Estimate: £1,000,000 - £1,500,000
ca. US$1,264,222 - US$1,896,333
Price realised: n. a.
Property from a Private European Collection Armand-Albert Rateau Unique and important dining table and set of ten chairs from the hôtel particulier Thalheimer, Paris circa 1931 Table: Japanese ash, Giallo d’Istria marble. Chairs: cherry wood, leather, brass nailheads. Table: 72.4 x 249.3 x 93.9 cm (28 1/2 x 98 1/8 x 36 7/8 in.) Each chair: 68.5 x 59 x 53.5 cm (26 7/8 x 23 1/4 x 21 1/8 in.) Executed by Les Ateliers de Neuilly-Levallois, France. Underside of each chair impressed A.A.RATEAU and numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 12 respectively.
Provenance Dr. Marcel Thalheimer, 24 avenue du Recteur-Poincaré, Paris, circa 1931 Thence by descent to the present owners Literature 'Une formule nouvelle réalisée par les Ateliers de Neuilly-Levallois', Art et Industrie, October 1934, p. 21 for an image of the commission Marcel Zahar, 'Les Ateliers de Neuilly-Levallois', L'Art Vivant, September 1935, p. 185 for images of the commission Alastair Duncan, A.A. Rateau, exh. cat., DeLorenzo Gallery, New York, 1990, p. 84 for the chairs Franck Olivier-Vial and François Rateau, Armand Albert Rateau un baroque chez les modernes, Paris, 1992, pp. 172-76, 236 for a discussion and images of the commission Hélène Guéné, Décoration et Haute Couture: Armand Albert Rateau pour Jeanne Lanvin un autre Art déco, Paris, 2006, pp. 68-69 for the chairs Catalogue Essay Beyond Art Deco: The Hôtel Particulier Thalheimer in Context After studies at the École Boulle (applied arts) Armand-Albert Rateau served from 1906 to 1915 as the director of decorative work for the large Parisian firm Maison Alavoine & Cie. In this luxurious and cultured setting, which had an international clientele, the styles of the past were favoured, from French classicism to the Italian Renaissance and all the different ‘Louis’ styles. The decorator offered fully furnished rooms, embellished with all sorts of furniture and art objects which his Ateliers de Neuilly-Levallois knew how to restore, copy, or manufacture thanks to the work of fifteen highly specialized craftsmen. However, ‘pastiche’ was not the only rule: imitation and invention coexisted in interwar Paris. Rateau had the savoir faire to be able to renew his design language and soon he was alternating between projets de style and projets modernes. Thus a document from Rateau’s archives specifies the list of “interiors executed in the modern taste”, such as the hôtel particulier of the couturier Jeanne Lanvin rue Barbet-de-Jouy (from 1920) or the music room created for the American composer Cole Porter in his apartment on rue Monsieur (1927-1928). The hôtel particulier commissioned by “Docteur Thalheimer et Melle Stern”, 24 avenue du Recteur-Poincaré, Passy, appeared on the same list – an “installation designed entirely as an example”, he emphasised elsewhere. These “works executed en moderne (Aff. N°7000) - 1929-1930)” encompassed a broad range of materials, thus described: “Stucco. Decoration. Tiles. Staircase. Wrought iron. Furnishings. Tapestry. Curtains”. Rateau worked closely with the architects René Bétourné and Léon Fagnen. Collaborators, then successors of René Sergent (1865-1927) they were internationally renowned. Like Rateau, they knew how to reinterpret old styles in a refined manner that was dominated by a very French form of classical rationalism associated with the highest level of ‘confort moderne’—central heat, hot water, telephones, elevator, etc. In the Thalheimer residence, which was more of a bourgeois building (without a garden) than an aristocratic dwelling, the decorative language was simplified drastically in favour of function and use, and not without relation to the professional activities of the owner. The key words here are efficiency and convenience: for the surgeon, Rateau designed a desk with extremely sophisticated mechanics; in the spirit of Pierre Chareau furniture “studied to render easy and practical all the essential gestures” (L’Architecture d’aujourd’hui, December 1932). “The essential goal was to achieve a simplified ensemble of easy and perfect upkeep. Unnecessary ornaments and mouldings have been mercilessly suppressed. We have used exclusively materials of the first order”, insisted the architects. This was the prevailing fashion, Adolf Loos having paved the way at the turn of the twentieth century. The quality, the beauty, and the colour of materials took precedence over the design of cornices, mouldings, and panelling (even in light grey cerused oak, as in Jeanne Lanvin’s residence, rue Barbet de Jouy). The coherenc
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