Desk with Chair by René Herbst (1891-1982)

Desk with Chair by Rene Herbst
At the end of March there is an important auction in Paris. Among the lots this desk with chair by Rene Herbst (1891-1982)

Trained as an architect in Paris, London and Frankfurt, Rene Herbst was a versatile and prolific exponent of Modernism who sought to democratize the avant-garde. Originally an early supporter of Art Deco, Herbst swiftly asserted an identity that embraced the use of progressive new materials within fully resolved interior schemes. Herbst had been quick to recognize that the promotion of good, modern design would be swiftly accepted by the wider public when presented through public environments. Consequently, the styling and interior decoration of the five boutiques that Herbst created for the 1925 Exposition Internationale showcased his progressive vision and led to commissions to design the interiors of the Jean Puiforcat and Siegel boutiques, and the Prunier restaurants in London and Paris. During this period Herbst had been among the first to consider the importance of tubular steel in the serial-production of furniture, and his ‘Sandows’ chair of 1928 – which dispensed with traditional upholstery in favour of exposed rubber springs – represented a statement of breathtaking modernity. Similarly, Herbst’s concepts for lighting were strongly architectural structures that sought to exploit the reflective qualities of chrome-plating and the brillance of electric light. A founding member of the UAM, Herbst undertook numerous collaborations with other members, including selections for the interior of the palace of the Maharaja of Indore, and bespoke modernist furniture for the Parisian townhouse of the Aga Khan, alongside varied commercial commissions that included steel furnishings for ocean liners, and exhibition design.

Post-Lot Text

A sycamore, walnut and chromed steel desk, fitted with nickeled brass reading lamp and three frieze drawers, together with a corresponding desk chair, with chromed steel frame and white leather upholstery, by René Herbst, for his own use, 1928

via Christie’s.

Side Chair by Eileen Gray (1879-1976)

Side Chair by Eileen Gray
A nickelled tubular steel side chair, with brown leather upholstery and bubunga sabots, by Eileen Gray, for E-1027, circa 1926-1929
Estimate EUR 60,000 – EUR 80,000
($84,441 – $112,587)
via upcoming important auction of Christie’s in Paris.

Price realised EUR 101,800

Glass Settee Prototype by René Coulon (1908-1997) for Saint-Gobain


Glass Settee by René Coulon (1908-1997) for Saint-Gobain at an important upcoming auction of Christie’s in Paris.

Tempered glass settee, with blue cloth upholstery and walnut frame, by René Coulon (1908-1997) for the Saint-Gobain glassworks, conceived for the Exposition Internationale, 1937, signed with the designer’s patent stamps.

Estimate €50,000 – €70,000 ($70,367 – $98,514)

About René Coulon

René Coulon (Coulon & Cie), was an architect and glass furniture designer during the height of the Arte Deco period in Paris, France. The last International Fair before World War II was the 1937 International Arts and technics fair in Paris. Pavillon Saint-Gobain was designed by René Coulon.

The term ‘Art Deco’ only came to general use in the 1960s, but it refers back to the Great Exhibition of Arts Decoratifs held in Paris in 1925 which presented to the world a dazzling new style that was to be the successor of Art Nouveau, the style of modernism, of the jazz age, ocean liners, cinemas and of sky scrapers.

The Art Deco movement – with its emphasis on up-to-date individuality combined with good taste, fine materials and exquisite workmanship – became all the rage in France.
Other countries including the USA, Britain and Germany produced their own often equally successful versions of the style. In furniture especially, the French predominated: the world had not seen such creative design for 125 years. On the one hand, the virtuoso cabinet-making of Ruhlmann and Primavera, on the other the brilliant originality of Gray and Jean Royere.

The Art Deco period of the 1920s and 1930s saw a clear partnership develop between architects, designers and craftsmen in the production of decorative schemes for the interior of the new Modernist and Art Deco-style buildings and apartments. Interior design employed furniture manufacturers, metal workers, ceramic factories and the textile industry to produce individual items which, when placed together, would create an overall coherent scheme for a room or building.

Retailers such as Boucheron, Chaumet, Coulon & Cie and Le Maison Aucoc in Paris who retained their own private workshops, supplied royal households as well as the nouveau riche of the day.

René Coulon designed the Saint-Gobain Pavillion at the Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne.

Displaying arts from the Art Deco period, the landmark Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (Art and Technology in Modern Life) opened May 25, 1937, after 8 years of turbulent preparation. It was the last world exhibition to take place in Paris before World War II. The Coulon Pavillion of 1937 was historic.

In 2006, the Musee d’Orsay staged a major exhibition of the history of Saint Gobain (Compagnie des Glaces founded in 1665 by the Jean-Baptiste Colbert, a visionary French politician, Controller-General of Finance under Louis XIV). In the d’Orsay’s publicity they wrote: The wealth of the Company’s archives enable the display to include a surprising variety of objects: watercolours, drawings, mirrors, blocks of glass… images of Versailles, the extraordinary “glass house” and the stunning Coulhon (Coulon) pavillion of 1937. The Pavillon Saint-Gobain was sponsored by Saint-Gobain, the only survivor of a group of private manufacturers founded in 1665, today a multi-billion dollar company.

Furniture designed by René Coulon for Saint-Gobain occasionally comes up for auction.
Tajan, Paris. June 12, 2007, lot 75 RENE COULON (1908-1997) & Saint-Gobain.

Est 120,000 / 150,000 Euros.

Sold for € 196 418

Via Vered Art Gallery (website discontinued)

So I’m curious whether end March 2011 will see results coming back to pre financial crises levels….

Last edited by Guido J. van den Elshout on November 16, 2011 at 11:09 AM

Armchair by Hans Vollmer

Rare Armchair by Hans Vollmer

Another rare early 20ieth century armchair: One by Hans Vollmer. Hans Vollmer was a pupil of Josef Hoffmann at the Kunstgewerbeschule in Vienna in 1898/9


Very rare armchair, ca. 1901

Oak, leather, brass. 27 5/8 in. (70.2 cm.) high Possibly executed by Prag-Rudniker Korbwarenfabrik, Austria.

ESTIMATE $30,000-40,000

via Phillips de Pury & Company.

Pillips de Pury refers by way of provenance to an auction of Christie’s on 29 October 1997 in London, King Street, where this chair fetched $4,615, just before the big increase of auction results for early 20ieth century furniture. Again interesting to see the result of this chair….

Die Zeit Armchair by Otto Wagner

Die Zeit Armchair by Otto Wagner
Die Zeit Armchair by Otto Wagner is another chair in the important Wiener Werkstätte auction in NYC coming March 3, 2011:


Rare armchair, for the dispatch bureau of Die Zeit, Vienna, ca. 1902

Beechwood, nickel-plated metal, aluminum, cord, fabric. 30 3/4 in. (78.1 cm.) high Produced by Jacob & Josef Kohn, Austria. Underside stamped with “J. & J. Kohn/Teschen Austria.”

ESTIMATE $35,000-45,000

via Phillips de Pury & Company.

My view: It seems very similar to the Postsparkasse chair….and already Art Deco.

See for instance the one that was auctioned, but probably held up at Wright in 2006:

Armchair by Otto Wagner for the Vienna Postsparkasse

According to Wright made by:

Austria, 1906
stained beech wood, aluminum, upholstery
21.75 w x 23.25 d x 31 h inches

Vienna’s Postparkasse, or Post Office Savings Bank, is Otto Wagner’s most important public commission and a landmark of modern architecture. This project illustrates Wagner’s pioneering use of aluminum as a new and modern material in architecture and design. Produced in a small series exclusively for the board room of the Post Office Savings Bank, this armchair utilizes aluminum both as a durable material for everyday use, and as a detail that fuses the design with overall architectural concept. Signed with manufacturer’s paper label to underside: [Thonet Wien] and stamped: [Thonet].

Otto Wagner Armchair NYC Christies
In 2008 a similar chair fetched $16,250 at Christie’s in a NYC sale.

Two Leather Otto Wagner Armchairs
In London at Christies there was not much interest in two leather upholstered ones in 2007 ($2,559) See Lot.

In 2000 at Christie’s (again NYC) this ebonized with aluminum one fetched $35,250.

Cord versus upholstery vs leather?  Thonet vs J&J Kohn – who, mind you, later acquired the certain parts of the Thonet portfolio? New World loving this chair more than the Old World? Many questions…

Curious what this one will fetch in NYC.

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