Jean Royère - Design New York Wednesday, June 3, 2009 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Private Collection, Lebanon

  • Literature

    Yvonne Brunhammer, Le Mobilier Français 1930-1960, Paris, 1997, p. 139 for a drawing; Jean Royère, exh. cat., Galerie Jacques Lacoste, Paris, 1999, pp. 24, 40, 63 and 83-85; Jean Royère, Décorateur à Paris, exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1999, pp. 9-10, 25, 41, 60, 63, 70-72, 76, 161, 165 and pp. 12, 115, 122-123 125 for drawings; Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean Royère, Paris, 2002, pp. 45, 143, 210-211, 226-229, 231-232, 247, 266, 285, 291 and pp. 15 and 233 for drawings

  • Catalogue Essay

    After the doldrums of war, European furniture of the 1950s perked up: seats swelled; silhouettes swung out of bounds. The geometric rigors of Modernism succumbed to cants, curves, and playful biomorphs: Serge Mouille’s insect lamps, alert on spindle legs, threatened to walk away; Carlo Mollino’s sculpted chairs, pitched at dangerous angles, never sat still. In an undated graphite drawing, Mollino sketched a gazelle in flight, a telling inspiration. French designer Jean Royère added to the menagerie; his silhouettes drew inspiration from surrealism and from the natural world: "Polar Bears," "Elephants," "Eggs," and "Bananas," an unexpected bunch. Royère enlivened his furniture with playful names, robust volumes, and elaborate upholstery, as in the present lot. He first exhibited a similar canapé at "La Résidence Française," a 1947 Paris show organized by the magazine Art et Industrie. In Jean Royère (Galerie de Beyrie, 2000), collector Michael Boyd wrote: “There is a serious sculptural content imbued—but there is a playful, even humorous side, too.” Simply put, Royère cracked a good joke. But Boyd is right, Royère modeled in the round. In the present sofa, the horizontal sweep of the frame is mimicked by a vertical one: the broad slope of the back into the arms, a continuous curve. The sofa’s shapely lines offer surprising lightness and grace—it’s no elephant in the room. 

  • Artist Biography

    Jean Royère

    French • 1902 - 1981

    Jean Royère took on the mantle of the great artistes décorateurs of 1940s France and ran with it into the second half of the twentieth century. Often perceived as outside of the modernist trajectory ascribed to twentieth-century design, Royère was nonetheless informed by and enormously influential to his peers. Having opened a store in Paris in 1943 before the war had ended, he was one of the first to promote a new way of life through interior decoration, and his lively approach found an international audience early on in his career.

    In addition to commissions in Europe and South America, Royère had a strong business in the Middle East where he famously designed homes for the Shah of Iran, King Farouk of Egypt and King Hussein of Jordan. The surrealist humor and artist's thoughtful restraint that he brought to his furniture designs continue to draw admiration to this day.

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Rare “Ours Polaire” sofa

ca. 1950
Oak, fabric.
31 x 93 x 54 in. (78.7 x 236.2 x 137.2 cm.)

$180,000 - 220,000 

Sold for $194,500


3 June 2009, 11am
New York