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Sale 2475 Lot 79
(DESIGN.) Ruhlmann, Jacques-Émile (also known as Émile-Jacques) Original vintage wallpaper book. Contains 47 plates of 19 different patterns with their variations in different colors; 37 plates appear to be lacking. Oblong folio, original bolt-bound soft leather stamped with Ruhlmann's gilt monogram"R," some creasing to the covers; specimens are on delicate paper, showing some hand wear along outer edges where pages have been turned, a few short clean tears and creases throughout, but most still quite clean and very bright. [Paris, circa 1919]
Estimate $15,000 - 25,000
an extremely scarce example of a wallpaper specimen book from the atelier of the great master of art deco design. Few institutions hold specimens of wallpaper samples from Ruhlmann's design boutique Ruhlmann et Laurent, which he founded with his partner, Pierre Laurent, among them, the Musée des Arts Décoratifs and Bibliothèque Forney, in Paris. Most museum samples are single sheets and many have been reconstructed from elements removed from a wall. Even incomplete, this is a rare volume and we know of no other bound folio in public or private collections.
Best known for his masterly furniture designs, Ruhlmann was determined to reestablish France's preeminence in the decorative arts through the avant-garde idiom of modernism. He was a perfectionist who was unabashed about his dedication to satisfying the desires of the wealthy whom, he believed, were in the position to support and propel his mission of exquisite tastemaking. In a 1920 he stated: 'A clientele of artists, intellectuals and connoisseurs of modest means is very congenial, but they are not in a position to pay for all the research, the experimentation, the testing that is needed to develop a new design. Only the very rich can pay for what is new and they alone can make it fashionable. Fashions don't start among the common people. Along with satisfying a desire for change, fashion's real purpose is to display wealth.' He further stated: 'Whether you want it or not, a style is just a craze. And fashion does not come up from humble backgrounds.'