André Arbus Secrétaire
A stunning and extremely rare 1940s satin birch secrétaire attributed to André Arbus. The plain fall front opens to reveal a fitted interior above three drawers and square tapering legs with decorative brass capitals. The centralised demi-lune detail of the lower drawer facade; the exaggerated taper of the squared legs, and their decorative brass capitals, are all hallmark Arbus design details and characteristic of the designer's peak, his 1940s "neoclassique" period.
Today André Arbus is remembered as one of the finest and most unique cabinet makers of the early to middle twentieth century, and is credited with reintroducing neo-classicism to the contemporary designs of his generation. His work lives on in museums around the world, and through the work of the Foundation André Arbus, established by his daughter. His furniture and fittings are now highly prized by collectors and are rarely offered for sale.
French architect and designer, Andre Arbus, was born in 1903 in Toulouse, France. A third-generation cabinetmaker, he quickly became artistic director of the family business, engaging his team of craftsmen to work on new and revolutionary cutting edge designs. Arbus’ focus was three-fold: quality, comfort, and the celebration of a distinctly French aesthetic. The first two, embraced by all French furniture makers, were stronger than usual in Arbus; yet what truly set the designer apart—and ensured his enduring reputation—was the last, his modern grand aesthetic.
At just 22 years old, Arbus became active in the Salons of the Societe des Artistes Decorateurs and the Salon d’Automne in Paris in 1925. His work included ocean liner commissions, for the 1922 Bretagne, the 1927 La Provence and the SS Ile-de-France. His designs used rare materials, were elegant and pure, and played with the classicism of the French Empire. He played with fragility – as in his neo-classical interior at the Paris International Exposition of 1937 (see image) - comparing the joints in his furniture to the joints of the human hand. His commissions also included private townhouses as well as Le Mobilier National for which designed a desk for U.S. Ambassador W. H. Harriman, and the post World War II Medici Room of the Chateau de Rambouillet.
Country of origin: France
Material: satin birch
Dimensions: Height 125cm Width 70cm Depth 37cm
Condition: very good with a few minor marks consistent with age and use; consisting of a couple of small repaired chips to the top edge of the the fall, and a minuscule repaired split to the veneer to the top righthand corner.
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