• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 1942

    Important 20th Century Decorative Art & Design

    18 December 2007, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 284

    PIERRE CHAREAU (1883-1950)


    Price Realised  


    PIERRE CHAREAU (1883-1950)
    A Wenge and Iron Sideboard, circa 1927**
    palissandre interior, middle compartment opening to reveal adjustable shelf, one side compartment opening to reveal one adjustable shelf, the other reveals two adjustable shelves
    43 1/8 in. (109.4 cm.) high, 96 5/8 in. (245.4 cm.) wide, 18¾ in. (47.7 cm.) deep

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    1927 was the year in which Chareau initiated his most important architectural project, the Maison de Verre, a historic Modernist statement in steel and glass, completed in 1931. And it was the year in which he created the a dining room, of which the present sideboard was part, within another crucial project. This suite, remarkable for its bold use of bare iron supports that resemble sections of girder rather than any conventional furniture legs, makes a powerful statement about the potential alliance of architecture, engineering and furniture design. It was conceived for the Paris residence of the Reifenberg family, a villa planned by Modernist architect Robert Mallet-Stevens for 4-6 rue Mallet-Stevens. Chareau was invited to collaborate and made a major contribution to the interior schemes for this project, most notably his rigorous but luxurious concept for the dining room. Here he created shallow, asymmetrical stepped sections to ceiling and wall that concealed a diffused lighting scheme and echoed the simple geometry of the furniture. His choice of a rich wenge wood and a striped palissander brought warmth and opulence to the formal simplicity of the scheme. The perfect balance of restraint and sophistication that he achieved in this room in the harmony of functionalist yet sumptuous furniture and architectural setting set a standard for the development of Modernist ideas in France. Pierre Chareau had proved his stature in this new style. The Reifenberg dining room was instrumental in establishing his credentials and emphatically situated him as a Modernist. He became a key figure within the Union des Artistes Modernes, the association, generally known as the UAM, established in 1929 to promote this new direction in design.

    This unique sideboard was the principal storage unit within the dining room scheme created by Chareau for the Reifenberg commission. It extends the concept of reducing forms to their functional essence yet endowing them with a sense of quality and opulence by the high standard of execution and the use of rich woods.


    Sotheby's, Monte Carlo, 19 October 1986, lot 302.
    Private collection, United States.
    With DeLorenzo Gallery, New York.
    Private collection, California, since 1994.

    Pre-Lot Text

    Dining room at Madame Reifenberg's apartment on the rue Mallet-Stevens, Paris, 1927


    O. Cinqalbre, Pierre Chareau architecte, un art intérieur, exhibition catalogue, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1993, pp. 188-189 for an period photograph and for a detailed analysis of the Reifenberg project.
    R. Herbst, Pierre Chareau, Paris, 1954, p. 69 for an alternative period photograph of the dining suite in situ. The caption erroneously describes the wood as amboyna and gives a date of 1930.