Modern Masters: Chefs-d’œuvre d’une Collection Privée

Modern Masters: Chefs-d’œuvre d’une Collection Privée

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 18. MARCEL COARD | UNIQUE ARMCHAIR.


Auction Closed

December 12, 12:31 AM GMT


400,000 - 600,000 USD

Lot Details



1889 - 1975


Circa 1920

Designed and executed for the hôtel particulier of Jacques Doucet, rue Saint-James, Neuilly-sur-Seine

Ebony, vellum, mother-of-pearl, velvet upholstery

Impressed M. C. COARD with artist's mark

28¾ x 24¾ x 30¾ in.; 73 x 62.8 x 78.1 cm

Commissioned directly from the artist by Jacques Doucet, Neuilly-sur-Seine, circa 1923

Mes. Audap, Godeau and Solanet, Paris, November 8, 1972, lot 29

Galerie du Luxembourg, Paris

Collection of Félix Marcilhac, Paris, 1973

Sotheby’s Paris and Artcurial, Félix Marcilhac Collection Privée, March 14, 2014, lot 44

Cinquantenaire de l'exposition de 1925, exh. cat., Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris, 1976, p. 57, no. 346 (for the present lot illustrated)

Pierre Kjellberg, "Art Deco: Les Artistes d'Avant-Garde Marcel Coard et Djo Bourgeois," La Gazette de l'Hôtel Drouot, December 12, 1980, p. 41 (for the present lot illustrated)

Pierre Kjellberg, Art Déco: Les Maîtres du Mobilier, Paris, 1981, p. 45 (for the present lot illustrated)

Alastair Duncan, Art Déco Furniture, New York, 1984, p. 59 (for the present lot illustrated)

Félix Marcilhac, "Connoisseur's Choice," The Staste, September-October 1990, pp. 71, 79 (for the present lot illustrated)

Pierre Kjellberg, Le Mobilier du XXème Siècle, Paris, 1994, front cover (for the present lot illustrated)

Amélie Marcilhac, Marcel Coard Décorateur, Paris, 2012, pp. 66-67 (for the present lot illustrated)

Valerie Lapierre, "The Deco Rater," The World of Interiors, January 2014, pp. 54-55 (for the present lot illustrated)

Jean-Louis Gaillemin, Félix Marcilhac: Passion Art Déco, Paris, 2014, p. 77 (for the present lot illustrated)

In the spring of 1914, Marcel Coard, then a young twenty-five-year-old decorator, designed a round-shaped vitrine in ébène de Macassar with lacquer and ivory brackets for the most influential patron of the early 20th Century: Jacques Doucet.

A celebrated Parisian couturier, Doucet made use of colorful and textured fabrics, he discarded the corset and drew inspiration from oriental designs. The Parisian elite, including actresses like Gabrielle Réjane and Sarah Bernhardt in particular, would go to him for dresses and garments. An educated Art Deco enthusiast, knowledgeable about its many forms and stylistic nuances, Doucet never stopped collecting. From 18th Century French furniture to Cubist paintings by Pablo Picasso, as well as book bindings and contemporary furniture that he commissioned, Doucet surrounded himself with all forms of creative work by dynamic intellectuals and eminent figures of the art world. One such figure was André Breton, his personal advisor and librarian until 1927, and the person who convinced him to buy one of Picasso’s great masterworks, Les Demoiselles d’Avignon, in 1924.

In June 1912, he sold his large collection of furniture, objets d’art and 18th Century paintings at auction over several days—a sale he referred to as “the collection of my grand-father.” Following the sale, he decided to position himself as a patron of contemporary art and design, giving carte blanche to artists that he carefully selected and who were to create works of art collaboratively. In an interview with Félix Fénéon in 1921, he explained: “what role do I want to assume? The following: getting talented and young creators excited about taking risks, to learn from their mistakes, and to directly work with them.” The “role” he assumed consisted of having those artists create works of art that he would stage in his hôtel particulier in Neuilly that he had built, which would become a treasure chest for his new collections. Pierre Legrain, who executed many book bindings for the couturier, was in charge of guiding Doucet’s new talents. As the artistic conductor for this private retreat, Legrain effortlessly harmonized the diverse creations of the contemporary avant-garde, ranging from such artists as Rose Adler, Joseph Csaky, René Lalique, Marcel Coard, Eileen Grey and Gustave Miklos, complemented by paintings by Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani, Henri Matisse and the Douanier Rousseau. As a result, the interior of Doucet’s hôtel particulier was unparalleled, referred to as a “temple for modern art” and was reproduced in the periodical L’Illustration, just a few months after Doucet’s passing.

It was in this creative and galvanizing environment that Marcel Coard executed the present Cubist armchair made primarily with parchment and ebony, which originally included an upholstery design based on a drawing by Gustave Miklos. It is a unique piece, and the only known example of a collaboration between Coard and Miklos. Its imposing Cubist design and dark ebony surface contrasts with the light color of the parchment and the glistening mother-of-pearl insets on each arm. The armchair displays the strong influence of Doucet and his love for Cubism, as well as an expressive contrast in shapes and materials that characterizes future works by Coard.

Sold in November 1972 as part of Jacques Doucet’s estate sale, it was bought by the Galerie du Luxembourg which sold it to Félix Marcilhac just a year later. A fundamental piece in the living room of Marcilhac’s private residence in Boulogne, it was the armchair reserved for the host, who had it re-upholstered in coral velvet. 

The great majority of the pieces realized by Marcel Coard for Jacques Doucet are presently held in the collections of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, including the couturier’s desk covered in python skin as well as a red lacquer armchair inspired by African aesthetics, both given by the family in 1958. The present Cubist armchair is consequently one of the last pieces realized for Jacques Doucet by Marcel Coard that still remains in private hands.

Amélie Marcilhac

October 2019