The lamps in the following two lots were made in London as part of a documented and significant collaboration between the brothers Alberto and Diego Giacometti, working in close association with Jean-Michel Frank, and the inspired and influential British decorator Syrie Maugham, wife of author Somerset Maugham. When she decided to work as a decorator in the mid-1920s, Syrie Maugham's combination of considerable visual flair and excellent social connections situated her swiftly at the very top of her profession. She attracted illustrious clients both sides of the Atlantic, including members of the British aristocracy, among them Lady Jersey, Lady Milbanke and Lady Plunket, and the prominent American couple Mr. and Mrs. Harrison Williams.
Syrie Maugham sensed a kindred spirit in the French decorator-designer Jean-Michel Frank. She appreciated the understated refinement of his style and introduced the designs of his circle, including the Giacometti brothers and Serge Roche, to a new audience. Against the prevailing patterns of conservatism, Maugham worked with her clients to bring a breath of fresh air to the British interior. She is best known for an 'all white' scheme - in fact an understated harmony of off-whites, subtly enhanced by the use of contrasting textures and broken reflections in thin strips of mirror - published in The Studio in February 1933. Her fondness for white and off-white inspired her use of works in plaster within her schemes, as evidenced notably in the dining room of The Pavilion, the country villa between Banbury and London that she decorated for herself in the mid-1930s. Among the designs that she incorporated in her repertoire were the present figural column lamp bases which Alberto and Diego Giacometti had made specifically for her and her clients.
A PLASTER LAMP BASE, 1930S
ALBERTO (1901-1966) AND DIEGO (1902-1985) GIACOMETTI
A Plaster Lamp Base, 1930s
21½ in. (55 cm.) high
marked MADE IN ENGLAND FOR SYRIE MAUGHAM
Syrie Maugham, London.
Christie's, London, 22 March 1983, lot 277.
In the same Private European Collection since that date.