December 9, 11:37 PM GMT
120,000 - 180,000 USD
together with the original key
57 1/4 x 70 x 19 1/2 in. (145.4 x 177.8 x 49.5 cm)
One cannot underestimate the influence of African art and visual culture on the European avant-garde of the early 20th century. Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque’s revolutionary Cubist practice as well as Pierre Legrain and Marcel Coard’s highly geometric furniture designs may be some of the most celebrated examples from the period, grounding Africanism as a defining characteristic of their experimental practice. Sub-Saharan influences in decorative arts specifically gained further momentum through important tastemakers like Jacques Doucet, who furnished his home with eclectic commissioned pieces designed by Legrain, Coard and Eileen Gray, among others. Doucet was one of Coard’s most important patrons and cultivated his interest in African visual culture, even encouraging him to collect African and Oceanic masks.
The present cabinet, executed around 1925, is a prime example of Coard’s multifaceted style and his reinterpretations of foreign influences. The use of two types of wood, rosewood and ebonized wood, as well as the inclusion of carved elements show the influence of African totems. Two documented designs from the same period present with similar features as the present piece: a smaller cabinet shaped like a column with ivory drawer pulls and a larger bookshelf with a similar form. All three pieces from this same family include finely sculpted ebony totems whose artistic influence is equally as Cubist as it is Africanist. Drawers knobs are square-shaped and also made of ebony. The contrast between these sculptural elements and the carefully selected rosewood panels reinforces the designer’s predilection for hybrid influences and contrasting forms.