Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ruhlmann Revisited

In my last post I considered Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, a designer working almost 100 years ago in Paris, France. Contemporary copies of his work are available in the United States, underscoring the endurance of his design and style.
He has floated with me all week, and there are a few more images relating to Monsieur Ruhlmann that I'd like to share.
I don't believe it's easy to pick up a piece of Jacques-Emile at your local Adelaide thrift shop. This is a shame, as I have spent a fair bit of time looking and have consoled myself with naive Australian landscape paintings and cut glass compote dishes instead.
Nonetheless, some fortunate people have managed to come by the odd stick - European Fine Art Auctioneers are probably a better hunting ground - and one such collector has installed his early 20th Century furniture and objects in a French castle.
The romantic Chateau de Gourdon in Provence is a place you can visit (and stay, if you fancy one of the Gites) and where, incongruously enough, you can immerse yourself in both a 1620 French castle and Modernist Art.

I read about Gourdon in the British edition of House and Garden (November 2007), which I used to supply most of these photographs. The current owner of the property sounds as eccentric and glamorous as his castle; young, energetic and charming, apparently, and based in Milan. His father inherited Gourdon from a Miss Norris, an American who bought the place in the 1920s.
Do you recognise Ruhlmann's Colonnettes dressing table in the bedroom above? It is Macasser ebony with a plate glass top. See my last post for the copy Pollaro are making in the States today.

The bedroom above is furnished with pieces by Francis Jourdain.

In the dining room, a strong Mallet-Stevens lacquered dining table is balanced by delicate Eckart Muthesius glass furniture.

A Ruhlmann black lacquered sofa underpins The Archer, by Adriaan Joh van't Hoff, inspired by the 1926 Olympics. [Who says sport isn't political? Go Tibet, I say.]

On the whole, the juxtaposition of seventeenth and twentieth centuries works, although some of the more avant garde pieces are a little confronting.

As an end note, it recently struck me just how much Smallbone is currently referencing Ruhlmann's essence. Note the tapered chair legs and the cross banding on the cupboard doors. Their walnut and silver kitchens, too, echo his use of dark woods, graceful detailing and curves.

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