Comtesse de Beaurepaire, Boulevard St. Germain des Pres, Paris
Bernard Steinitz, Paris
These seven door panels are extremely rare examples of Armand-Albert Rateau's work and reflect his brilliance in creating exotic and luxurious environments for his wealthy clients.
In 1924 at the height of Rateau's career, the Comtesse de Beaurepaire commissioned him to design her townhouse on the Boulevard St. Germain des Pres. This commission came just after Rateau had completed the interiors for Jeanne Lanvin's townhouse, today part of the permanent collection in the Musée des Arts Decoratifs, Paris. During the same time period, he also worked on the sublime suite of rooms for the Blumenthal's Château de Malbosc near Grasse in the south of France. In these previous commissions Rateau had free reign to design everything from wall coverings and furniture to door handles and faucets. For the Comtesse, however, he was obliged to incorporate his designs within a purely traditional existing décor. This special ability to blend his distinctly neo-classical, yet modern designs, with existing antique ensembles became the signature of much of Rateau's work and a measure of his brilliance.
These wonderfully crafted silver-leaf door panels were used throughout the Comtesse's townhouse to create a coherent atmosphere in conjunction with her existing Louis XV and Louis XVI furniture pieces. It is not known how many of these door panels were designed for the townhouse, but it is a miracle that any at all have survived because of the extremely delicate trompe-l'oeil workmanship and material that was involved.
Later in 1934 the Comtesse commissioned Rateau once again to design and furnish her townhouse this time on the Rue du Marechal Maunoury in Paris. It is possible that these same panels were either removed and stored in a warehouse or they were simply re-installed in the new residence.
Although Rateau used silver lacquer panels throughout his career, it is incredibly rare to find surviving examples remaining from this time period due to their fragile nature and also because such panels, unlike furniture, were often destroyed during demolition of an interior. Related examples have not come up at auction for many years.
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