caption: The Tardieu desk in situ in the 'study bedroom for a crown prince' in the 1929 Salon des Artistes Décorateurs.
caption: André Tardieu (Hulton Getty/Liaison Agency)
Post Lot Text
Ruhlmann completed the desk offered here, model number 1517, in his Atelier B in June 1929 and exhibited it at that year's Salon des Artistes Decorateurs in the study bedroom for a crown prince. Besides this black lacquer and metal desk, the ensemble included a bed and a modular bookcase, both of the same materials. A far cry from his very decorated, sometimes seemingly delicate pieces, this suite which depends on simplicity and proportions for its appeal was decidedly forward-looking. The inclusion of polished metal to contrast with a dark surface, in this case of lacquer, was a hallmark of the modernist aesthetic, and Ruhlmann employed the materials successfully. The desk in particular made an impact with its great size and commanding presence. It encapsulated all the needs of the modern professional as it included an attached adjustable lamp, glass-covered paper storage bins incorporated flush into the surface, a hinged waste basket, a bell push, and even a foot rest which also served as a foot warmer.Mostly known for his use of figured wood veneers, ivory inlays, and bronze ornaments to create harmonious pieces, Ruhlmann also embraced technological advances and design innovations. Although he initially collaborated with Jean Dunand to produce lacquered wood furniture, he incorporated modern lacquer-spraying equipment into his ateliers on Rue d'Ouessant after 1927 and manufactured lacquer and metal furniture that continued to demonstrate his characteristic elegance while simultaneously exuding modernity.Contemporary accounts of the Salon des Artistes Decorateurs exhibition described Ruhlmann's contribution favorably, stating that each piece maintained the elegance and aptness of proportions for which the maker was known (Rene Chavance, "Le XIXe Salon des Artistes Decorateurs," Art et Decoration (July 1929): 8). Andre Tardieu, who would on three occasions become premier of France, purchased the desk and henceforth his name has been associated with it.The Tardieu desk offered here served as a prototype for a few subsequent examples of this model, including one Ruhlmann made for his own Rue Lisbonne office in Macassar ebony. The Maharaja of Indore, whose furniture was mostly of Macassar ebony, ordered a desk in that material as well. Another desk in black lacquer, but without the letter bins, was made in 1929 for the South American client Mr. Hotschild, and in 1930 Paul Rodier commissioned the model in light oak. Ruhlmann's production of these grand desks, limited to special commissions, illustrates his success in combining timeless design, quality craftsmanship, and the modernist aesthetic.This lot is sold with the original invoice.