Sotheby’s Paris to Auction Art Deco Masterpieces

Sotheby’s Paris announces that it will offer seven Art Deco masterpieces from 1920s-30s Paris, including two major works by Eileen Gray in its 20th Century Decorative Arts & Contemporary Design sale on November 22nd 2011. Gray’s legendary Transat armchair and an extraordinary monumental curved bar by Eckart Muthesius were designed for the Palace of the Maharajah of Indore.


Eileen Gray Transat armchair. Photo: Sotheby’s.

Other highlights include: a table Gray designed for her own home, the villa Tempe à Pailla in the South of France; a spectacular pair of mirrored doors by René Lalique; a monumental panel by Jean Dunand and an iconic table by Eugène Printz. Reflecting Sotheby’s new strategy to make Paris the European venue for sales of 20th Century Decorative Arts & Contemporary Design, the auction will offer a unique opportunity to acquire Art Deco treasures that have never previously appeared on the market. All are unique works and/or have remained in private hands for decades.

Two Masterpieces from the Palace of the Maharajah of Indore
The highlight of the sale is the legendary black-lacquered, chrome and leather Transat armchair designed by Eileen Gray for the Palace of the Maharajah of Indore, India in 1930, (pictured on page one, estimated €800,000 – €1 million / $1,105,750 – 1,382,000 / £700,500 – 875,500 ). This exceptional chair was acquired at the sale of the furniture from the Maharajah’s Palace at Sotheby’s Monaco in May 1980, and has remained in the same collection since that time. The Palace’s sumptuous 1930s interiors, which defined it as a temple of international Modernism, were produced by the German architect, interior designer and landscape gardener Eckart Muthesius in collaboration with the finest avant-garde artist-decorators of the day, notably Eileen Gray, Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann, Le Corbusier and Louis Sognot. Their remarkably pure, yet luxurious designs were perfectly adapted to the elaborate ceremonies held in the Maharajah’s palace, and formed an eloquent manifesto for 1930s Modernism.

From the same legendary collection comes an extraordinary, monumental curved barunit in black painted wood and alpaca, complete with two stools (1930). This newly rediscovered item, of exceptional modernity and refinement, is emblematic of the avant-garde tastes of Eckart Muthesius. The bar-unit, which had remained in India until today, was known only from photographs of the Maharajah’s Palace taken by Eckart Muthesius after work there had been completed in 1933. No image had previously conveyed the extent of the bar’s sinuous form, or its alpaca interior (est. €400,000-600,000 / $552,900 – 829,300 / £350,000 – 525,000*).

Eileen Gray coffee-table designed for her own home
Another highly desirable lot is a unique Eileen Gray copper and tubular metal coffee-table (c.1935-50) from her villa Tempe à Pailla in Castellar in the South of France, which Gray bequeathed to the mother of the current owner (est. €100,000 – 150,000 / $138,200 – 207,300 / £87,550 – 131,000).

Monumental glass doors by René Lalique
A unique pair of spectacular, moulded glass doors (1929) by René Lalique will enchant collectors of Art Deco. These exceptionally large doors (9ft by 6ft) from Lady Trent’s residence on the island of Jersey, are appearing at auction for the first time. They were exhibited in 1929 at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs, then at the Breves Lalique Gallery in London, and have since changed hands only once. They reflect the extent of Lalique’s fame – the designer received commissions not just from France, but from the UK and the rest of Europe (est. €400,000 – 600,000 / $552,900 – 829,300 /£350,000 – 525,000).

Monumental Panel by Jean Dunand
Sotheby’s will also be offering a decorative eight-fold panel signed by Jean Dunand, depicting Monkeys Playing In The Trees (1929). This monumental composition in coloured lacquer with incised motifs on a goldleaf ground, measuring over 15ft x 9ft, was designed for Madame Yacubovich of Paris in 1929. The full decorative ensemble was later bought by Lucienne Dhotelle, an internationally renowned music-hall artiste known as La Môme Moineau (The Sparrow Kid), who also modelled for the couturier Paul Poiret, was one of the world’s richest women and owned a fabled collection of jewellery. Lucienne Dhotelle was renowned for commissioning contemporary artists to decorate her homes in Cannes and Maisons-Laffitte (est. €300,000-500,000 / $414,500 – 691,000 / £262,650 – 437,750).

Iconic table by Eugène Printz
This black-lacquered/ oxidized metal dining-table (c.1933), with sophisticated patterned legs, is a unique, iconic work by Eugène Printz (est. €250,000-500,000 / $347,350 – 691,000 /£218.000 – 437,750).

Palissander and shagreen cabinet by Marcel Coard
Another unique piece of the utmost refinement is an oak and palissander shagreen-lined cabinet by Marcel Coard (c.1927), which has remained in the same private collection for 30 years. Coard’s meticulous, rectangular design has architectural rigour and perfectly encapsulates his rarefied talent (est. €150,000-200,000 / $207,300 – 276,400 / £131,000 – 175,000).

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