Gerrit Thomas Rietveld - Design New York Wednesday, December 17, 2014 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Metz & Co, Amsterdam
    Dr. Arend Isaäc Diepenhorst, Utrecht, the Netherlands, 1946
    Thence by descent to the present owners

  • Literature

    Marijke Küper and Ida van Zijl, Gerrit Th. Rietveld 1888-1964, The Complete Works, exh. cat., Centraal Museum, Utrecht, 1992, p. 211, cat. no. 337 for the design drawing, p. 222, cat. no. 369 for the entry on the original suite
    Peter Vöge, The Complete Rietveld Furniture, Rotterdam, 1993, p. 131, cat. no. 261 for the example in the permanent collection of the Centraal Museum, Utrecht
    Luca Dosi Delfini, The Furniture Collection, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam: 1850-2000: from Thonet to Marcel Wanders, Amsterdam, 2004, p. 321, cat. no. 512 for the chair in the permanent collection of the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present rare armchairs from the 1940s form a link between Gerrit Thomas Rietveld's prewar and postwar works. The white-stained short sides of the stretcher are an echo of Rietveld's youthful flirtation with De Stijl while the model is closely related to the metal "Beugelstoel" from 1927. The slender frame of bentwood shows the influence of Scandinavian and American design which would become the leading trend in Europe in the postwar years. Because of the metal shortage during and directly after the war, wooden furniture became a popular alternative. This design by Rietveld however did not become a commercial success; only four armchairs and a settee of this model are known. This complete set was purchased in 1946 at Metz & Co in Amsterdam by Professor Diepenhorst, together with furniture pieces by Alvar Aalto. The Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam acquired one armchair and the settee in 1986; Centraal Museum, Utrecht acquired another armchair at the same time. The remaining two armchairs (the present lots) have remained in the collection of the Diepenhorst family to this date.

  • Artist Biography

    Gerrit Thomas Rietveld

    Dutch • 1888 - 1964

    Gerrit Thomas Rietveld began as an apprentice in his father's cabinetmaking workshop, going on to train and work as a draftsman. In 1917 he started his own furniture-making workshop in Utrecht. Positive critical review by Theo van Doesburg in his journal De Stijl resulted in near-instantaneous influence on broader developments in European modernism. This connection to the De Stijl movement also inspired him to introduce color to the posts, rails and terminals of his furniture. His resulting "Red-blue" armchair is among the most iconic chair designs of the twentieth century.

    From the beginning, Rietveld embraced modernist principles of functionalism, simplicity of form and mass-production, and eventually moved away from De Stijl to become a member of the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM). Rietveld worked through the post-war years, completing a number of private residences, housing developments and institutions. He continued to design furniture for these commissions as well as for retailers like Metz & Co.

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Armchair, model no. R54

designed 1942, produced 1942-1946
Bent beechwood, plastic-covered springs, brass, fabric cushion.
29 x 23 5/8 x 34 1/4 in. (73.7 x 60 x 87 cm)
Produced and retailed by Metz & Co, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $18,750

Contact Specialist
Meaghan Roddy
Head of Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1266


New York Auction 17 December 2014 11am