Finn Juhl - Modern Masters London Tuesday, April 26, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Cabinetmakers’ Guild, Kunstindustrimuseet, Copenhagen, 1944
    Finn Juhl and Inge-Marie Skaarup, Denmark
    Inge-Marie Skaarup, Frederiksberg, Denmark
    Acquired from the above by Niels Vodder Jnr, Copenhagen, 1988

  • Exhibited

    'Copenhagen Cabinetmakers’ Guild', Kunstindustrimuseet, Copenhagen, 29 September–15 October, 1944, stand 23

  • Literature

    Svend Erik Møller and Viggo Sten Møller, Dansk Møbelkunst, Københavns snedkerlaugs møbeludstilling 1927-1951, Copenhagen, 1951, illustrated p. 83
    Grete Jalk, ed., Dansk Møbelkunst gennem 40 aar, Volume 2: 1937-1946, Copenhagen, 1987, illustrated p. 247
    Per H. Hansen, Finn Juhl and His House, Ostfildern, 2014, illustrated p. 27

  • Catalogue Essay

    The important and unique ‘FJ44’ extendable dining table was designed by the Danish architect Finn Juhl and executed by the master cabinetmaker Niels Vodder for the Cabinetmakers’ Guild, held at the Kunstindustrimuseet, Copenhagen where it was first exhibited in 1944. From 1944 to 1949, Finn Juhl designed some of his finest furniture, from the ‘FJ44’ armchair described by one critic as having ‘a sculptural form which apparently strains the wood to its upmost limits’ to the ‘FJ49’ armchair also known as the ‘Chieftain’. The synergy and symbiosis of these two characters created furniture that is now considered iconic 20th century design.

    Although the collaboration between Juhl, then aged twenty-five, and Vodder began in 1937, it was not until the breakthrough of the 1944 Cabinetmakers’ Guild in which Juhl began to incorporate his burgeoning organic and percipient approach towards furniture design. The ‘FJ44’ dining table demonstrates through the exquisite use of colour and materials its accentuated planes that support the extension leaves, while elegantly revealing the interstice between the folding-hinged arms and load-bearing legs. The following statement by Juhl is manifested within the construction of the table and he also references the influence of Le Corbusier: ‘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, in which colours and materials accentuate different planes and load-bearing parts’ (Per H. Hansen, Finn Juhl and His House, Ostfildern, 2014, p. 34). These distinctive, yet brief comments by Juhl amplify his pragmatic approach and reveal architectural principles, which are then applied to the design of the present lot.

    Always an original contributor to the ‘Cabinetmaker’s Guild’, Juhl would receive many favourable responses from the critics: ‘It does seem, however, as if the tendency to exaggerate which used to characterise his furniture has been supressed so that everything seems more restrained’ (Grete Jalk, ed., Dansk Møbelkunst gennem 40 aar, Volume 2: 1937-1946, Copenhagen, 1987, p. 246). The above statement is a reference made in regards to the Living-dining room in which the ‘FJ44’ dining table is from and another critic makes a specific comment that the ‘dining table was a new and interesting kind of extension table’ (ibid). The period photograph from the ‘Cabinetmaker’s Guild’ displays the present lot flanked by five beautifully-crafted ‘FJ44’ armchairs, the combination of which asserts the importance of the work. There is one other known later example of the present lot, which was originally owned by Hanne Middelboe who then loaned the work to the Designmuseum, Denmark for the Finn Juhl retrospective exhibition in 1982. The present lot is executed in Cuban mahogany, has painted surfaces and is larger than the later example, which was produced in teak and has Formica instead of the elegantly painted surfaces. Regarding these differences it can be concluded that the present lot from the original ‘Cabinetmaker’s Guild’ exhibition is unique.

    In discussing 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 had 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).

    Finn Juhl was always eager to assert that he functioned as an autodidact when designing furniture and that he was never formally trained. Finn Juhl does not imitate profundity; he does not leave us masterpieces of modern furniture but masterpieces of modern design. Edgar Kaufmann, Jr., whom Finn Juhl worked with extensively, reflects upon the architect in his essay, 'Product and Process': ‘His forms are masterful, now as when they were new. They are capable of a plenitude of embodiments still unexplored. Juhl is no performer, he is a creator. We need more of him’ (Ibid, Finn Juhl Memorial Exhibition, p. 13).

Property from the collection of Niels Vodder Jr.


Unique and important extendable dining table, model no. FJ 44, designed for the 'Copenhagen Cabinetmakers' Guild' exhibition

Cuban mahogany-oak veneered wood, Cuban mahogany, painted Cuban mahogany, Oregon pine, brass.
73.7 x 295 x 83.8 cm (29 x 116 1/8 x 32 7/8 in.) fully extended
Executed by master mabinetmaker Niels Vodder, Copenhagen, Denmark.

£100,000 - 150,000 

Sold for £98,500

Contact Specialist
Madalena Horta e Costa
Head of Sale
+44 20 7318 4019

Modern Masters

London Auction 27 April 2016