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Composed of geometric forms and motifs stylized from nature - birds, flowers, waterfalls, sunbursts and cloud - Edgar Brandt's superbly crafted metalwork, with its refined and elegant scrolls, embodies the essence of French Art Deco. Already well known prior to the 1925 Paris Exhibition, Brandt was catapulted to international fame by his extraordinary Porte d'Honneur, executed with the architects André Ventre and Henri Favier, as by his own display in the Salon d'Ameublement. Here, as a focal point was magnificent five-panel L'Oasis screen, perhaps Brandt's masterpiece, as well as an extraordinary twenty-light chandelier of the same design as that in the Greenberg collection, which, with its grand scrolling arms, resembled a large and regal flower unfurling. Brandt's extensive contributions to the 1925 exhibition led to numerous large-scale commissions including his first project in the United States, the main entrance, window frames, decorative iron work and grilles for the Madison-Belmont Building on Madison Avenue and 34th Street, as well as the interior showroom for the Cheney Brother's fabric house. These US commissions were the impetus for opening a New York office, Ferrobrandt Inc., and, around the same time, he expanded his Paris atelier. Brandt crafted metal works for hotels, embassies, museums, ocean liners, including Normandie, and for elite private European and American clients, often working in concert with leading architects and designers of the day, including Emile-Jacque Ruhlmann. For his lighting designs Brandt collaborated with the Daum glassworks in Nancy, who provided colored glass shades. The greatest ironworker of his era, none of Brandt's contemporaries could compare in creativity or technical prowess. Eager to ally art and industry, he combined traditional forging methods with new techniques that opened unprecedented possibilities to combine metals, combining wrought iron with bronze, steel or aluminum, and creating varied patinations. The interwar years proved a golden age for metalwork and Edgar Brandt deserves credit as the most influential creative figure to breathe new life and envisage new possibilities in this medium, making elaborated metalwork an essential ingredient to architecture or interior design.


patinated wrought-iron, acid-etched glass shades with gold leaf inclusions
46 in. (117 cm.) drop, 43 in. (109.5 cm.) diameter
the metal stamped E Brandt, each shade engraved Daum Nancy with a Cross of Lorraine
Rod Stewart, Los Angeles;
Sotheby's, New York, 9 June 2000, lot 182.

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Lot Essay

cf. M. Dufrène, Ensembles Mobiliers: Exposition Internationale 1925, Paris, 1925, pl. 71, p. 153 for an image of a chandelier of this model at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris, 1925;
J. Kahr, Edgar Brandt: Art Deco Ironwork, Atglen, PA, 2010, pp. 119-120 for images of a chandelier of this model at the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, Paris, 1925.

Edgar Brandt, the protean artist/blacksmith of the early twentieth century, based his career on the use of modern metalworking techniques in order to evoke the style and character of his time. He felt that decorative artists had relied on historicist models, such as the Louis styles, for far too long. Purist blacksmiths would use only the anvil and the hammer. While Brandt used the traditional skills of the anvil and the hammer, he also used power hammers and oxy-acetylene welding guns and other mechanical devices. He felt that new tools and techniques gave him greater latitude of expression. He said: "In order to create, the artist must use all the means that science places at his disposal." To Brandt, it made no sense to limit oneself to old methods. This philosophy allowed him to develop an ironwork repertoire that earned him worldwide commissions and fame.

On April 15, 1925 the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes opened in Paris. Besides being a judge for the metalwork section, Brandt and his ironwork was found all over the fair. In his own display room, Stand 45 in the Salon d'Ameublement, he created a treasure trove of tables, grilles, sconces, torchères, vases, the iconic Art Deco screen, L'Oasis, and the great chandelier (most probably the one offered in this sale). The public and the critics lauded Brandt, and easily understood why he was deemed hors concours or above the competition.

The room, planned as a narrow vestibule, featured a circular center table with large S-scrolls at the base. Above the table was an imposing glass and wrought iron chandelier. Two rows of lace-like floral arms gracefully open from the center, like the petals of a flower, each with a design of vines, leaves, small modernistic flowers and some tiny berries. The larger arms scroll out and upward, while the smaller wings above scroll downward. This opposition enhances the elegance of the design by allowing it to be seen from two angles. Twenty bell-shaped, and acid-etched Daum glass shades are incised with two rows of C-scrolls referencing the scrolls of the iron. Below the arms are four graduated shades in descending size, offering additional light. The iron arms were lightly gilded over a rich brown/gold patina; and the glass shades have gilded flakes that the French called verreries métallique. The light from this luminous fixture blended with the tones in the room of gray, silver and gold, and with the indirect and cove lighting in the layered concavity at the top of the walls. The chandelier was the centerpiece in a space that illuminated the art deco ferronnerie that Edgar Brandt had pioneered.

Joan Kahr
author of Edgar Brandt, Art Deco Ironwork

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