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A Rare 'Elling' Sideboard

A Rare 'Elling' Sideboard
executed by Gerard van de Groenekan, De Bilt, painted and stained beech
branded 'H.G.M. G.A.v.d. Groenekan, De Bilt Nederland' (to the reverse)
41 x 78 ¾ x 17 ¾ in. (104 x 200 x 45 cm.)

Designed 1919, this example executed circa 1970.

The unique first example of this cabinet was exhibited in 1920 and was soon acquired by the architect Piet Elling. That example is now lost, destroyed in a fire, and no other pre-war examples are known. From 1958 onwards a small number of cabinets, including the present example, were produced to-order by Rietveld’s dedicated cabinetmaker, Gerard van de Groenekan.

Other examples are included in the collections of the Stedlijk Museum, Amsterdam, and the Kirkland Museum, Denver.
Private Collection, The Netherlands, commisioned
direct from the maker.
Thence by descent to the present owner.
Other examples of this model illustrated:
M. Kuper, I. van Zijl (eds.), Gerrit Th. Rietveld: the complete works, 1888-1964, Utrecht 1992, pp. 78-79.
P. Vöge, The Complete Rietveld Furniture, Rotterdam 1993, pp. 10, 52.
J. van Adrichem (ed.), The furniture collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, 1850-2000: from Michael Thonet to Marcel Wanders, Rotterdam 2004, p. 296, no. 448.
I. van Zijl, Gerrit Rietveld, London 2010, pp. 33-34.
Special notice
This lot will be removed to Christie’s Park Royal. Christie’s will inform you if the lot has been sent offsite. Our removal and storage of the lot is subject to the terms and conditions of storage which can be found at and our fees for storage are set out in the table below - these will apply whether the lot remains with Christie’s or is removed elsewhere. Please call Christie’s Client Service 24 hours in advance to book a collection time at Christie’s Park Royal. All collections from Christie’s Park Royal will be by pre-booked appointment only. Tel: +44 (0)20 7839 9060 Email: If the lot remains at Christie’s it will be available for collection on any working day 9.00 am to 5.00 pm. Lots are not available for collection at weekends.

Brought to you by

Jeremy Morrison
Jeremy Morrison

Lot Essay

The Elling cabinet belongs to a brief yet explosively creative chapter in Rietveld’s development as an architect and designer. Together with the now-iconic ‘Red-Blue’ chair created some two years prior in 1917, these works capture the intellectual and artistic tumult of a world now in change. Both these works present as if inversions of their expected type – just as the substance of a chair is merely traced by the delineations of the frame, so too the cabinet reveals the interior as exterior, the components identified, exploded and now held static in time, space and volume. The concept of furniture as art, and vice-versa, had for centuries challenged the creative spirit. However, furniture had forever remained bound to the weight of its substance, the intractability of the material rendering only the surface, not the massing, as the sole, superficial, medium for artistic expression. This was to change with Rietveld.
It was the Cubist painters, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso and Juan Gris who pioneered a conceptual de-materialisation of objects,
creating images that suggested multiple vantage points, referencing tribal and primitive art in the process. Encouraged by Russian painter Kasimir Malevich’s Suprematist compositions, the Dutch De Stijl collective, founded in 1917 and which Rietveld joined the following year, saw the embrace of a conceptual abstraction that adopted a more streamlined, reductive personality that was now guided by bold use of line, plane, and colour. The ambient, deconstructed imagery of the painters Theo van Doesberg, Bart van der Leck, and Piet Mondrian, amongst others, found material synergy with Rietveld’s own experimental abstractions of furniture, and together a unique and pioneering environment demonstrating consistency of expression, and across all medium, was now established.
Georges Braque, Still Life with a Pair of Banderillas, 1911. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

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