André Groult, ‘An Important and Rare Commode’, circa 1926-1928, Sotheby's: Important Design
André Groult, ‘An Important and Rare Commode’, circa 1926-1928, Sotheby's: Important Design
André Groult, ‘An Important and Rare Commode’, circa 1926-1928, Sotheby's: Important Design
André Groult, ‘An Important and Rare Commode’, circa 1926-1928, Sotheby's: Important Design

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Executed by Chanaux & Pelletier, Paris

From the Catalogue:

The 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris presented a pavilion based on the theme of a French Embassy, with each room of the embassy designed by a different decorative artist. André Groult was in charge of the “Chambre de Madame,” or Lady’s bedroom. The interior he created expressed a sophisticated harmony, combining exquisitely executed pieces and precious materials such as shagreen, ebony, ivory, and amazonite.

Next to Groult’s famous anthropomorphic cabinet (now in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris) and below a painting by Marie Laurencin, who was a close friend of Groult’s family, was a stunning commode, covered with cream shagreen and decorated with ivory plaque (see page 89.) A few years later, Groult created for an American client, leaving Avenue Foch in Paris, another version of this bedroom suite executed entirely in green shagreen. The suite comprised a jewelry cabinet, two armchairs, a desk and two chairs, and the present commode (lot 259).

This commode epitomizes André Groult’s style: resolutely modern, yet very much sharing continuity with the past. Groult took inspiration from the classic commode shape, yet “dressed” it with precious green galuchat (shagreen) and adorned it with amazonite gemstone, giving this masterwork an exceptional presence. The use of galuchat was Groult’s signature and a technical tour de force. Following a process where the ray skin has been prepared, it is laboriously applied on the shaped silhouette of the piece, requiring a lot of tremendous skill and patience. On this commode, the shagreen has been applied directly on a mahogany body, a wood which is strong enough to resist shagreen shrinkage. It was executed by Adolphe Chanaux, who learned cabinet making with Groult in the 1920s before becoming one of the most important French Art Deco workshops.

This shagreen commode reflects the major source inspiration of the time: an incredible sense of luxury and preciousness combined with elegant and simple lines, sophisticated details, masterful technique and reference to Cubism. In this design, the intricate geometric pattern of the amazonite of the top is reminiscent of pre-Columbian masks which inspired art in the 1920s.

Groult’s creations have also been sources of inspiration for designers through the 20th Century. The decorative motif of the shagreen, which is the same on the celebrated Anthropomorphic cabinet designed by Groult and the curves of the form, has notably influenced Marc Newson’s riveted aluminum pieces, such as his Pod of Drawers and Lockheed Lounge designs.

—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Signature: impressed 2535 and with maker's monogram twice

René Chavance, Une ambassade française : Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes, Paris, 1925, pl. XXIV (for the white commode in the "Chambre de Madame," in the "Ambassade Française" at the Paris 1925 Exhibition)
Gabrielle Rosenthal, "La cour des métiers et l'ambassade française," L'Art Vivant, October 1925, p. 14 (for the view of the white commode cited above)
Yvonne Brunhammer, 1925, Paris, 1976, p. 68 (for the view of the white commode cited above)
"Un Art de Composer, A Paris, chez un fervent des années trente," Vogue Décoration, 1987, no. 4, p. 99 (for the present lot illustrated)
Yvonne Brunhammer and Suzanne Tise, Decorative Arts of France 1900-1942, New York, 1990, p. 104 (for the view of the white commode cited above)
Lison de Caunes et Jean Perfettini, Le Galuchat, Paris, 1994, p. 138 (for the present lot illustrated)
Félix Marcilhac, André Groult: décorateur-ensemblier du Xxe siècle, Paris, 1997, pp. 152 (for the view of the white commode), 166 (for the white commode) and 185 and inside front and back covers (for the present lot illustrated)
Pierre Kjellberg, Le Mobilier du XXe Siècle, Dictionnaire des Créateurs, Paris, 2000, p. 282 (for the white commode)
Charlotte Benton, Tim Benton and Ghislaine Wood, eds., Art Deco 1910-1939, London, 2003, p.146 (for the above view of the white commode cited above)

Private American Collection, Paris
Jean-Jacques Dutko, Paris
Collection of Claude and Simone Dray, Paris, acquired from the above in 1995
Christie's Paris, Collection Claude et Simone Dray - Art Déco, June 8, 2006, lot 106
DeLorenzo, New York
Acquired from the above by the present owner

About André Groult

A progenitor of art deco whose work hints at Surrealism, André Groult designed furniture that epitomizes the experimental and playful spirit of post-World War I France. Groult’s early work, with its intricate forms derived from nature, demonstrates overlapping tendencies with Art Nouveau. Pushing beyond the limitations of the Art Nouveau style, Groult streamlined his designs in response to new industrial techniques, European modernism, and the influence of African and Asian art. The gentle curves of Groult’s designs display a whimsical attitude and evoke the human figure; the sensual outlines mirror the female body and echo figures from surrealist sculptures and paintings.

French, 1884-1966

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