HENRI CHWAST & SOTHEBY’S: UNVEILING A 30 YEARS’ OLD COLLECTION of ART DECO MASTERPIECES
Amongst the Art deco sales of the last half century, the 1972 sale at Christie’s of couturier Jacques Doucet’s possessions is to this date of the most fabled. The Yves Saint Laurent – Pierre Bergé sale of 2009 at Christie’s was equally historic as it reached 373,935,500 euros with Eileen Gray’s ‘Fauteuil aux Dragons’ reaching an incredible 21,905,000 euros. Then in March 2014 the Felix Marcilhac sale came along courtesy of Sotheby’s and sent A-Gent of Style in a state of stratospheric elation with its ravishing museum-quality masterpieces (and an unforgettable cover feature from The World of Interiors).
And a week ago, without much fanfare, Henri Chwast came into A-Gent of Style’s life. Unbeknownst to him, Henri Chwast was the creator of the first “concept” fashion shop in Paris, Mérédith, which he opened with his wife Anne-Marie on the Rue de Passy in 1961, offering pieces of a select group of international designers. But Chwast was also a collecting pioneer who, in the early 1970s, rediscovered and championed many artworks of the 1920s, from artists and designers such as Eileen Gray and Jean Dunand. A secret collector, known only to several big Parisian dealers, he died almost 25 years ago, leaving intact his compact collection consisting of about sixty masterpieces created by a small number of first-rate artists including Clément Rousseau, Pierre Chareau and Bernard Boutet de Monel.
Today, Sotheby’s Paris will be unveiling this tastemaker’s remarkable collection of hidden treasures kept away for thirty years, now appearing on the market for the first time and remaining decidedly modern. The works, carefully chosen for their exceptional quality, make up a perfectly consistent ensemble of rare and precious group of 46 lots, expected to reach between 3-5 million euros. Their rarity, prestigious provenance and the dialogue created between them establish it as one of those truly legendary Art Deco collections. These pieces have been through the hands of the movement’s greatest advocates: the legendary Art Deco Galerie du Luxembourg, Félix Marcilhac, Alain Lesieutre, Maria de Beyrie, Bob and Cheska Vallois and Karl Lagerfeld.
During the 1970’s, Henri Chwast started collecting works of the 1920’s period after being introduced to the glories of Art Deco at the 1972 Jacques Doucet sale. Patiently and meticulously, he acquired iconic works by the major artists of Art Deco, mainly Dunand, Gray, Rousseau and Chareau. This connoisseur with a highly specific taste limited his collection to a small number of works, focusing on the crucial, the ground-breaking and the unique. The selection constituted by Henri Chwast’s discerning eye is a perfect illustration of aesthetic explorations during the 1920’s: a mix of luxury and modernity. Through his choices, Chwast established himself as a trail-blazer who, in the 1970’s, fully realised the importance of creations from this period, and sought to capture their essence.
This collection, housed for three decades in a family environment reflecting the collector’s discreet personality, is striking for the majestic quality of each work. It also provides an overview of the founding figures of Art Deco including some of the most active patrons of their time such as Madame Agnès (a customer, collector and close friend of Jean Dunand), Madame Labourdette (wife of the famous coach builder Jean-Henri Labourdette) and the Maharajah of Indore (a prominent figure in the 1920’s artistic milieu).
Time will tell but this collection, though rather small, has all the ingredients to become a truly legendary ensemble that will be remembered as one of the most iconic sales of Art Deco.
You can see the full catalogue here
And a short video:
Below, A-Gent of Style‘s selection from the catalogue:
JEAN DUNAND – unique eggshell and lacquered wood fire surround, 1926 / 200,000-300,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘LP 180’ or ‘Masque’ alabaster and iron table lamp, c.1922-23 / 20,000-30,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – Madame Agnès, unique lacquer, eggshell, ivory and silver leaves panel, 1926 / 112,000-167,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – SN31 also called ‘La Religieuse’ (as it looks like a nun’s wimple), a mahogany, alabaster and metal floor lamp, c.1928 / 300,000-500,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – Macassar, ebony and kingwood veneer, oak, shagreen, mother-of-pearl, ivory and silvered metal chest, c.1925 / 245,000-356,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘MB405’ and ‘SN3’ a Rio rosewood and iron desk and stool, c.1926-1927 / 200,000-300,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a six panel lacquered wood and eggshell folding screen, c.1925 / 100,000-150,000 euros
PAULE LELEU – a wool carpet, c.1950 / 2,000-3,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a lacquered wood armchair, c.1924 / 80,000-120,000 euros
Deux Figures a Genoux, a lacquered panel, 1929 / 80,000-120,000 euros
‘Nu de dos’, a lacquered panel heightened with gold and silver’, 1929 / 60,000-80,000 euros
PIERRE CHAREAU – ‘LA 254’ a pair of iron and alabaster wall sconces, c.1925 / 30,000-50,000 euros
CARLO BUGATTI, ‘Cobra’ a pair of partially painted vellum and metal chairs, 1902 / 100,000-150,000 euros
PIERRE PATOUT – a stained mahogany and bronze armchair, c.1934 / 3,000-5,000 euros
DIM (Decoration Interieure Moderne) – a Rio rosewood and burr Rio rosewood veneered cabinet, 1925 / 3,000-3,350 euros
TAMARA DE LEMPICKA – ‘Nu Feminin’, a pencil on paper / 8,000-12,000 euros
EILEEN GRAY – a unique pine and lacquer vase, c.1920 / 250,000-350,000 euros
ARISTIDE MICHEL COLOTTE – a crystal bowl, c.1930 / 1,500-2,000 euros
RAOUL LAMOURDEDIEU – a patinated and silvered bronze, onyx, glass and metal floor lamp, c.1925 / 7,000-10,000 euros
JEAN GOULDEN – a silver, glass and enamel table lamp, 1926 / 80,000-120,000 euros
MAURICE JALLOT – a macassar, ebony veneer, oak, shagreen and ivory cabinet, c.1927 / 20,100-27,900 euros
JOSEPH CSAKY – ‘Jeune Fille’ a patinated bronze sculpture, 1964 – 4,000-6,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – occasional table, c.1925 / 78,000-100,000 euros
JEAN DUNAND – a lacquered metal and eggshell vase, c.190 / 70,000-100,000 euros
CLEMENT ROUSSEAU – Three rosewood veneer, shagreen and ivory occasional tables, c.1920-25 / 78,000-112,000 euros
EILEEN GRAY – ebonised oak, sycamore, glass top, ivory handles table-desk, 1919-1922 / 220,000-320,000 euros
BERNARD BOUTET DE MOVEL – S.A.R Le Maharadjah d’Indore, an oil on canvas / 200,000-300,000 euros
Bernard Boutet de Monvel
Madame Agnès’s showroom, 1927
– All images courtesy of Sotheby’s –