Phillips to offer Jean Dunand's art deco masterpiece 'Les Palmiers' Smoking Room, 1930-1936

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Phillips to offer Jean Dunand's art deco masterpiece 'Les Palmiers' Smoking Room, 1930-1936
Jean Dunand (1877-1942), ‘Les Palmiers’ smoking room, from the residence of Mademoiselle Colette Aboucaya, Paris, 1930-1936. Estimate £1,500,000 – 2,000,000 Image courtesy of Phillips.

LONDON.- This Spring, Phillips presents a rare opportunity to view the smoking room ‘Les Palmiers’, designed by Jean Dunand from 1930-1936 for the Parisian apartment of Mademoiselle Collette Aboucaya on rue de Monceau. Standing as one of the great achievements in 20th Century French Design, ‘Les Palmiers’ will be offered alongside the original daybed designed by the Japanese artist Katsu Hamanaka, which was acquired by the late designer Kenzo in the late 90s before moving to another collection where it has remained until today. Phillips’ Design auction in London on 4 May will unite these works for the first time since they first appeared on the market in 1997.

Domenico Raimondo, Head of Design, Europe and Senior International Specialist, said, “For the first time Phillips will be offering a French Art Deco environment, an unrivalled masterpiece of historical significance that embodies the very notion of luxury and craftmanship that characterises that period. Through various layers of lacquer built upon different material surfaces, with “Les Palmiers” Jean Dunand reached the apex of his career. This is a very different kind of space to those we have offered previously and yet, in its timelessness and abstraction, it fits perfectly, crowning them all. For all the aforementioned reasons we are immensely proud to be given the opportunity to present “Les Palmiers” for the first time outside of France.”

Jean Dunand and ‘Les Palmiers’
On the occasion of the landmark 1925 Paris 'Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes', Dunand was invited by the president of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs to design a smoking room for the French Embassy Pavilion. It marked the first time Dunand used lacquered panels to delineate an entire room and the work was highly acclaimed by critics. At the 1925 exhibition, Dunand’s lacquer designs for the car interiors of coachbuilder Henri Binder were also exhibited. It is through this collaboration that Dunand received the commission for the present smoking room for Mademoiselle Colette Aboucaya, whose family had recently acquired Binder’s company.

Composed of lacquered panels with integrated lacquered and engraved metal plates, ‘Les Palmiers’ smoking room features an interplay of tones and textures that demonstrates Dunand’s mastery of the ancient technique of lacquer. The resulting surface effects and the graphic use of line to depict a forest of stylised palm trees evoke an exotic scene through abstract simplicity, emblematic of the French Art Deco movement. The work is signed by Dunand and was furnished with black lacquered and tinted shagreen designs by Hamanaka, including the present daybed.

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