Sunday, November 3, 2013

Felix Marcilhac Collection to be sold at Sotheby's Paris

Hello dear readers.  I read in the French press over the summer that renown French art historian and 20th century design dealer Felix Marcilhac would be selling his personal collection via Sotheby's.  Recently Sotheby's Paris put forth a press release with additional details but scant few images to sate my overtly visual nature.  Fortunately, I was able to take-in a preview exhibition at Sotheby's New York headquarters open now through Friday, November 8th.  Do see it be for it closes.  Here is a run down of everything on view.
Jean Michel Frank, Pair of Armchairs, circa 1938, Shagreen and Oak, €250,000-300,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Marcel Coard, Occasional Table, circa 1925, Ebony and Green tinted Shagreen, €60,000-80,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Andre Groult, Occasional Table, circa 1926, Shagreen, €100,000-120,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Paul Iribe, "Nautile" Armchair, circa 1913, Carved walnut, €150,000-200,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Detail of above  Photo: Aestheticus Rex
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Pierre Chareau, "SN1" Stool, circa 1925, Walnut, €15,000-20,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Glass vessels by Maurice Marinot
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Glass vessels by Maurice Marinot
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Glass vessels by Maurice Marinot
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Glass vessels by Maurice Marinot
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Raphael Delorme, "Repetition", circa 1925, oil on canvas,  €15,000-20,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Bernard Boutet de Monvel, "Woman", oil on canvas, €40,000-60,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Raphael Delorme, "Composition", circa 1925, oil on board, €15,000-20,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Jean Dupas, "Femme en Buste", oil on panel, €20,000-25,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Jean Dupas, "Woman in Fur", circa 1929, oil on panel, €25,000-30,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Jacques Majorelle, "Les Deux Amies", 1941, Tempera with gold and silver on paper,  €250,000-300,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Joseph Csaky, "Tete de Femme", 1924, gilt and silvered bronze on palmwood base, €60,000-80,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
Gustave Miklos, "L'Homme et Son Destin", 1929, patinated bronze on black marble base, €250,000-300,000
Image: Aestheticus Rex
The works are exquisite, and the press release reveals that the sale will have some 300 lots by top makers many with stellar provenances...including Jacques Doucet.  This point brings me to press images that were also displayed including one of the gilt bronze statue below...
Woman with Bird, gilt bronze    Image via Sotheby's
Unfortunately this image was not labeled but the model is familiar to me.  The same model was part of the collection of Jacques Doucet seen at the entrance of his "Oriental Cabinet"within his Studio at Neuilly-sur-Seine.
Jacques Doucet's "Oriental Cabinet"  Image: L'Illustration, 3 May 1930 
Detail showing sculpture   Image: L'Illustration 3 May 1930
The 3 May 1930 issue of L'Illustration attributes the sculpture to Constantin Brancusi but I always had my doubts.  A boldface name like Brancusi would have been featured in the press release....and it is not.  However, the press release does mention Ossip Zadkine and a little research led me to discover that this is indeed a Zadkine model known as "Jeune Fille a al Colombe".  I am very much hoping that it is from Doucet's collection.  The sale is not until 11 March 2014 so we will have to wait until the catalogue is issued in February.  Until next time--AR

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.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Pierre Legrain Stool with Jacques Doucet Provenance at the Brooklyn Museum?

Hello Dear Readers.  Just another quick post.  The other week I found myself attending an event at the Brooklyn Museum for the first time in many years I hate to admit.  Just beyond the lobby is a grand installation entitled "Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn".  The concept is part of a sweeping trend among Museums to get more artworks out of the storerooms and display them en mass not only to show off their holdings but also to make cross cultural connections.  It was a display case of African and African inspired furniture that stopped me in my tracks.
"Connecting Cultures: A World in Brooklyn" installation    Image: Brooklyn Museum
As I rounded the case I knew at once I was seeing an art deco masterwork by the French designer Pierre Legrain.
Pierre Legrain Stool, Ca. 1923   Image: Brooklyn Museum
The form is African in origin but is rendered in the materials of art deco luxury, namely lacquer and galuchat.  Legrain works are exceeding rare as he died in 1929.  It was for this reason I was keen to read the gallery text to find its provenance.  Unfortunately there was no listed provenance beyond the credit line "Purchased with funds given by an anonymous donor".  Fortunately the accession number "73.142" may provide some insight.  You see, accession numbers are typically a combination of the year that the object is acquired and the number of the bequest/object donated in that year.  The stool's number would suggest that it was acquired in 1973 which was was in close proximity to a major event in the nascent art deco market...that would be the groundbreaking sale of the collection of Jacques Doucet.  For background on Doucet and his awe inspiring collection see my previous post here.
Collection Jacques Doucet, Hotel Drouot, Paris 8 November 1972    Image via
The couturier Jacques Doucet died in 1929 and eventually the contents of his studio in Neuilly Sur Seine were placed in storage only to be rediscovered by his descendants decades later when the storage facility was closing down.  The subsequent sale in November of 1972 is a subject of legend in the decorative arts community and pieces ended up in the best collections and museums across the globe.  Unfortunately, I do not have a copy of the sale catalogue at my fingertips or else I would settle this mystery in mere moments...therefore, we are left to consult the period images of the studio.
View of Doucet's Studio at Neuilly-sur-Seine, circa 1930     Image: L'Illustration, No.  4845
In the image above a very similar stool to the one at the Brooklyn museum can be seen just to the left of the monumental Lalique door.
Detail of stool in Doucet's Studio    Image: L'Illustration, No. 4845
The seat is of the same shape and proportion as is the rectangular stepped base, but the legs appear to be comprised of four posts and not faceted columns.  Its also hard to tell if there is a cream central support.  This lack of detail may be due to the period method of tinting these images or it may in-fact not be the same Legrain stool.  Thankfully, the Centre Pompidou's catalogue for their recent Eileen Gray exhibition published another view of the Studio that I had never seen before.
Studio Jacques Doucet Neuilly-sur-Seine    Image: Institut national d'histoire de l'art
Detail of Legrain Stool in Doucet's Studio     Image: Institut national d'histoire de l'art
If the Brooklyn Museum's stool is from Doucet's fabled studio, this appears to be an image of it in-situ.  It is of the same overall shape, possesses the central cream support, and you can make out the collars on the four faceted legs as they catch the light.  I need to consult a copy of Doucet's sale to be sure, but if I were a gambling man I would suspect that this is indeed the example now in the collection of the Brooklyn Museum....I will provide updates as the truth emerges.

On a side note, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has an African inspired Legrain stool that was purchased from the 1972 Doucet sale.  It was on view a few years back, but alas is now safely in storage.

Pierre Legrain carved rosewood stool for Jacques Doucet, ca. 1925   Image:
This stool borrows its form from an African headrest but is of the proportion of a low stool.  The sister to this stool was sold from the outstanding Dray Collection presented at Christie's Paris in 2006.  It achieved the tidy sum of $660,066.
Pierre Legrain carved hardwood stool for Jeanne Tachard, Circa 1925.   Image: Christie's
The Christie's catalogue notes that while Legrain's works for his top clients were generally unique pieces it is believed that since Jacques Doucet and Jeanne Tachard were close friends some exceptions could be made.  The Yves Saint Laurent sale at Christie's in 2009 yielded yet another rare stool by Legrain.  This stool can be traced directly to Jacques Doucet as it was lot 43 in the 1972 sale of his collection.
Legrain carved hardwood stool for Jacques Doucet, ca. 1925   Image: Christie's
I have always loved this particular example.  It is overtly African in inspiration but the supports to me also skew into the arena of the machine age becoming stylized gears.  Christie's sold this work for $589,130.

As a final aside, I am pleased that more period images of Doucet's collection are coming to light.  As reader's of this blog know I love seeing works as they were presented in their original context.  This recently published image is no exception as it clearly shows two "old friends" that I have marveled at for years.
Studio Jacques Doucet Neuilly-sur-Seine    Image: Institut national d'histoire de l'art
At the immediate left you can see two figures from Eileen Gray's screen "Le Destin".  The work dates to 1914 and was one of the first Gray pieces that Doucet acquired.  It resurfaced in his 1972 sale where it achieved $36,000.  It presently resides in a private collection.
Doucet's Studio detail showing Gray's "Le Destin"   Image: Institut national d'histoire de l'art
Eileen Gray's "Le Destin" lacquered wood screen, ca. 1914    Image via
Another work visible in the image of the studio is a bit hard to make-out but is well know today as it resides in the Musee des Arts Decoratifs, Paris.
Detail of Doucet's Studio showing the Legrain side cabinet at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs  
Image: Institut national d'histoire de l'art
It is a bit hazy but if you know the work it becomes clear.  I shot a few images of this piece when I was last in Paris.
Pierre Legrain & Gustave Miklos side cabinet, ca. 1923   Image: Aestheticus Rex
Detail of the Gustav Miklos silvered and enameled panel.  Image: Aestheticus Rex
In the period photo you can just pick out the graphic nature of the stylized African panel by Gustave Miklos.  It is all very exciting.  I am trying to get my hands of a copy of the 1972 Doucet sale as we speak.  Updates to follow.  Until next time...--AR.

Well in the days since penning this post I have discovered that a stool of the same exact model as the one at the Brooklyn Museum is in the possession of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Pierre Legrain Stool, ca. 1923       Image: © Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
It is part of the Sidney and Frances Lewis bequest and the listed provenance is none other than Jacques Doucet.  I am very curious to know if there was a pair made for Doucet, or if the example at the Brooklyn Museum was made for another client.  I should have my hands on a copy of the Doucet sale in a few days...details to follow.

Well the mystery has been solved on two fronts.  I was able to find a copy of the Doucet auction and there was only one stool of this design offered, lot 33.  This would mean that Doucet's Legrain stool is definitely the example in the collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.
Jacques Doucet's Legrain stool, Hotel Drouot, Paris, 8 November 1972, lot 33 ($4300)
The Brooklyn Museum also confirmed that theirs was indeed not from the Doucet sale but was actually acquired from an Italian collection and it was originally made for the de Crespi family with whom Legrain designed textiles.  Examples of this collaboration were evidently shown at the 1925 Exposition in Paris and recall his work in luxury bookbinding.
Pierre Legrain textile designs for Benigno Crespi, ca. 1925   Image via Flickr
Until next time.--AR

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Jan Juta's "Pegasus" Window To Be Restored

Hello Dear Readers.  Just a quick post as I have come across a bit of interesting news.  It seems that at long last the British art deco jewel New Filton House is presently being restored.   The structure also known as "Pegasus House" was designed in 1936 by Whinney, Son and Austen Hall as offices for the Bristol Aeroplane Company.
New Filton House  circa 1953           Image via
The rather stark yet sleek exterior was embellished with a relief of the Bristol 142 "Britain First" airplane high above a freestanding figure of Pegasus both by sculptor Denis Dunlop.
Bas relief of the Bristol 142 by Denis Dunlop    Image: Linda Bailey via WikiCommons 
Sculpture of Pegasus by Denis Dunlop     Image: John Honniball via Flickr
Now dear readers, I first became aware of this structure many years ago doing research on the art deco muralist and glass artist Jan Juta.  You can find a previous post about him here.  The main staircase of New Filton House possesses a multi-story stained glass window depicting the history of the Bristol company executed by none other than Juta himself.  I have only ever seen small crops of the window in the past which thankfully is undergoing a complete restoration this summer by the Creative Glass Works in Bristol.
Image of the window featuring Pegasus   Image via
Detail of Mercury   Image via
Detail of window    Image via
Detail of Pegasus     Image via
You see dear readers, the offices were vacated over two decades ago and the structure as well as its decor fell into disrepair becoming the realm of squatters and urban explorers.  Haunting images of the decay can be found here.  It has been reported that some of the panes were damaged or otherwise broken.  As noted above, my previous research caused me to stumble across a design drawing for the staircase window.
"Pegasus" Window design drawing by Jan Juta    Image: Aestheticus Rex
Detail of Juta's Design     Image: Aestheticus Rex 
Detail of Juta's Design    Image: Aestheticus Rex 
Detail of Juta's Design   Image: Aestheticus Rex
This is all terribly exciting to say the least.  To know that something feared lost to neglect is being saved at long last is always reassuring.  I have reached out to the Creative Glass Works to obtain an update on their progress.  I hope to post images of the completed work and details of the restoration as they come to light.  Until next time...--AR

While I was cross posting around Facebook I located the page of the Creative Glass Works.  It seems that the window restoration is nearly complete.  I await their response but leave you with their images of the work in progress...
Detail of Mercury from the Pegasus Window by Jan Juta   Image: Creative Glass Works
Detail of restored Pegasus from the Jan Juta Window   Image: Creative Glass Works
Image of Creative Glass Works team at work    Image: Creative Glass Works