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 –
Kaiser designer Karl Lagerfeld transformed during Paris Fashion Week 2014 Paris’ Le Grand Palais into the most amazing giant supermarket to debut Chanel’s womenswear collection show attended by well-heeled celebrities such as pop star Rihanna and model Cara Delevingne who gladly partook in the fanciful supermarket sweep. The flamboyant aisles were replete with 500-odd Chanel-branded products in packaging designed specially for the show with over 100,000 mocked-up items on the shelves such as condiments, pastas, oils and vinegars, cheeses, charcuterie, brooms, dusters, fruits, vegetables, breads, alcohol, mops and more all stamped with the iconic luxury brand logo.
Complete and utter genius if you ask A-Gent of Style.
After the show was over, a tannoy announcement came out: “Dear valued customer, the Chanel store is closing. Please pick up complimentary fruit and vegetables as you leave”, which prompted a supermarket sweep as audience members pillaged and looted the shelves. Editors pounced on the non-perishable items with the Mademoiselle Privé doormats being the number one prized item to go first. Some of you might have seen some of the brilliant Instagram photos and videos by Anna Dello Russo
Oh and the clothes? Candy-coloured tweed suiting came layered over purple glittery tops and metallic jeans. Elsewhere, tissue-thin leather tracksuit trousers were partnered up with sporty quilted cropped jackets, all set off with sneakers – some extending to boots – padlock necklaces or multi-strand pearls and full ponytails streaming in tweed rags.
“I wanted to show the ease of the clothes, the way they walk in those shoes, the modern approach even to luxury”, professed Kaiser Karl. “Luxury should not be something like this, confined to a limited thing, that if you are lucky enough that you can buy those things, buy them, but don’t wear them to show people how rich you are. The big thing in Chanel is that we can play with everything and do whatever we want. Nobody tells us what to do, we are totally free. Which is nice.”
Who said food-shopping shouldn’t be glamourous and that you couldn’t wear your sunnies in a superstore!? After seeing these images, even going to Waitrose will seem utterly dire.
Today’s post, the first of a few exciting projects and events
A-Gent of Style will be involved in at the beginning of this year, is about Art Deco. The French Art Deco. The high-end kind of Art Deco. The iconic kind of Art Deco.
So, as some of you might have surmised by now, working on this topic has sent A-Gent of Style, a self-confessed Art Deco fan-atic, in a state of stratospheric exaltation and elation in the last few days. Actually, it all started around a month ago, back in December last year, when the January issue of World of Interiors came through the door. The tantalising cover was the promising sign its readers were in for something very special – if you like Art Deco, of course.
The distinguished British interior design magazine featured over eight delectable pages the spectacular interiors of a home replete with some of the most iconic and sought-after masterpieces of 20th C Decorative Arts, mostly Art Deco, collected by one single man over his life and remarkable career.
Sotheby’s, in association with Artcurial, has the privilege to present and sell the private collection of the illustrious French dealer, expert valuer, art historian,
Art Nouveau and Art Deco pioneer Félix Marcilhac which will be go under the hammer on 11 and 12 March 2014 at Sotheby’s Paris. This spectacular sale,
Félix Marcilhac Collection Privée, with its accompanying exhibition, represents therefore the distillation of this highly respected connoisseur‘s personal and museum-quality collection he and his family lived with over a few decades in the very same house featured in The World of Interiors.
To complement what will most probably be a seminal sale in the history of
20th C Decorative Arts, a visiting exhibition of selected but important pieces has been touring the world, first in New York and then Hong Kong at the end of last year, and has now arrived in London at Sotheby’s, New Bond Street, running
until 21 January before it reaches its final destination in Paris, first at Artcurial and then at Sotheby, Faubourg Saint-Honoré. The entire collection – more than
300 lots dating back to 1900 up to 1935 – will be on show there 3-11 March culminating on the much-anticipated auction on 11-12 March.
A-Gent of style is privileged and ecstatic to have collaborated with the wonderfully helpful and passionate team at Sotheby’s London on reviewing and publicising the beautifully curated exhibition and actual sale, and to have been given a private tour of the collection on Tuesday morning as the exhibition opened to the public.
This unique collection, amassed over the course of more than forty years, features a series of Art Deco masterpieces not seen in public for decades boasting a provenance of illustrious names such as Vicomtesse Marie-Laure de Noailles, Elsa Schiaparelli, Jeanne Lanvin, Paul Cocteau and Jean-Michel Frank. The ensemble regroups pieces from illustrious artists such as Frank himself, Pierre Legrain,
Pierre Chareau, Jean Dunand, Jean Goulden, Paul Iribe, Marcel Coard, Emile Gallé, Gustave Miklos, Edouard-Marcel Sandoz, Josef Csaky,
Ossip Zadkine, François-Louis Schmied and Jacques Majorelle – which altogether sounds like calling illustrious 20th C designers on the red carpet – all of whom worked with luxurious materials such as parchment, vellum, shagreen, lacquer, mother-of-pearl, rosewood, bronze and eggshell.
Félix Marcilhac has enjoyed an exceptional career and has gained a worldwide reputation as one of the world’s top dealers and experts in the field of
20th C Decorative Arts and, having devoted much of his activity to writing and research, stands out for his academic background and art historian’s approach.
He has written a host of authoritative reference works on inter-war painters, sculptors and architect-decorators including René Lalique, Edouard Sandoz,
Chana Orloff, Joseph Csaky, Gustave Miklos, Jean Dunand, Paul Jouve,
Jacques Majorelle, André Groult and the design firm Dominique, which monographs contributed to the rediscovery of many of them.
Marcilhac’s passion for 20 th C Decorative Arts began when he bought a sculpture by Gustave Miklos in Paris in 1967. Two years later he opened his namesake gallery at 8 rue Bonaparte in Paris now run by his son, Félix-Félix Marcilhac. He has worked as an advisor to the most important collectors of the genre and also organised the sales of a number of high-profile private collections, including those of Karl Lagerfeld in 1975, Marcel Tessier (devoted to Art Nouveau) in 1978, Madeleine Vionnet in 1985 and Nouran Manoukian in 1993. His clients have included Hélène Rochas,
Yves Saint-Laurent, Pierre Bergé, Andy Warhol, Catherine Deneuve and Alain Delon along with prominent French public figures and many private clients.
Now, 71, the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur Marcilhac, is retiring to Marrakesh and, eager to downsize, has “decided that he would sell his treasures during his lifetime in order that he could share the passion which has motivated him throughout his life and also to pay homage to the people and the time which has so captivated him” explains Cécile Verdier, Senior Director Europe and Head of Department
20th C Decorative Arts & Design. Discover the highlights of the exhibition here in a video with Madame Verdier.
The World of Interiors special feature was therefore the last time these masterpieces were seen together in situ before the dissipation of the sale.
A lacquered and eggshell desk by Jean Dunand and Jean Goulden with a rock crystal and obsidian sculpture ‘Paon’ by Joseph Csaky (€60-80,000) next to a unique cubic armchair ‘Fauteuil Cubique’ (c.1920) in rosewood, vellum and mother-of-pearl by Marcel Coard (€200-250,000) and ‘Chaizch Endormi’,
a painting by François-Louis Schmied (1937) (€40-50,000).
A gold leaf and brown painted plaster sculpture ‘Jeune Fille à la Colombe’ (1928) by Ossip Zadkine (€150-200,000) and on the table in the middle of the room a statue, ‘Femme’ (1926) by Gustave Miklos that belonged to Jeanne Lanvin. This very objet played a central role and became a benchmark in the collection as this was the first important piece Marcilhac bought which inspired him to become a collector and subsequently a dealer. In front of the pair of curved, lacquered doors with two oriental women, possibly by Jean Dunand, that lead onto the private study, you can just about see the Pierre Legrain console table (c.1924) in perforated nickel and plated brass with a glass top (€100-120,000).
Two iconic armchairs (c.1928) by Jean-Michel Frank upholstered in shagreen and made of oak with seats covered in a vibrant green velvet (€250-300,000),
an Orientalist painting by Marcelle Ackhein from around 1935, a serpentine fire surround by Eugène Gaillard, a sculpture by Etienne Béothy on top of the plinth and a unique black and gilt patinated bronze ‘Lampadaire Deux Serpents’ floor lamp (1931) by Edouard-Marcel Sandoz (€100-120,000).
Clockwise from top left: a gypsum chest of drawers by Jean-Michel Frank,
a Rose Adler notebook on top of a drawing by Christian Bérard and a music sheet by Francis Poulenc, a table by Marcel Coard with a parchment top above an
Ernest Boiceau carpet, and finally a drawing by Etienne Béothy, photos of interiors by Jean-Michel Frank and a shagreen notebook.
The study’s rosewood bookcase was designed by Jacques Grange. The geometric rug in wool (1927) is by Jean Dunand (€40-60,000) and the desk by Pierre Chareau dating from the seminal 1925 ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes’ in Paris. The lacquered doors, leading to the aforementioned study, with the stylised landscape is probably too by Dunand .
A beautiful collection of perfume bottles (some with stoppers) by Maurice Marinot from 1928 in various shapes and colours, made of clear glass and internally decorated, some with bubbling (€6-10,000).
The timeless Paul Iribe ‘Nautile’ tub-shaped armchair from 1913 with oversized carved scrolls, a low seat and a high back in walnut covered in a leopard print fabric reminiscent of Madeleine Castaing (€150-200,000). And an Orientalist painting
‘Le Vanneur’ (1936) by François Louis Schmied (€60-80,000).
Bought in 1980 in Boulogne-Billancourt, the chic Art Deco district in west Paris,
this private repository was only accessible to Marcilhac family’s and close relations, and was designed over the years by his long-standing friend, the renowned
French interior decorator Jacques Grange. To think that Marcilhac and his family lived in a house surrounded by exceptional pieces of furniture is almost beyond belief especially when you imagine his children running around such valuable – and for some of them – fragile objects.
He explains in the World of Interiors (January 2014) “…but on top of being highly refined, these objects were made to be used. So you live with them, you put water in the vases, you walk on the rugs, you put things in the chest of drawers, you sit in the armchairs. In short you make them ordinary by daily use. One day my children were dazzled by a Csaky sculpture in a museum. They hadn’t realised that there was one at home and that they lived amongst works of art. It was so much a part of their daily experience that they didn’t realise how unusual and how wonderful the objects were”. Envious doesn’t even start to cover it.
Needless to say it was an unbelievable experience for A-Gent of Style to be allowed to scrutinise up close, touch, open, pull and even sit on some of those pieces of the exhibition and to engage in fascinating conversations with a specialist of 20th C Design. However, the ophidiophobic A-Gent did stand the furthest he possibly could from all the snakes on show – a popular symbol in Art Deco representation –
so please show your appreciation when you get to the close-up shots of the objects represented with snakes (the things you’d do for love!). And since you ask, yes, the iconic Jean-Michel Frank’s fauteuil upholstered in shagreen is very comfortable.
What was revelatory and astonishing was that most of these pieces – eighty to one hundred years old – look incredibly modern and contemporary and showed no age of ageing or being passé. On the contrary, they have stood the test of time and, like a good old wine, have grown old gracefully and even developed over one century a patina and vintage look that are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Pulchritudinous and timeless are the two qualifiers that came to mind when A-Gent of Style walked through the three rooms of the exhibition and saw for the first time the 50-odd gems in real life. The anticipation for and buzz around the entire collection in Paris and sale which will regroup more than another 250 objects – undoubtedly a monumental feat to put together for Sotheby’s – are simply thrilling.
Whether you are an art collector, a discerning aesthete or simply an Art Deco enthusiast, Félix Marcilhac Collection Privée is a must-see. You have until
21 January in the evening to visit Sotheby’s in London for a taster, or
amuse-bouche, of the sale, or see the crème-de-la-crème ensemble in Paris mid-March. And if you would like getting your hands on a piece of history, why not bid! The lowest estimate for the sale has been set at 8 million euros. Going, going…gone!
The catalogue, with a contribution from Karl Lagerfeld, of this exceptional sale will be available early February and will be accompanied by an art book
by Jean-Louis Gaillemin (published by Editions Le Passage) charting
Félix Marcilhac’s career and taste, and containing interviews with
Monsieur Marcilhac himself and key figures from the worlds of fashion and decoration who count among his friends and clients.
But for now, follow A-Gent of Style in this decorative odyssey.
Hallway & Second Room:
And finally, if all of this hasn’t satiated your appetite for Art Deco, have a look at the post A-Gent of Style published last summer about the collection of books, ‘Bibliothèque Félix Marcilhac’, belonging to Marcilhac himself, with dazzling Art-Deco bound covers which was auctioned in December 2012
by Binoche et Giquello. You can view it here.
– Photos by The World of Interiors, Sotheby’s (plus video), Gallery Marcilhac,
The National Portrait Gallery and A-Gent of Style –