The Swiss-born Jean Dunand (1877-1942) is renowned today for his superb dinanderie vessels and spectacular work in lacquer. Trained as a sculptor, he began creating mixed metal vessels circa 1905. Beginning in 1912, he studied the ancient and laborious technique of lacquer with the skilled Japanese craftsman Sugawara, who had also taught the art of lacquer to the innovative Parisian designer, Eileen Gray. Dunand at first used lacquer on his metalwork, enhancing his vessels, boxes and jewelry with brilliant colors and bold designs.
Following World War I, he began applying lacquer to wooden forms, such as tables, decorative panels and screens, and on rare occasions, beds. This gold lacquered bed displays Dunand's characteristically imaginative and stylized design. It is one of only three documented beds created by Dunand. The other known examples were both executed in black lacquer, one depicting marine life, the other depicting lotus, both with fish "swimming" across the foot (for an illustration of these models, see Felix Marcilhac, Jean Dunand, His Life and Work, 1994, figures 514 and 515).
Jean Dunand's work was recently the subject of a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (May 23-October 29, 1998) entitled Jean Dunand: Master of Art Deco.