Provenance plays an essential part in defining an objects pedigree. Its origin, its history, its successive prestigious owners are all essential information that collectors scrutinise before acquiring a piece. For its first sale of the year, on 28th February 2017, the Artcurial
design department of has planned the sale of 75 lots, on this theme. Each of the objects will be presented through the perspective of its Provenance.
We discover the earliest pieces of furniture by Pierre Guariche, presented at the Salon des Arts Ménager of 1951; furniture from the Steph Simon gallery, the first to believe in 1950s French designers; but also, Charlotte Perriand furniture for Les Arcs; Standard chairs by Jean Prouvé ordered after the Second World War for the conference rooms of the Social Security in Paris; or Corbusier public lighting terminal from Firminy.
« Telling the story of a piece of furniture up for auction is retracing the story of its owners, as well as placing it in the context surrounding the creation or purchase of the piece. This is pertinent about famous sets such as Jean Balladur at La Grande Motte, Charlotte Perriand in Les Arcs or Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in Chandigarh. Sometimes we have the opportunity to discover discreet collectors, such as Claude Cherrier, Jean Prouvés cousin. » -- Emmanuel Bérard, director Design Department, Artcurial
The story of Jean Prouvé furniture
The auction includes several emblematic pieces from the virtuoso metal-worker. However, in this occurrence, even more that the pieces themselves, it is the unique story of the particular set up for auction that offers new perspective on the most famous French Master.
His commitment to humanism, which profoundly guided many of his achievements, including the pavilions, is illustrated with a set of 6 Standard chairs (lot 14) ordered for the conference rooms of the Paris Social Security headquarters (estimate: 40,000 - 60,000 / $44,000 - $ 66 000). In 1945, after the Liberation, when Social Security was created, the many regional offices of this new administration needed to be equiped with furniture. The Jean Prouvé workshops are appointed to create this functional and resilient furnishing.
The Présidence desk (lot 11) was successively used by two Parisian architects, including André Bergerioux, the unsuccessful candidate who lost out on the bid to create the Centre Pompidou, whose project was declined by a jury presided by non-other than Jean Prouvé, to the benefit of the Piano et Rogers creation. It carries an estimate of 200,000 - 300,000 / $220,000 $330,000.
The most remarkable set, comprised of ten pieces, is the furniture set given by Jean Prouvé to his cousin Claude Cherrier as a wedding present (lots 42 to 52). The furniture, created in 1946 was used by the young couple who lived with it for their entire life. Pieces include the Lit-divan LC 11 in yellow steel (lot 49) estimate: 8 000 12,000/ $8 800 $13,500.
The great urban sets
Several lots originate from three major urban projects from the second half of the twentieth century. They exemplify the union in overall public projects between architecture and interior design.
Such is the case of the ski resort Les Arcs in the 1960s, whose apartments are fully designed by Charlotte Perriand, who organises the distribution, carries out the interior design and designs the furniture. The bench in solid larch laths (lot 15) from one of the Trois Arcs residential apartments carries an estimate of 7 000 - 8 000 / $7 700 - $8 800.
A little earlier, in 1951, at the request of Nehru, Le Corbusier and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret imagine Chandigarh, the new capital of the Punjab, in the north of India. One of their creations, a light terminal is up for auction (lot 36) (estimate: 20 000 - 30 000 / 22 000 - $33 000), alongside a set of administrative furniture.
In the same spirit, the sale also includes the public light terminals by Jean Balladur for La Grande Motte (Lot 65, Estimate: 2 500 - 3 500 / 2 750 - 3 750 $) or original furniture designed by the architect Georges Candilis, in collaboration with Anja Blomstedt, for the Les Carrats residence, in the seaside resort of Port-Leucate (lots 61 à 64, two bookshelves, estimated 10 000 15 000 / $11 000 16 500 each and modular elements estimated 2 000 3 000 / $2 200 3 300).
To be interested in the provenance of a piece, is to study it. Sometimes, this research is the opportunity to find a hidden signature, to discover a more unexpected style in a recognised artist.
In this spirit of rediscovery, one must mention the first pieces of furniture by Pierre Guariche, presented at the 1951 Salon des Arts Ménagers, including a Prefacto buffet (lot 58) (estimate: 2 500 - 3 500/ $2 750 - $3 850); or the Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann twelve chairs set purchased in 1970 by Hervé Poulain, auctioneer and Honorary President of Artcurial and avid collector (lot 33), estimate: 100,000 - 150 000/ $110,000 - $165,000.
The most expensive piece of the sale is a rare lamp by Pierre Chareau, the Grande Religieuse, created in 1928 (lot 24). Composed of a mahogany stand and a lampshade formed of alabaster triangles, this lamp was displayed in the lobby of the prestigious hotel Beauvallon, Saint Maxime in the Var, and is a testimony to the Golden Age of Cote d'Azur Tourism, well before summer tourism became an industry (estimate: 400,000 - 600,000 / ¢440,000 - $660,000).
From Miami to Italy
If French Masters are the cornerstone of this auction, a selection of contemporary pieces by Ron Arad, created in 2005 are presented. The Paved with good intentions coffee table (lot 66) was introduced for the first time at Design Miami, in the midst of a monumental presentation at the Collins Building, composed of 68 other tables (estimate : 25,000 35,000/ $27,500 $38,500).
Italian designers are not left out. Gio Ponti mirrors from Bristol Hotel in Merano in Italie (lots 1 and 2), a lit panel by Giacomo Benevelli (lot 67) or furniture by Piero Fornasetti, such as the « Léopard » dresser (lot 75) (estimate: 22,000 28,000 / $24,200 $30,800), are included in the sale.