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Art Deco Masterpieces At Bonhams Design Sale In London

Jean Dunand, 'Les Biches' folding screen, circa 1926. Estimate: £50,000 - 70,000
Jean Dunand, 'Les Biches' folding screen, circa 1926. Estimate: £50,000 - 70,000

Pieces by two French Masters of Art Deco design feature in Bonhams inaugural 20th Century & Contemporary Design sale on Wednesday 14 October at 101 New Bond Street LondonLes Biches, a folding screen made c.1926 by Jean Dunand, leads the sale and is estimated at £50,000-70,000.

Swiss by birth, Dunand (1877-1942) became a French citizen in 1922 and spent most of his life in Paris. A painter, and interior designer, he was particularly known for his lacquered screens, often using floral or animal designs as in Les Biches (The Hinds). He was in great demand from private and commercial clients and designed the famous lacquer smoking room for the French luxury liner SS Normandie. His work is represented in museums and galleries throughout the world.

Dunand occasionally worked with his near contemporary Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann (1879-1933), whose work is also offered in the sale, including a Puech extendable table (£20,000-25,000); a Soussa desk (£18,000-22,000), and a Davène bookcase (£15,000-20,000). Ruhlmann, who established his own workshop in rue Quessant in Paris in 1923, became a byword for luxury and modernity, sparing no expense in time or materials. He scored a great success at the epoch-defining 1925 International Exhibition of Modern Decorative & Industrial Arts in Paris – the event which coined the term Art Deco. Alongside the international exhibition, Ruhlmann organised an exhibition of his own work Hotel du Collectionneur (The Collectors House) to which Dunand contributed.

Bonhams Director of Design Marcus McDonald said: “Jean Dunand and Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann were hugely influential in the Art Deco movement. Through their work, they created a unique style and look for a whole generation, and their influence on design is felt to this day.”

Other highlights of the sale include:

  • ‘Committee’ table, model no. LC/PJ-TAT-14-B, designed for the Assembly, Chandigarh by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret 1963-1964. Estimate: £40,000-60,000.
  • Important sideboard from the 1950s by Paul Dupré-Lafon .Lacquered sycamore, leather, brass. Authenticated by the estate of Paul Dupré-Lafon. Estimate: £20,000-30,000.
  • ‘Une oie’, petit modèle, circa 1912 by Rembrandt Bugatti. Bronze with black patina. Cast by A.A. Hébrard, Paris, France. Number 9 from the production of 19. Estimate: £20,000-30,000.

Rare and early ‘Astronomer’s’ chair, made in 1873 by William Callaghan. Birch, birch-veneered plywood. This strangely shaped wooden chair was made using the steam-bending technique which allowed for more adventurous shapes than tradition wood-cutting methods. It was manufactured by William Callaghan, an optician with premises on New Bond Street, London who made specialist equipment including telescopes.  It is thought that he designed this chair for his star-gazing customers.  Estimate £800-1,200.

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