cf. Jean Badovivi, 'Eileen Gray', Special Issue of Wendingen, 1924, unpaginated; J. Stewart Johnson, Eileen Gray: Designer 1879-1976, pp. 32-33 and Peter Adam, Eileen Gray, Architect/Designer, 1987, p. 132 (see p. 388, fig. 145 for citation of the design) for a period photograph of Gray's Monte Carlo room, the Bedroom-boudoir, exhibited in the XIV Salon des Artistes Dcorateurs, 1923, which features another example of the floor lamp model; Frederick R. Brandt, Late 19th and Early 20th Century Decorative Arts, The Sydney and Frances Lewis Collection in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, 1985, p. 171, fig. 65 for the Monte Carlo room floor lamp model; Yvonne Brunhammer, Cinquantenaire de l'Exposition de 1925 (exh. cat.), 1976, p. 74, fig. 487 for a citation of the Monte Carlo floor lamp.
In 1923, the Irish born designer Eileen Gray (1878-1976) was chosen to design the interior of a room for the XIV Salon des Artistes Dcorateurs in Paris. Gray, who had decorated an array of interiors, in particular a bedroom-boudoir for Madame Mathieu-Levy, and who had designed lacquer furniture, embarked on an ambitious project for the Salon.
The combination of a bedroom/living space personally appealed to Gray, and she decided to design a Bedroom-Boudoir for Monte Carlo, giving it a more exotic and current theme with an underlying Riviera flavor. The formula used for the room's design was Gray's classic assemblage of objects, creating her hallmark progressive style: a sofa covered with fur, a black lacquered sofa with white plaster legs, a black lacquered desk, her famous lacquered panel screen and ceiling light with blue and silver glass, and a group of parchment wall lights and a lacquered wood and parchment floor lamp with its radical design creating quite a stir with critics during the exhibition.
The present floor lamp is one of a total of three lamps. The other examples include the floor lamp made for the Monte Carlo room, the Bedroom-Boudoir, presently in the Lewis Collection in the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, with a replaced vellum shade, and the floor lamp created for Gray's friend Damia, presently in a New York private collection, which also has a replaced shade. The present example is the only known surviving example with its original decorated shade.
The overall design with its radical form and materials marks this lamp as one of Gray's most progressive designs of this period. The sub-structure is beautifully detailed with a subtle design of lacquer covering parts of the base and is mixed with an interplay of various lighter and darker wood stains. Offset by triangular fin-shaped supports is an oblong removable standard supporting a cubist-inspired vellum shade. This shade is decorated with a painted abstract motif heightened with small holes, incorporated into the overall scheme of planes and lines. All segments are stitched together by natural bleached raffia.
Gray's awareness of Oceanic art and its influence on the cubist and surrealist movements are reflected in the design of the lamp, as is the influence of the Dutch de Stijl movement. Holland, at that time, had a sophisticated understanding of the Avant Garde and, after the reproduction of the Monte Carlo room in the Dutch architectural magazine Bouwkundig Weekblad, the architect Sybold van Ravsteyn commented in his review that "...originality is not one of the greatest aspects of French furniture designers:...however, coming as a surprise, there was also freshness. A room by Mlle. Eileen Gray touches us more and expresses balance between 'searching' and 'finding'. The relationship with 'De Stijl' is eye-catching, less orthodox, less pure: French virtues have not been disregarded and feminine frivolity makes itself felt. The work heralds the arrival of a Louis-free tendency even in France..."