• Sale 2392

    Historical Design Reflects: The East 61st Street Years

    8 December 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 363

    AFTER A DESIGN BY EDGAR BRANDT

    A HAND-REPOUSSÉ BRASS AND NICKLED-METAL FIVE-PANEL 'OASIS' SCREEN, 1920S

    Price Realised  

    AFTER A DESIGN BY EDGAR BRANDT
    A Hand-Repoussé Brass and Nickled-Metal Five-Panel 'Oasis' Screen, 1920s
    with lacquered details, nickeled-bronze feet, the reverse fabric upholstered
    each panel: 55½ in. (141 cm.) high, 18 7/8 in. (48 cm.) wide


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    Edgar Brandt's display room #45 in the Salon d' Ameublement at the
    1925 Paris Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes was a treasure trove of the Art Moderne style rendered in wrought-iron and bronze. Among the plethora of superb ironwork: a console, torchères, sconces and grilles, was the masterful screen L'Oasis.

    This five-paneled screen, six feet high and eight feet long, in
    silvered-iron and electroplated brass was seen by millions of people,
    both at the fair, and in magazines and newspapers. Its flowing
    fountain, the focal point -la source- for the luxuriant tropical garden of circular gear-like flowers scattered amongst large chevroned croton leaves, was admired and copied.

    An unknown artisan, possibly a goldsmith, or a coppersmith - certainly a veritable master of repoussé, made the screen that Christie's presents in this sale. In repoussé, the design is marked on the back of thin sheet metal and placed on a bed of pitch (coal tar). The artist accomplishes the design by pounding from the back with various mallets.

    Conceivably, this smaller version of Brandt's design was a backdrop
    for a theatrical presentation, or part of the setting for a jazz
    nightclub revue. Perhaps a decorator commissioned it for an Art Deco boudoir or salon. Whether it is American or European is secondary to the fact that it is a superior example of metalwork. Christie's
    screen is not an exact copy of Brandt's L'Oasis; its smaller scale and the repouse technique give it a subtle and jewel-like presence. The
    delicate folded edges of the leaves, and the overlapping of the
    flowers, leaves and water lines are skillfully done. The crimped
    flowers appear to be spinning in a tropical constellation. The gold
    background scrolls catch the light and play off the silvered
    fountain. Minute pins hold all the elements securely. In a touch of
    whimsy, the artisan placed a thin line of red lacquer to eight of the
    flowers.

    If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, this screen honors its iconic model, L'Oasis, and yet retains its autonomy as a separate
    work of art.

    Joan Kahr

    Provenance

    Private collection, Detroit