Important and early 'Chieftain' armchair, model no. FJ 49 A

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Copenhagen, early 1950s

  • Literature

    G.B. De Searpis, 'Finn Juhl, architetto danese', Domus, nos. 252-53, November-December 1950, p. 23
    Nona Triennale di Milano, exh. cat., Milan, 1951, p. 443
    Svend Erik Møller and Viggo Sten Møller, Dansk Møbelkunst, Københavns snedkerlaugs møbeludstilling 1927-1951, Copenhagen, 1951, p. 82
    Bent Salicath, ‘Finn Juhl and Danish Furniture’, Architects’ Year Book 6, London, 1955, pp. 145-46, 155
    Esbjørn Hiort, Modern Danish Furniture, New York, 1956, pp. 54-55
    Niels Vodder Furniture, Copenhagen, 1959, front cover, pp. 10-11
    Eva Hamilton, 'Modern design iG Gammal miljö', Svensk DAM, no. 11, 18 March, 1964, p. 41
    Grete Jalk, ed., Dansk Møbelkunst gennem 40 aar, Volume 3: 1947-1956, Copenhagen, 1987, pp. 124-25, 233, 311
    Patricia Yamada, ed., Finn Juhl Memorial Exhibition, exh. cat., Osaka, 1990, passim
    Esbjørn Hiort, Finn Juhl: Furniture, Architecture, Applied Art, Copenhagen, 1990, front cover, pp. 23, 40-41
    Martin Eidelberg, ed., Design 1935-1965: What Modern Was, New York, 1991, p. 187
    Irene de Guttry and Maria Paola Maino, Il Mobile Italiano Degli Anni '40 e '50, Bari, 1992, p. 47
    Noritsugu Oda, Danish Chairs, San Francisco, 1996, pp. 92-93
    Arne Karlsen, Danish Furniture Design: in the 20th Century, Volume 2, Copenhagen, 2007, pp. 106, 187-89
    Per H. Hansen, Finn Juhl and His House, Ostfildern, 2014, passim

  • Catalogue Essay

    In 1949 Finn Juhl designed the model ‘FJ 49 A’ armchair, which became primarily known as the ‘Chieftain’, a title rarely used by the architect as he referred to it as the ‘Big Chair’. When interviewed in 1981, by the Danish journalist Mike Rømer for ‘Space and Form’, about the ‘Chieftain’ Juhl reminisced over its moniker and revealed the following story: “King Frederik and Queen Ingrid used to be good enough to come and open our exhibitions, and afterwards they would make a round of the stands. When a journeyman cabinetmaker came in carrying the ‘Chair’, someone asked me what it was for. Jokingly I said it was for King Frederik. We quickly realized that we could neither call it the ‘King Chair’ nor the ‘King Frederik Chair’. The King had never requested this of us, and besides, we had never asked him. So I passed it off by saying it was for an African chief- and the name stuck with it. As a matter of fact, a photograph was taken of King Frederik in the chair”…

    The ‘Chieftain’ when first exhibited at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild was well received and described in Politiken as being ‘so full of life that it seems to be almost quivering with vitality. It is expensive and as delicate as a thoroughbred must be.’ Finn Juhl designed some of his finest cabinet made furniture for the Cabinetmakers’ Guild and the ‘Chieftain’ must be considered one of his most accomplished designs. Almost every year from the late 1930s to the early 1950s Juhl presented designs at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild that were executed by the master cabinetmaker Niels Vodder. The synergy and symbiosis of these two artistic characters created masterpieces of 20th century design.

    In discussing the master cabinetmaker Niels Vodder, the Danish architectural journalist Henrik Sten Møller refers to the cabinetmaker as an ‘original craftsman with a distinct sense of humour.’ He then goes further to explain possibly why Vodder would have ever agreed to collaborate with Juhl: ‘The reason why Niels Vodder became Finn Juhl’s cabinetmaker was that nobody else wanted to produce his furniture. They thought the furniture too strange and furthermore often technically complicated’ (Patricia Yamada, ed., Finn Juhl Memorial Exhibition, exh. cat., Osaka, 1990, p. 18). Although the collaboration between Juhl, then aged twenty-five, and Vodder began in 1937, it was not until the breakthrough period of 1944-1949 at the Cabinetmakers’ Guild in which Juhl began to incorporate his burgeoning organic and percipient approach towards furniture design. Professor Noritsuga Oda writes in his essay ‘My Recollections of Finn Juhl’ that “the seat and backs, now had become independent of the legs, making the chairs seem lighter – almost sculptures floating in air. Creative as they were, Juhl’s designs might not have been successful three-dimensional objects without the craftsmanship of the master cabinetmaker Niels Vodder”. The ‘Chieftain’ armchair features masterfully handcrafted, accentuated and organic stiles, produced in exquisite Bangkok Teak. The stiles support the shield-formed backrest whilst elegantly revealing the interstice between the seat and the load-bearing legs. The following statement by Juhl is manifested within the construction of the ‘Chieftain’: ‘I have always been interested in analysing a piece of furniture’s different parts, surely a consequence of my early excitement for Corbusier’s cubist architecture.’

  • Catalogue Essay

    芬‧祖爾於1949年設計《FJ 49 A》扶手椅,往後多被廣泛稱為《酋長椅》,芬‧祖爾自己卻把它稱為「大椅子」。1981年丹麥記者麥克‧羅默為《空間與形式》採訪祖爾,問到關於《酋長椅》的暱稱,祖爾透露了如下故事:「國王弗雷德里克和皇后英格麗德以往常來為我們的展覽開幕,並且隨後會參觀一圈。當一個剛出師的木匠拎著這個椅子的時候,有個人問我它是什麼。我略開玩笑地說這是為國王弗雷德里克做的。隨即我們意識到既不能叫它《國王椅》也不能叫做《國王弗雷德里克椅》,因為國王並沒有要求我們製作這張椅子,此外,我們也從來沒有問過他的意見。所以,我只好說這是為一位非洲酋長所製作的,這就是暱稱的由來。不過,倒是有一張國王弗雷德里克坐在這張椅子上的照片…」


    丹麥建築記者亨瑞克‧史坦‧摩勒把木匠大師尼爾斯‧弗德譽爲「具有獨特幽默感的原創型工匠」,並進一步解釋沃德與祖爾合作的原因:「尼爾斯‧弗德之所以成爲芬‧祖爾的傢俱匠師,是因爲沒有其他人願意生產他的傢俱。其他人都認爲他的傢俱形態過於奇怪而且製作工藝複雜。」(派翠莎‧山田編,《芬‧祖爾回顧展》展覽圖錄,大阪,1990年,第18頁)於1937年,彼時25歲的祖爾便開始與沃德合作,但直至1944 - 1949年於匠師協會的突破時期,祖爾才開始將其萌芽中的有機觀念和敏銳洞察融入傢俱設計。織田憲嗣教授於《芬‧祖爾回憶錄》一文中寫道「椅座和椅背游離於椅腿,使得椅子看上去更輕巧——猶如漂浮在空氣中的雕塑。祖爾的設計充滿創意,但假若沒有木匠大師尼爾斯‧弗德的精湛工藝,也無法變成如此成功的立體成品。」《酋長椅》的支架由曼谷柚木所製成,純手工製造,其形狀如有機物般自然又非常突出,除了支撐盾形墊背,也優雅地展露出椅墊與堅固椅腳之間的空隙。談論《酋長椅》的設計時,芬‧祖爾曾這樣說道:「我向來對分析家具的不同構成部件很感興趣,想必是因為我從年輕時就熱愛柯比意的立體派建築。」

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Finn Juhl

Important and early 'Chieftain' armchair, model no. FJ 49 A

designed 1949, produced early 1950s
Bangkok teak, leather
93.3 x 103 x 89 cm. (36 3/4 x 40 1/2 x 35 in.)
Executed by master cabinetmaker Niels Vodder, Copenhagen, Denmark. Underside branded and impressed NIELS VODDER CABINETMAKER/COPENHAGEN DENMARK. Designed in 1949, produced in early 1950s.

HK$500,000 - 800,000 

sold for HK$1,000,000

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20th Century & Contemporary Art & Design Evening Sale

Hong Kong Auction 27 May 2018