Lot 6
  • 6

Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann

300,000 - 400,000 GBP
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  • Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann
  • Bureau `Boudoir du Collectionneur'
  • American burr walnut veneer over oak frame, ivory
  • 100x85 cm H.74 cm
branded `Ruhlmann' and for the atelier `B'


Rueff collection
Alain Lesieutre, Paris
Sale: Ader Picard Tajan, Paris, Collection Alain Lesieutre, 13 December 1989, lot 382
Acquired directly from the above


Paris, Le Louvre des Antiquaires, 1930 Quand le Meuble Devient Sculpture, 1981, cat. no. 2
Leipzig, Museum der Bildenden Künste, Gunter Sachs, 2008, pp. 126, 133 & 135  

The model exhibited:
Paris, XIV Salon des Artistes Décorateurs, 1923, no. 619
Paris, Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, `L'Hôtel du Collectionneur', 1925
Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, E.-J Ruhlmann: Exposition Retrospective, 1934, no. 35
Paris, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Le décor de la vie de 1900 à 1925, 1937, cat. no. 767
Paris, Musée d'art moderne de la ville de Paris, Meubles, 1920-1937, 1986, pp. 66-67, version in amaranthe exhibited
Boulogne-Billancourt, Musée des Années 30, Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts, Ruhlmann un génie de l'art déco, 2002, cat. no. 14, pp. 162-163, version in macassar ebony exhibited
Boulogne-Billancourt, Musée des Années 30, Montréal, Musée des Beaux-Arts, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ruhlmann Genius of Art Deco, 2002 & 2004, cat. no. 14, pp. 190-191 & 290, version in amaranth exhibited
Lisbon, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann et le Fraternité des Arts, 2009, p. 124, version in amaranthe exhibited



René Chavance, `Le XIVème Salon des Artistes Décorateurs', Art et Décoration, January-June 1923, vol. XLIII, pp. 180-181
P. Valdenaire, `Le Meuble Moderne à l'Esposition des Arts Décoratifs', A.B.C. Magazine d'Art, August 1925, p. 26, photograph of the boudoir of the `Hôtel du Collectionneur'  
G. Rémon, `Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs. Le Meuble', L'Art Vivant, 15 September 1925, p. 20
H. Clouzot, `Le meuble français moderne', L'illustration, 19 September 1925, drawing of the boudoir of the `Hôtel du Collectionneur'
Léon Deshairs, `L'Hôtel du Collectionneur: Groupe Ruhlmann', Paris, 1926, pls XV & XVI
H. Clouzot, `Le miracle du mobilier français', L'illustration, 30 June 1928, pp. 687-690, drawing of the boudoir of the `Hôtel du Collectionneur' Meubles et Décors, November 1966, no. 826, p. 63, no. 2
Yvonne Brunhammer, Les Années `25' Collections du Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1966, pp. 70-71, no. 655, version in macassar ebony
Alain Lesieutre, The Spirit and Splendour of Art Deco, London, 1974, p. 130, no. 109, for a project for the `Hôtel du Collectionneur', and p. 141, no. 115, this lot illustrated (incorrectly captioned as macassar ebony) 
Yvonne Brunhammer, Le Style 1925, Paris, n.d., p. 20
Pierre Kjellberg, Art Déco, Les Maîtres du Mobilier, Paris, n.d., pp. 14 & 155, version in macassar ebony
Victor Arwas, Art Deco, London, 1980, pp. 58-5,9 version in macassar ebon
Florence Camard, Ruhlmann, Paris, 1983, p. 43, detail of a version in macassar ebony illustrated, p. 180, gouache for the state bedroom of Jane Renouardt, director of the Théâtre Daunou, dated 1927-28, from the presentation album `Intimité no. 4' including a desk of this model, p. 224 working drawing dated `13 Avril 1922', & p. 287
Alastair Duncan, Art Deco Furniture: The French Designers, London, 1984, ill. 57, p. 108
Benjamin Loyauté, `Ruhlmann', Connaissance des Arts, hors-série, no. 171, 2001, p. 27
`Ruhlmann génie de l'Art Déco', L'Estampille l'Objet d'Art, hors-série, 2001, pp. 32-33, version in macassar ebony
Alastair Duncan, Authentic Art Deco Interiors from the 1925 Paris exhibition Maurice Dufrène, Woodbridge, 2002, pl. 37, pp. 102-103
Emmanuel Bréon & Rosalind Pepall, Ruhlmann Genius of Art Deco, Musée des Années 30, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 2004, pp. 25, 47, & 135 
Emmanuel Bréon, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, Furniture, the designer's archives, Paris, 2004, p. 31
Florence Camard, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, Saint-Rémy-en-l'Eau, 2009, pp. 179-180, 182, 184-185, version in burr walnut illustrated, pp. 332 & 399, period photograph of the `Dubly' interior reproduced


Good overall condition. Piece has been restored, though not recently, and a new suede interior fitted which is now worn and marked, the suede to the shelves, two drawers and door is worn and torn and has moved which slightly impedes the smooth running of the tambour front. An area to the wood has been restored where the lock enters the tamour front, and there are small repairs too to areas on the side. The back has traces of dirt. One small element of ivory is missing from the front left (facing) inner leg (visible in catalogue illustration) and another small element is missing from the top dentil frieze, and the two volutes at the top of the front legs. Elsewhere there is a crack to the outer edge of the lock of the ivory lock plate and a couple of other cracks within the ivory of the dentil frieze. Nonetheless a beautiful delicate desk with rich, contrasting veneers.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Ruhlmann's elegant rolltop desk was first exhibited at the XIVth Salon des Artistes Décorateurs in 1923.  It was admired by the contemporary journalist René Chavance who wrote `Mr. Ruhlmann is exhibiting a roll-top desk whose very deliberate presentation, between two lamps, brings out its preciousness.  The piece is indeed excellent, its form not so very different from that of the graceful Louis XV writing desks.  The ornamentation though is luxuriously austere ... and very modern in spirit', Art et Décoration, January-June 1923, p. 180 (Chavance in Bréon & Pepall, 2004, op. cit., p. 190).

Two year later Ruhlmann incorporated the design into the most ambitious and lush interior of his career. The `Hôtel du Collectionneur' at the Paris 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes was unquestionably Ruhlmann's masterwork, for which he adopted a challenging role combining designer, draftsman and producer, working with a carefully selected group of almost fifty artists and thirty manufacturers.  The project had been in preparation since as early as 1919 and Ruhlmann collaborated with many of the prominent designers of the day, including Edgar Brandt for wrought iron, François Décorchemont and Maurice Marinot for works in glass, and Jean Dunand for lacquerwork.  A sumptuous album, published in 1926, documented the project with an introduction by Léon Deshairs - curator of the Bibliothèque des Arts Décoratifs.  The photographs, drawings and gouaches are evidence of the extraordinary work that Ruhlmann created, unanimously chosen by critics as the show's most spectacular exhibit, which had been visited by millions.

A macassar and ivory example of the bureau was the centrepiece of the scheme for the boudoir in the `Hôtel du Collectionneur'. Though perhaps more at ease concocting schemes of immense and grand scale, Ruhlmann designed the oval room in the spirit of small eighteenth-century private apartments. Divided from the bedroom by the hall, the boudoir had the feel of an exquisite jewel-box with sea-green panelling off-set by gold and white highlights.  Enhancing the feeling of intimacy in the room, Ruhlmann placed an `Oreilles cassées' armchair, also in macassar ebony and upholstered in grey silk damask, close to the bureau which was coupled with a macassar ebony `Tivo' desk chair.  The desk is once more a study in meticulous craftsmanship and refined elegance.  As with all of his furniture, variants are known in differing veneers, a version executed in macassar ebony is in the collection of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris (inv. 25613), cf. Brunhammer, 1966, op. cit., pp. 70-71, and another, in amaranth, is in the collection of the Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (inv. AMOA 442), cf. Boulogne-Billancourt, 2002 & 2004, op. cit., pp. 190-191.