Study-library of the French Embassy

Pierre Chareau (1883-1950)
Paris, 1925
Carcase in beech, palm wood veneer
Long-term loan from the Musée National d’Art Moderne, 2000
Inv. MNAM AM 2000-1-1
© Les Arts Décoratifs

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The “French Embassy” pavilion, created by the Société des Artistes Décorateurs under the authority of the French Ministry of Fine Arts, was one of the most remarkable works to be seen at the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925. It featured both public and private rooms created by architects and decorators: an entrance hall by Robert Mallet-Stevens (1886-1945), a smoking room by Francis Jourdain (1876-1958), a dining room by Georges Chevalier (1894-1987), a bedroom by André Groult and a study-library by Pierre Chareau. The circular study-library had a dome supported by two wooden posts and featured a fan-like structure that made it possible to adjust the amount of light; two adjoining rooms were for the use of secretaries. The space was modulated by walls covered with palm wood, some of which were fitted with library shelves. The free space in the center contained a desk with canted corners and an armchair, placed on a rug designed by Jean Lurçat (1892-1966). The overall decor creates a subtle harmony of different wood species and materials. The wood paneling, desk and armchair are now in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The architect and decorator Pierre Chareau was one of the most prestigious furniture and decor designers of the Art Deco era. He was particularly productive in the 1920s, especially in the field of interior design. He stood out from his contemporaries by focusing on the mobility of spaces, playing with perspective and breaking symmetry as he did with the study-library. Chareau participated in the movement that led to the founding of the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM) in 1929. In 1931, with the collaboration of the Dutch architect Bernard Bjvoët, he created the Maison de Verre (House of Glass) for the doctor Jean Dalsace on Rue Saint-Guillaume in Paris.

C. B. Pierre Chareau (1883-1950), exhibition catalogue, Paris, Centre Georges-Pompidou, 1993, p. 5.
Évelyne Possémé, Le Mobilier français 1910-1930, Paris, Massin, 1999, pp. 142-151.

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