by Cécile Tajan, Art Deco Specialist
Eileen Gray’s Bibendum armchair is an iconic piece of XXth century furniture. It was designed to be welcoming and comfortable in the tradition of a Chesterfield, but made with coated fabric and metal tubing and taking its inspiration from the famous Michelin Man. Its references and know-how are playful, sweeping aside the ostentatious creations of interior designers and decorators of the period and looking to the modern world. It is the incarnation of nineteen-twenties avant-garde design.
Eileen Gray designed this armchair for her villa E-1027 in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. She went on to make a further 8 examples of Bibendum for her clients. The armchair sold by Artcurial in 2018 for €629,000 came from the Jeanne Tachard collection and is one of only 3 examples whose whereabouts are known today.
It is one of the rare examples of Eileen Gray’s modernist creations we have handled, another being the “Aeroplane” suspension which we auctioned a few years ago. In the coming weeks you will be able to discover other of Eileen Gray’s masterpieces at New York’s Barde Graduate Center, including the Transat Chair and the Non-conformist Chair. The exhibition catalogue will offer an insight into the journey towards modernity of this architect/designer, whose pieces are now to be found in the world’s most important public and private collections.
This summer we will also have the pleasure of rediscovering villa E-1027. The building is currently undergoing the final phase of its restoration, which Artcurial has supported by working with the Cap Moderne Association, organising an auction that was held in May 2019.