Design Agenda: The Collection of Michael Maharam

Design Agenda: The Collection of Michael Maharam

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 18. An Important Desk Suite.

Marcel Breuer

An Important Desk Suite

Auction Closed

October 15, 05:11 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 USD

Lot Details


Marcel Breuer

An Important Desk Suite

circa 1926-1927

comprising one trestle table, one side chair (model no. B5) and one armchair (model no. B11)

the table likely executed by Junkerswerke Dessau, Germany; the chairs produced by Standard Möbel Lengyel & Co., Berlin

oak, nickel-plated tubular steel, with the original “Eisengarn” fabric

desk: 29⅝ x 61½ x 30¾ in. (75.2 x 156.2 x 78.1 cm)

chair: 33⅜ x 17¾ x 21 in. (84.8 x 45 x 53.3 cm)

armchair: 34 x 19½ x 20⅜ in. (86.3 x 49.5 x 51.8 cm)

Florence Henri, Crépy-en-Valois, France
Galerie Ulrich Fiedler, Berlin, 2004
Peter Blake, Marcel Breuer: Architect and Designer, New York, 1949, p. 19 (for the B5 chair)
Christopher Wilk, Marcel Breuer: Furniture and Interiors, New York, 1981, pp. 53 (for the table) and 62-65 (for the chairs)
Alexander von Vegesack, Deutsche Stahlrohr Möbel, Munich, 1986, pp. 23 and 26
Magdalena Droste, Manfred Ludewig and Bauhaus Archiv, Marcel Breuer Design, Cologne, 1994, pp. 67 (for the B5 chair) and 68 (for the table)
Modern Equipment, exh. cat., Galerie Ulrich Fiedler, Cologne, 2004, pp. 28-29 (for the present table), 30-31 (for the present side chair) and 32-33 (for the present armchair)
Marcel Breuer, Design and Architecture, exh cat., Vitra Design Museum, Weil am Rhein, 2013, pp. 64 (for a drawing of the trestle and side chair) and 128 (for the trestle table)

Comprising a table and two chairs, this important group of furnishings by Marcel Breuer has remained intact and complete for close to a century, having been originally acquired in 1927 by the Bauhaus-trained photographer Florence Henri (1893-1982).

These works may be regarded as amongst the very earliest examples of the architect’s signature tubular-steel furniture, and represent sophisticated evolution from the earlier De Stijl - influenced designs executed in the carpentry workshop of the Bauhaus. The open, linear structure of both chair types and of the table trestles reveal Breuer’s rigorous exploration of spatial transparencies framed by a continuous line of nickel-plated tubular steel.

Together with a low stool designed for use in the Bauhaus, the table from Henri’s collection is amongst the very earliest of Breuer’s experimental tubular steel furniture. One of only two examples known to have been produced, both were acquired by Henri in 1927, together with the accompanying B-5 and B-11 chairs. The table was granted a German patent in October 1926, and was executed that same year, with the frames most likely realized by the Junkerswerke Dessau, the aviation manufacturer located in close proximity to the Bauhaus.

Acknowledging that the Bauhaus did not have the capacity to serial-produce his tubular steel designs, Breuer co-established Standard Möbel in Berlin around late 1926/early 1927 to execute his furniture, including the present B-5 and B-11 chairs acquired by Henri in 1927. Both these chairs are rare to retain their “Eisengarn” textile, and this example of a B-11 armchairs is one of the very first examples produced, lacking the wooden armrests applied to later examples.

Born in the United States, Florence Henri moved to Europe as a child and acquired Swiss citizenship through marriage in 1924. The following year she moved to Paris, studying painting under André Lhote and Fernand Léger, before enrolling at the Bauhaus Dessau to study photography under László Moholy-Nagy. Returning to Paris in 1927, Henri established a successful photography studio, translating her Bauhaus training to advertising projects alongside her own artistic endeavors. This important group of early Marcel Breuer Bauhaus furniture is recorded in a series of photographs taken by Henri whilst at home in her flat in Paris, where friends including Robert and Sonja Delaunay, and Jean Arp and Sophie Tauber-Arp are shown enjoying a lively afternoon whilst seated at this furniture.

- Simon Andrews, Independent Expert Consultant, Andrews Art Advisory Ltd.