally known as the UAM, established in 1929 to promote this new direction in design.

title

A WENGE AND IRON TABLE WITH ELEVEN UPHOLSTERED PALISSANDRE CHAIRS, 1927**

prelot

PROPERTY FROM A PRIVATE COLLECTION OF MAGNIFICENT FRENCH ART DECO

Dining room at Madame Reinfenberg's apartment on the rue Robert Mallet-Stevens, Paris, circa 1927

Dining room at Madame Reinfenberg's apartment on the rue Robert Mallet-Stevens, Paris, circa 1927

Dining room at Madame Reinfenberg's apartment on the rue Robert Mallet-Stevens, Paris, circa 1927

creator

PIERRE CHAREAU

department

20/21 Design

dimensions

table: 28 7/8 in. (73.4 cm.) high, 94¼ in. (239.5 cm.) wide, 45 1/8 in. (114.6 cm.) deep; chair: 37½ in. (95.2 cm.) high (12)

literature

O. Cinqualbre, Pierre Chareau Architect, un Art Intérieur, exhibition catalogue, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1993, pp. 188- 189 for a period photograph and for a detailed analysis of the Reifenberg project.

R. Herbst, Pierre Chareau, Paris, 1954, p. 69 for an alternative period photograph of the dining suite in situ. The caption erroneously describes the wood as amboyna and gives a date of 1930.

provenance

Sotheby's, Monte Carlo, 19 October 1986, lot 301.

Private collection, United States.

With DeLorenzo Gallery, New York.

Private collection, California, since 1994.


*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.

*Note: The price is not recalculated to the current value. It refers to the actual final price at the time the item was sold.


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