Ada and Cesare Minola, Casa M-1, Turin.
Thence by descent.
Casa M-1, circa 1946, showing the present lot in situ (shows chair, table, settee against wall)
Casa M-1, circa 1950s, showing the present lot in situ (shows general view of room)
Casa M-1, Turin, model wearing jewellery designed by Ada Minola, circa 1970, photograph by Gio Minola (image credit Courtesy Museo Casa Mollino - Turin)
F. and N. Ferrari, The Furniture of Carlo Mollino, London, 2006, p. 95, pl. 94 (illustrated in situ, early 1970s); p. 179, pl. 182.
F. and N. Ferrari (eds.), Carlo Mollino, Arabesques, exh. cat., GAM, Turin, 2006, p. 70, pl. 67 (illustrated in situ); p. 216, pl. 13a (annotated contact prints).
R. Colombari, Carlo Mollino, Milan, 2005, p.30 (illustrated in situ).
M. De Giorgi, Carlo Mollino, Devalle, Minola, Lutrario, Milan, 2004, pp. 96-125 (discussion and illustrations of the Casas M-1 and M-2).
I. De Guttry and M. P. Maino, Il Mobile Italiano degli Anni '50, Rome, 1992, p. 211, pl. 10 (illustrated in situ).
G. Brino, Carlo Mollino, Architecture as Autobiography, London, 1985, pp. 96-98 (illustrated in situ).
Domus, 227, 1948, p. 12-18 (Casa M-1 reviewed).
Carlo Mollino, a versatile, inspired and highly idiosycratic individual of innate ability to synthesize diverse influences and passions, is today acknowledged as one of the most strikingly original exponents of mid-century Italian architecture and design.
Carried out at the height of the war, with special effects obtained with modest materials in the hands of skilled craftsmen, the Casa M-1, an apartment on Via Perrone, Turin, endures as the most resolved of Mollino's early domestic interiors. Commenced in summer 1944 and completed by spring 1946, the Casa M-1, commissioned by Ada and Cesare Minola, was one of two apartments in the same 1920s building that Mollino undertook concurrently. The second interior, the Casa M-2, was produced marginally later for Cesare's brother Guglielmo and his wife Franca. As with all of Mollino's domestic interiors, the relationship between architect and client was characterized by an intimacy born of friendship and understanding. Cesare and his brother Guglielmo had with Mollino shared an education at the same high school, and Ada had known Mollino since at least the early 1940s, as confirmed by a number of photographs Mollino took of her during 1940-41. An artist and later a jewellery designer and gallerist, Ada was instrumental in encouraging Mollino to exercise complete aesthetic and architectural freedom in the interior scheme and furnishings, yielding a dramatic yet fluid interior that was characterized by soft, sensual and organic forms.
The subtle theatrical and experimental interior of the Casa M-1 was pivotal to the development of Mollino's aesthetic vocabulary, introducing forms and concepts that would be re-appraised in subsequent commissions. Featuring a living and dining area that was partitioned by an organically styled console, a free-standing central fireplace, and dramatically enlarged lithographic illustrations to the walls, the Casa M-1 represented the resolution of Mollino's mature and highly personalised vision. The mobile sensuality of the furnishings eloquently complimented Mollino's use of colour and texture within the interior, which incorporated a padded red leather door, violet velvet curtains, ebonized and gilded wood, Carrara marble and parquetry. Designed in March 1946, the pair of highly sensual, anthropomorphic high-back lounge chairs produced exclusively for that interior, offer elegantly biomorphic technique and endure as both the defining feature of the Casa M-1, and as one of the most acclaimed and significant of Mollino's chair designs.
For the Casa M-2, the neighbouring apartment of Franca and Guglielmo Minola, Mollino produced a pair of closely related chairs, of very comparable form however with an overall less rounded appearance to the shape of the wings and upward slant of the armrests. Whilst the Casa M-1 embraced an unrestrained and organic spirit, the more conservative Casa M-2 offered a more subdued, almost rustic palette of browns and greys, and furnishings that presented a more linear, structural, profile. In 1968 Mollino supervised the reupholstery of the pairs of chairs from both the Casas M-1 and M-2, specifically selecting the green velvet upholstery now present. Of the four chairs produced for the Casas M-1 and M-2, the pair to the present lot, Casa M-1 has, as has this example, remained in a private collection since 1946. Both chairs from the Casa M-2 were sold separately in the mid-1980s and subsequently entered private collections.
Christie's would like to thank Fulvio and Napoleone Ferrari from the Museo Casa Mollino, Turin, for their assistance in cataloguing this lot.