Marcel Coard belongs to that elite and uniquely gifted group of avant garde designers of the 1920s whose work at the time was known to only a few, appreciated by even fewer, and which even today continues to defy classification. That group included Pierre Legrain, Eileen Gray, Rose Adler, Gustav Miklos and Marcel Coard, designers all united by their patronage by that most visionary of collectors, Jacques Doucet. Doucet's studio at Neuilly, decorated and furnished between 1927 and his death in 1929, was perhaps the single most important assemblage of contemporary works of fine and decorative art of the day. Works by Degas, Van Gogh, 'Douanier' Rousseau, Braque, Picasso and Modigliani were displayed alongside African and Oceanic art, and Doucet inspired designers such as Coard, Gray and Legrain to create fitting furnishings for this richly ethnic environment. Utilizing exotic materials such as ivory, parchment, lacquer and lapiz lazuli, or taking a more direct inspiration from African and Oceanic art, the results are always startling in their modernity, their opulence and their complete lack of reference to prevailing taste and styles.
Coard undertook commissions for a very select group of patrons and Doucet inspired by far his greatest single body of work for his Neuilly studio. He rarely if ever participated in salons and exhibitions, and his creations received scant notice at the time. Coard is still for the most part known only from public collections - most notably the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris - and it is rare to find examples of his work offered at auction.
The initial origin of the present stool is unclear. The piece bears comparison with the 1932 table in oak made by Coard for Paul Cocteau, although the possibility also remains that it was part of Jacques Doucet's magnificent Neuilly interior.
Hélène Rochas' collection, of which the present stool was once a part, was formed predominently in the 1960s and 1970s, very much evoking the spirit of Doucet with works by Coard, Legrain, Eileen Gray and Gustav Miklos prominently represented.