|Duchess de Alba's Bathroom, Liria Palace, Madrid circa 1922 Image via Musee Des Arts Decoratifs, Paris|
|Liria Place, Madrid: Plan of first floor with the Duchess' suite highlighted in white. Image via Christie's (Fonds Rateau)|
We now know that this fabled suite of rooms had a rather short shelf-life. The Duchess died 11 January 1934 of tuberculosis and the Liria Palace itself was greatly destroyed during the tumultuous Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). According to the catalogue essay, in advance of the looming revolution, many of the palace treasures and furnishings were safeguarded at either the British Embassy or the Banco de Espana. So now the mystery is solved, The Rateau interiors enjoyed a mere decade of completeness before the tides of war sealed their fate. Now, onto the surviving artworks themselves.
We know the floor lamps "aux oiseau" as this image was included with the press release for this sale issued in February. The lamps are being offered individually each at an estimate of €1,500,000-2,000,000. They are two from the four that were originally installed in the bathroom.
|Alba commission Rateau torcheres Image via Christie's|
|Alba commission low table "aux oiseau" Image via Christie's|
|Alba commission Rateau low table "aux oiseau" shown in situ Image via Musee des Arts Decoratifs|
|Alba commission Rateau adjustable daybed Image via Christie's|
|Alba commission Rateau adjustable daybed shown in-situ Image via Musee des Arts Decoratifs|
|Detail of daybed Image via Christie's|
Now onto the dressing table. It appears that over the years of movement and storage that the original top and bronze-mounted mirror superstructure have been lost.
|Alba commission Rateau dressing table Image via Christie's|
|Alba commission Rateau dressing table in its original configuration shown in-situ Image via Musee des Arts Decoratifs|
|Detail of dressing table showing original bronze mounted mirror Image via Musee des Arts Decoratifs|
|Alba commission Rateau Canape aux Cols Cygnes Image via Christie's|
|Alba commission Rateau Canape aux Cols Cygnes shown in-situ with original seatrail decoration Image via Musee des Arts Decoratifs|
The rosettes at either end of the seatrail appear to be in low-relief in the period photo as well. I will be intriguing to read the condition report for this lot to see what was needed to make it presentable for the auction. That said, the estimate seems right at €200,000-300,000. Not conservative given the condition, but that will likely not matter given the provenance.
|Alba commission Rateau marble bathtub Image via Christie's|
|Alba commission Rateau bathtub shown in-situ Image via Musee des Arts Decoratifs|
|Detail of carved marble tub showing the infilled holes from the bronze taps Image via Christie's|
|Detail showing original bronze taps from the Alba commission Image via Musee des Arts Decoratifs|
The arrangement of birds and floral motifs are in keeping with the rest of the room's decorative scheme. The same arrangement of bird faucets and stopper were utilized in the bathroom of Jeanne Lanvin as well.
|Rateau bronze bath fixtures from Jeanne Lanvin's Bathroom Image via Musee des Arts Decoratifs|
Stay tuned for updates from the design sales in paris later this month!--AR.