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A green-painted whitewood and leather upright armchair 'bankstoeltje'
THE PROPERTY OF BERTUS MULDER, UTRECHT (LOTS 456-467) Bertus Mulder (b. 1929) studied architecture at the Academie voor Bouwkunst in Arnhem, at the Hochschule für Gestaltung in Ulm and at the Technische Hochschule in Aachen. He used to work for Gerrit Rietveld and later specialised as restoration architect for work by Rietveld. He has several publications to his name. LECTURE: Christie's Amsterdam is pleased to invite her clients to a Dutch lecture by Bertus Mulder on the topic of Rietveld, to be held on Thursday, September 27, at 7.30pm on the first floor of Cornelis Schuytstraat 57, Amsterdam. Rsvp before 24 September as space is limited: csturm@christies.com 0031 (0)20 5755 232. Preface by Bertus Mulder "In the years 1960-1963, I worked for Gerrit Rietveld as a free-lancer. In 1959 I settled in Utrecht because my girlfriend Monica studied there at the time. I established myself as an independent architect and in the beginning I did not receive any assignments. To be able to make a living, I decided to work for another architect three days a week, initially for Hein Salomonson in Amsterdam, and later for Gerrit Rietveld in Utrecht. My girlfriend and I were living in a two-bedroom flat, and when we were expecting our second child in 1961, I had to find larger housing. I knew that Rietveld had vacated his apartment above the cinema at Vredenburg 8 bis, where he had lived since 1937. When his wife died in 1958 he moved to the Rietveld Schröder House where Truus Schröder already lived since 1925. I did not know whether the apartment was still in use. Judging from the outside, it looked very much inhabited. When I asked Rietveld about it, he replied 'Would you like to move in?' He promptly took the key from his key ring and suggested we should have a look. We did so, and moved in shortly after. Rietveld was quite unattached to his belongings. He was only aware of them at the moment he used them and their material value was meaningless to him. This became apparent when I told him we would like to move into his place. To me, this did not appear unproblematic, since the house was completely furnished, from toothbrushes to famous pieces of furniture which, judging by the labels on their backs, had already been exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. But he said: 'Use whatever you find useful, and just get rid of the rest.' Of course we did not get rid of anything. We moved into the apartment as it was, furnished with Rietveld's household belongings. The furniture we did not want to use was stocked in the alcoves. Eventually, we started to feel suffocated by living in a house which could be a museum. Rietveld cared little whether his apartment would be cleared out. He left it to me to arrange this. Most of his furniture went to his children. A great number of pieces ended up in important museums. We were allowed to keep whatever was left. A bench, a table with foldaway top and a sewing casket have recently joined the collection of the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. The remaining objects are presently being offered in this sale. We have used them with great enjoyment for many years, and now, while we still can, would like to see them move to private or museum collections." Utrecht, July 2012 LITERATURE LIST: 1. Marijke Küper and Ida van Zijl, Gerrit Th. Rietveld, Het volledige werk 1888-1964, Centraal Museum Utrecht, 1992. 2. Bertus Mulder, Gerrit Thomas Rietveld: Schets van zijn leven, denken en werken, Nijmegen, 1994. 3. Luca Dosi Delfini, The Furniture Collection Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam 1850-2000 From Michael Thonet to Marcel Wanders, Rotterdam/Amsterdam, 2004. 4. Ida van Zijl and Bertus Mulder, Het Rietveld Schröderhuis, Utrecht, 2009. 5. Ida van Zijl, Gerrit Rietveld, New York, 2010.
A green-painted whitewood and leather upright armchair 'bankstoeltje'


A green-painted whitewood and leather upright armchair 'bankstoeltje'
Designed by Gerrit Th. Rietveld (1888-1964), executed in Rietveld's workshop, most probably circa 1908
The square uprights joined by a later leather strap fastened with brass nails, square armsrests above a plank seat, the underside with a drawing probably depicting Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik of the Netherlands and later burned H.G.M./G.A.v.d.GROENEKAN/DE BILT NEDERLAND, on square legs joined by a square back stretcher, re-painted
80 cm. high x 60 cm. wide x 40 cm. deep, the back stretcher 20 cm. high, the seat 40 cm. high, the armrests 60 cm. high
Gerrit Th. Rietveld until 1961;
Bertus Mulder, Utrecht.
1. Page 61, cat. nr. 7, with illustration of one of the two examples in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht and with an illustration of a blueprint of a design drawing from ca. 1935 now in the Rietveld Schröder archive in Utrecht.
2. Page 90-91, with an incorrect drawing of the chair and an explanation about the measurements.
4. Page 18, with illustration of one of the two examples in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Mentioned here by the authors is that Rietveld designed this piece while he was still working with his father.
4. Page 80, with illustration of the interior of the Rietveld Schröder house at the time Truus Schröder still lived there, showing a bankstoeltje next to the bed.
4. Page 100, with a photograph of the apartment at Vredenburg by Nico Jesse in 1947. Here is visible a 'bankstoeltje' at the head of the dining table. Judging by its size this is not the chair here on offer.
5. Page 21, with illustration of one of the two examples in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. The chair is here referred to as Upright armchair.

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Lot Essay

"According to the catalogue of the exhibition of Rietveld's work in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht in 1958 -which Rietveld furnished himself- the first bankstoeltje is designed and made by Gerrit Rietveld in 1908.
It was his first experimental modern piece of furniture made with machine-sawn and planed components and systematically sized in multiples of 10 cm: 40 x 60 x 80 cm. I described the chair in Gerrit Thomas Rietveld "Leven Denken Werken", republished in 2010 under the title Gerrit Thomas Rietveld "Life Thought Work".
The chair here on offer comes from the part of Rietveld's household belongings that we have taken over when we moved into his home at Vredenburg 8bis in 1961. The chair stood in the shed on the terrace at the back of the apartment and was used by Rietveld as a saw bench.
The Rietveld Schröder Archive in the Centraal Museum has a drawing of the bankstoeltje by Rietveld. This drawing is inscribed with the address Oudegracht 55 Utrecht. This is where Rietveld's workshop was located since 1933 and the drawing should therefore be dated after 1933. The sizes of the chair on the drawing and of the chair on offer vary: 88 instead of 80 cm. high, 52 instead of 60 cm. wide, 44 instead of 40 cm. deep, seat height 44 instead of 40 cm., armrest 68 instead of 60 cm. high. Rietveld apperantly adapted the measurements to accomodate comfort. At least two of these chairs were executed with further adapted sizes: 85 instead of 88 cm. high, 55 instead of 52 cm. wide, 40 instead of 44 cm. deep, seat height 45.5 instead of 44 cm. and armrest 65 instead of 68 cm. Both are now in the Centraal Museum in Utrecht. Of one is indicated that it dates from 1908 and of the other that the design dates from 1908 and that is was executed by Gerard van de Groenekan in the 1950s (After 1924 Rietveld did not execute any furniture himself).
A bankstoeltje is visible on a photograph from circa 1947. This photo of Rietveld's interior at Vredenburg 8bis shows a staged scene with a table and other chairs which were normally not there. I assume that the chair here on offer was in the shed and could not appear on the photo because it was unpresentable. A bankstoeltje was on a Rietveld exhibition in the Centraal Museum in 1958. It is from this catalogue that the date 1908 and the name bankstoeltje derives.
A bankstoeltje is visible on a photograph of the interior of the Rietveld Schröder house. This photograph dates from the time that Truus Schröder still lived there.

On the underside of the seat that was removable is a drawing of Queen Wilhelmina and Prince Hendrik, who reigned from 1898 until 1948. Rietveld can be the one who made the drawing. Between 1904 and 1908 Rietveld attended - as a very talented pupil - an evening course at the Art Association of Industrial Education "The Utrechtsch Museum of Applied Arts", where he took lessons in drawing, proportion, style and ornament knowledge. Assuming he made the drawing, it must have been before he started his own workshop in 1917. Another possibility is that the drawing was added by one of Rietveld's children. Bep (Elisabeth Eskes-Rietveld (1913-1999)), the eldest daughter, drew and painted and received lessons from Charley Toorop in the late 1920s. Assuming she made the drawing, it must have been before 1932 when she was not living at Vredenburg anymore.
In my opinion there is every indication that the chair on offer is the experimental model that he made himself, and of which he subsequently adapted the design for practical use. It was in Rietveld's nature to regard the prototype as outdated and to use it for other purposes where it did not matter if this would cause any damage. With the prototype Rietveld experimented with machine production and with a modular size. The mechanical production method was further applied. The modular sizes were not, as they were unfit to use for a chair. Because there currently is no evidence to the contrary, it may be assumed that this was the first unique 'bankstoeltje'.

When Rietveld moved to Vredenburg 8 bis in Utrecht in 1937, he did no longer have a workshop and started to make maquettes and models at home. For cutting wood, you need a bench to enforce and with one knee you hold on. The armrests of the chair were the proper height and bore the traces and cuts. Rietveld had stained the chair green. This staining was very much damaged and the leather back was no longer present. In the 1980s I asked Gerard van de Groenekan to restore the chair. He then, without consulting me, painted the chair blue, probably because he judged the green colour not to be Rietveld-like and he burned his mark on the underside of the seat. I re-painted the chair in the 'original' green colour. The surface now has a denser structure than with the original staining. I have also fixed the removable seat with a few tacks.

This unique bench seat has an exciting history in which Gerrit Rietveld, Gerard van de Groenekan and I have played a role."

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