Jean Royère - Design New York Wednesday, December 7, 2022 | Phillips
  • The sinusoidal metal lines of Jean Royère’s Ondulation is just one of his famous motifs that helped revolutionize the notions of ornament and purpose in modern design. Entirely self-taught, Royère introduced the idea that ornament could work its way into the very foundation of a piece of furniture, as opposed to existing solely as embellishment, an innovation that would change the trajectory of modern design and position Royère as a leading figure in the field.


    Jean Royère’s living room on the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré in Paris, 1947. Credit to come.
    Jean Royère’s living room on the rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré in Paris, 1947.
    Artwork © 2022 Estate of Jean Royère / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

    Royère’s most renowned work came about in response to a break with functionalism. Royère expressed a different kind of modernity, abandoning the coldness and lack of embellishment that was usually associated with the style. It was this deviation that made Royère’s work unique and what made it so desirable. Inspired by the work of designers like Gio Ponti and Alvar Aalto, Royère cultivated a warmer, more human kind of modernism. It was probably during a visit to Josef Frank’s shop in Stockholm, Svenskt Tenn, where he had been exhibiting his textiles and furniture laden with meandering abstract vegetal patterns, that Royère picked up the inspiration for some of his own treatment of line and form. But despite the influence of his predecessors, Royère developed a personal aesthetic and version of ornament that did not adhere to a particular style or tradition of the past.


    Like Frank, Royère played with line and abstraction, developing several recognizable motifs which he incorporated into almost all aspects of his work. One of Royère’s most famous motifs is the Ondulation. With its elliptical metal curves, often with spheres that appear to move up and down the lines, the Ondulation became a pattern characteristic of Royère’s work, but also one that would be replicated by other designers, completely shifting the ways ornament and function intersect.

    • Provenance

      DeLorenzo 1950, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1989

    • Literature

      Gaston Poulain, "Le Salon d'Automne," Mobilier et Décoration, October 1946, p. 31
      Jean Royère, décorateur à Paris, exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1999, p. 25
      Galerie Jacques Lacoste and Galerie Patrick Seguin, Jean Royère, Volume 1, Paris, 2012, pp. 37, 142, 169, 241
      Galerie Jacques Lacoste and Galerie Patrick Seguin, Jean Royère, Volume 2, Paris, 2012, pp. 39, 151
      Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean Royère, Paris, 2017, pp. 110, 167

    • 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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Property from a Notable New York Collection


"Ondulation" table lamp

circa 1942
Patinated iron, brass, Belgian black stone, paper shade.
16 1/4 in. (41.3 cm) high

Full Cataloguing

$30,000 - 50,000 

Sold for $47,880

Contact Specialist

Benjamin Green
Associate Specialist

Associate Head of Sale
+1 917 207 9090



New York Auction 7 December 2022