ELIEEN GRAY (1879-1976)
ELIEEN GRAY (1879-1976)
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EILEEN GRAY (1879-1976)


EILEEN GRAY (1879-1976)
Petit Tapis à motif géométrique, circa 1922-1924
handwoven wool
32.¾ x 25. 5/8 in. (83 x 65 cm)
Jean Désert, Eileen Gray’s gallery in Paris
Jeanne Tachard, Paris, acquired from the above
Thence by descent
Pierre Agoune, Paris
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Paris, Centre Georges Pompidou, Eileen Gray, 20 February - 20 May 2013, reproduced p. 90
Dublin, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Eileen Gray: Retrospective, 13 October 2013 - 26 January 2014
Paris, Galerie Jacques De Vos, Eileen Gray de Jean Désert à Temple a Palla, 12 September - 31 October 2014, reproduced pp. 180-181
Metz, France, Centre Pompidou Metz, Couples Modernes 1900-1950, 28 April - 20 August 2018
New York, Bard Graduate Center, Eileen Gray, 13 - 28 October 2020, reproduced p. 39

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Alex Heminway
Alex Heminway

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Lot Essay

This lot will be included in the catalogue raisonné written by Mr. Patrice le Faÿ d’Etxepare d’Ibarrola.

Eileen Gray’s rugs, with their modish abstract graphic motifs, enjoyed greater commercial success than any other area of her creative activity. More affordable than her labour-intensive lacquer work, they accounted for a relatively high proportion of sales, as confirmed by the ledger of her gallery, Jean Désert. Known today from her widely illustrated original gouache designs and from contemporary photographs, the rugs themselves have, however, become exceedingly rare, the inevitable consequence of their vulnerability to constant use. The present example, a remarkable survivor, is emblematic of Gray’s ideas in this area. The design is featured prominently in a suite of period photographs; and the rug boasts an illustrious provenance.
Gray started to design rugs around 1910 and was soon engaged in their production in collaboration with her friend Evelyn Wyld, who oversaw an atelier in the rue Visconti, a street that ran perpendicular to the rue Bonaparte where Gray lived. Gray’s designs feature consistently in published period images of her own and other interiors, and in installation shots of her furniture, judiciously matched to that furniture. One such set of images shows an example of the present rug, though in variant tones. Likely shot in Jean Désert, the images show the rug draped over a step in front of the sycamore architect’s cabinet that resurfaced in Gray’s estate auction. A black lacquer ‘Brick’ screen is visible to the left. Cabinet and rug share their graphic play of overlaid asymmetrical rectangular blocks, referencing the various avant-garde art movements, from Cubism to Constructivism, with which Gray was so in tune.
The rug was purchased from Gray’s gallery by Jeanne Tachard, the friend of Jacques Doucet and the associate of Juliette Lévy, the three collectors linked by their championing of Gray’s work. The sales ledger of Jean Désert specifically references only one ‘Tapis’ purchased by Tachard, on 13 March 1923 for 1800 Francs, possibly the present rug.

Philippe Garner

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