Thursday, October 24, 2013

Elements of Jacques Doucet's "Oriental Cabinet" at the MFA Boston

Hello at long last dear readers.  I seem to be stuck on the subject of Jacques Doucet's collection within his studio at Neuilley-sur-Siene, but pieces from this famed interior seem to be finding themselves in the path of my various research projects.  The other day, I was searching on the greatly updated website for the Museum of Fine Arts Boston. When I concluded I opted to search "Jacques Doucet" on a lark....I am very glad I took the time.  You see, mixed within the holdings of his various fashion designs were these two lovelies that I never seen reproduced in the modern literature regarding Doucet.
Jacques Lipchitz, Carved limestone mantelpiece, ca. 1928     Image: MFA Boston
Jacques Lipchitz, Gilt bronze and iron chenets, ca. 1928    Image: MFA Boston
You see, these anthropomorphic sculptural gems were a focal point within Jacques Doucet's "Oriental Cabinet".
View of Jacques Doucet's "Oriental Cabinet" with the chenets seen just beyond Eileen Gray's "Lotus Table"  Image: L'Illustration, 30 Mai 1930
Detail of above
I never knew, until I saw them glittering on my screen, that the cubist mantelpiece and chenets had survived as they were not featured in Doucet's 1972 sale.  According to the MFA's website the works were acquired by the museum from the Parisian gallery Brame et Laurenceau in 1986.  According to Brame et Laurenceau the works were inherited by Doucet's widow, Jeanne Roger Doucet and eventually made their way into a private collection from whence the gallery acquired them.  They are presently not on view.

On a side note, it appears that another pair of chenets from Doucet's studio surfaced at the Art Deco exhibition at the Musee des Arts Decortifs Bordeaux.  This time they were sculpted by Hungarian avant garde sculptor Gustave Miklos in 1925, cast in bronze, gilded and detailed with enamel.
Gustave Miklos, one of two chenets       Image: © Mairie de Bordeaux, photo Lysiane Gauthier
These chenets were loaned to the exhibition from a private collection and I have reached out to the Museum to confirm the Doucet provenance.  Due to some of the surface wear I believe that they are indeed lot 16 from the Doucet Collection sale in 1972.
Gustave Miklos enameled and gilt bronze chenets, Collection Jacques Doucet, Hotel Drouot, 8 November 1972 lot 16 ($8500)
I await to hear the museum's input.  Until next time--AR.


  1. What a great discovery, based on knowledge and research. I worked at the MFA for a while, and know for certain that many unsuspected treasures are hidden in their storerooms.

    It is too bad that Doucet's Oriental Cabinet could not have been saved in its entirety as a period room.

    1. I agree, after Doucet died in 1929 his wife donated/sold a number of things....the remainder was placed in storage which formed the bulk of the 1972 auction...

  2. I just was just re-reading a 1973 issue of Connoisseur magazine(Robert Walker collection: Part 2) and there was an ad for Felix Marcilac's gallery where he had a large photo of the Lalique doors from the Doucet cabinet. Hopefully one day some museum will try to re-mount this amazing room.

    1. Many thanks D. Adler. I have not seen that ad. Unfortunately the panels were unmounted from the doors and sold as successive lots in 2000.

    2. D. Adler any chance you can send along the citation of the issue or a scan of the ad? Many thanks in advance...

  3. More to know more about Gustave Miklos see :

  4. I'm sure you already know, but Doucet's desk set is up for auction at Christie's Paris this spring.