Jean-Michel Frank - Design Evening Sale New York Tuesday, December 13, 2016 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Jean-Pierre Guerlain, avenue Hoche, Paris, circa 1935
    Jacques Grange, Paris, circa 1996
    Acquired from the above by the present owner, 1998

  • Literature

    Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Adolphe Chanaux, Paris, 1997, illustrated pp. 140-41
    Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier, Jean-Michel Frank: The Strange and Subtle Luxury of the Parisian Haute-Monde in the Art Deco Period, New York, 2006, illustrated pp. 165-66

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present two high-backed chairs belonged to a famed suite of furniture commissioned circa 1935 by perfume executive Jean-Pierre Guerlain (1905-1996) from designer Jean-Michel Frank, then the rage in Paris. Although no “nose” (it was his uncle Jacques who composed Shalimar, Mitsouko, and Vol de Nuit), the younger Guerlain was for a half century the family firm’s managerial stalwart, rising to chief executive in 1970. Shortly after he joined the company as associate director in 1933, he commissioned Frank to design a new apartment on the avenue Hoche during a period concurrent with Frank’s decoration of the Guerlain shop on place Vêndome.

    Noted for its modish emptiness, Guerlain’s apartment was enlivened by muscular tenants: a Flemish tapestry; a shell-form plaster floor lamp gadrooned by Alberto Giacometti; and a selection of works by Frank including a long set of twelve side chairs (among them the present two) in a restrained Louis XVI style—no laurel leaf, no wreath. Frank pulled up the chairs to an imposing refectory table which he had fashioned from a severe slab of oak and thick bracket legs; in its cartoon billows, the table seemed to devour a repast of periods past and future, from Renaissance roast to postmodern pudding. Frank was nothing if not a voracious epicure of influences. In their referential restraint, these two chairs are a prime example of his reaction against the frivolity of Art Deco through his deft updating of past styles in service to his own brand of modernism, much as the neoclassicism of Louis XVI meant to straighten rococo curves.

  • Artist Biography

    Jean-Michel Frank

    French • 1895 - 1941

    Working in Paris, New York and Argentina, Jean-Michel Frank designed subtle, exquisitely proportioned furniture and lighting for sophisticated interiors. His elite roster of patrons included the vicomte Charles de Noailles, the businessman and politician Nelson A. Rockefeller, the couturier Elsa Schiaparelli and the perfumer Guerlain, among many others. Against the backdrop of the interwar period, Frank designed calm, subdued interiors that offered refuge from the chaotic world. His furniture, which was often clad in vellum, bleached leather or shagreen, featured clean lines and served to complement the art collections of his clients, which included works by Picasso, Léger and Matisse.

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Property from a Private Collection


Important pair of side chairs, from the Jean-Pierre Guerlain apartment, Paris

circa 1935
Oak, leather.
Each: 39 1/2 x 20 1/2 x 25 1/2 in. (100.3 x 52.1 x 64.8 cm)
Produced by Chanaux & Company, Paris, France. Underside of each impressed CHANAUX & Co J.M. FRANK 15538. Together with a certificate of authenticity from the Comité Jean-Michel Frank.

$20,000 - 30,000 

Sold for $47,500

Contact Specialist
Cordelia Lembo
Specialist, Head of Sale
+1 212 940 1265

Design Evening Sale

New York Auction 13 December 2016