Lot 7
  • 7

Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann

300,000 - 500,000 GBP
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  • Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann
  • 'Spirales' daybed
  • burr walnut veneer over oak frame, silvered bronze, ivory
  • 49.5cm x 206cm x 97cm
branded 'Ruhlmann' three times, numbered 'Exp. no. 2', dated '1933', and branded for the atelier 'A' twice and another half-struck 'A'


Alain Lesieutre, Paris
Sale: Ader Picard Tajan, Paris, Collection Alain Lesieutre, 13 December 1989, lot 347
Acquired directly from the above


Émile-Bayard, L'art appliqué français d'aujourd'hui', Paris, 1925, p. 15, version with angled front in a vintage photograph of the salon in the residence of Emile Molinié
André Fréchet, `J. Ruhlmann', Mobilier et Décoration d'Intérieur, 1924, p. 13
Léon Moussinac, Intérieurs, vol. 1, Paris, 1924, pl. 36, another closely comparable model in a vintage photograph of the salon in the residence of Emile Molinié
Alain Lesieutre, The Spirit and Splendour of Art Deco, London, 1974, p. 137, no. 111, this lot illustrated
Yvonne Brunhammer, Le Style 1925, Paris, n.d., pp. 54 & 101, this lot illustrated
Victor Arwas, Art Deco, London, 1980, p. 61, this lot illustrated
Florence Camard, Ruhlmann, Paris, 1983, pp. 64-65, this lot illustrated
Yvonne Brunhammer, The Art Déco Style, London, 1984, no. 86, pp. 48 & 92
Alastair Duncan, Art Deco Furniture: The French Designers, London, 1984, pl. 212, p. 150
Emmanuel Bréon & Rosalind Pepall, Ruhlmann Genius of Art Deco,
Musée des Années 30, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, exhibition catalogue, Paris, 2004, cat. nos 10 & 201, pp. 171, 289, & 315, version with angled front in palissander
Florence Camard, Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann, Saint-Rémy-en-l'Eau, 2009, p. 93, version with angled front in macassar ebony, & p. 107, version with angled front in amboyna burl



Good condition overall. Some general drying out of the varnish, particularly to the lower front edge and the proper left side. Proper left outside and inside back with scattered moisture marks. General colour of wood lightly bleached, slightly unevenly. Slight knocks to the edges and a couple of very minor areas of retouching along the lower front edge. Silvering to feet worn though this is only evident when feet are removed. Front feet have added modern wood disc and three of the four feet have replaced chromium plated metal 'patins'. Ruhlmann intended the sofa to have one low upholstered mattress with bolsters on either side and cushions across the back. While the sofa is on exhibition we have removed the lower mattress and are showing the lot with just the top cushion. This shows the continuous line of ivory (matching that on the outside) to much greater effect and also the lower line of ivory dots at the joins of the veneer sections. Clearly this is how the sofa has been used before it was reupholstered sincer there is some fading across the inside of the back at this level. It is a beautiful sofa or restrained elegance and proportion.
"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

Early drawings dating from 1913 show that Ruhlmann was already designing a sofa which would abandon the traditional salon suite of a banquette with matching armchairs.  Both Ruhlmann and Paul Poiret introduced the idea of the sofa as a daybed, to be incorporated into the centre of the salon or into an alcove.  A contemporary photograph from circa 1922 shows a version of the current lot in the salon of Émile Molinié, an architect and early client of Ruhlmann's.  The sofa is in the centre of Ruhlmann's decorative scheme, raised atop a low platform, a device used not just to raise the seat slightly but also to enhance the visual importance of the sofa itself.

Ruhlmann designed a small group of daybeds throughout his career, each imbued with his signature elegance and simplicity.  The present model was executed in very small numbers, and with variant details.  Ruhlmann made use of the sumptuous woods which mark his quintessential style, and versions are documented in macassar ebony, palissander and amboyna burl.  Subtle differences are also invoked, both in the ivory inlay, which is known in the form of roundels, squares, lozenges and as a linear banding, and in the front angles of the arms, which are either cut on the diagonal or curved. In the present lot, the designer draws on the techniques of inlay and veneer to offset the warmth and drama of the highly figured burr walnut with a cool, continuous line of ivory.  The branded number `2' on the underside of the present lot suggests that this was just the second sofa in this combination.  Dated 1933, the year of the artist's death, it was also quite possibly the last.