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Jean Dunand Decorative Objects

Swiss, French, 1877-1942

A prolific talent, Jean Dunand was one of the most extraordinary and emblematic designers of the early 20th century. He produced well over a thousand Art Deco works in an almost dizzying array of media. He is best remembered for his exquisite creations in lacquer and metal, but he also worked as a sculptor, mosaicist, portraitist and goldsmith. The Swiss-born Parisian designer imagined jewelry, tapestries, fabrics for haute couture and, during World War I, even a helmet for soldiers with an adjustable visor.

Dunand’s clients included fashion designers Jeanne Lanvin, Madeleine Vionnet and Elsa Schiaparelli, as well as Josephine Baker, who used his vases and screens for her stage sets. She also posed nude for him, and her likeness appears on several lacquer panels. He collaborated with Robert Mallet-Stevens on a boutique for the Swiss leather-goods brand Bally on Paris’s boulevard de la Madeleine, and he lacquered furniture for both Eugène Printz and Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann.

The two highlights of his professional life, however, were no doubt his participation in the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris in 1925 and the decor he imagined for a number of luxury ocean liners, the largest and most prestigious of which was the Normandie, which first set sail in May 1935.

At the 1925 exhibition, from which Art Deco derives its name, Dunand made his mark not only with a series of four monumental hammered-copper vases, decorated with striking geometric patterns in lacquer consisting of squares, triangles, chevrons and undulating lines, but also with the sleek and stylish smoking room he designed for the Pavillon de la Société des Artisans Décorateurs.

Born Jules-John Dunand in 1877 (he Frenchified his first name later) close to Geneva in Switzerland, his first career was as a sculptor. He moved to Paris in 1897 and won a gold medal at the Exposition universelle de 1900 for a bronze proof titled Quo vadis. Five years later, he had turned his attention almost exclusively to the decorative arts. In an ensuing interview, he explained, “The desire to earn a living was partly responsible for my abandoning what is known as ‘fine art.’”

In 1912, Dunand met the Japanese lacquer master Seizo Sugawara, who initiated him into the secrets of the medium’s age-old techniques. It was not until 1921, however, that he presented his first pieces of lacquer furniture. Dunand was not the only Art Deco designer to use the material (Eileen Gray famously did so too), but he employed it much more prolifically and decoratively.

By 1924, he was at the head of a workshop of nearly 60 employees producing objects that ranged from boxes and trays to card tables and screens, many of which bore breathtakingly beautiful motifs consisting of interlocking lines and geometric shapes. By 1927, he had abandoned abstract patterns, favoring instead rich and complex figurative designs, largely featuring animals against stylized backgrounds of leaves and flowers, an aesthetic not far removed from the paintings of Henri Rousseau.

Dunand continued his work relentlessly until his death, in 1942 at the age of 65.

After World War II, Art Deco went completely out of style, and Dunand’s work was largely neglected until the mid-1970s. Since then, it has gained something of a cult following. Karl Lagerfeld, Yves Saint Laurent, Andy Warhol and Marc Jacobs all had Dunand creations in their collections.

Find vintage Jean Dunand decorative objects, ceramics and other Art Deco works on 1stDibs.

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Creator: Jean Dunand
Jean Dunand French Art Nouveau Bronze Vase
By Jean Dunand
Located in New York, NY
Jean Dunand French Art Nouveau transitional diminutive bronze vase, stamped with makers mark on bottom. In remarkable antique condition with age-appropriate wear.
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Early 1900s French Art Nouveau Antique Jean Dunand Decorative Objects

Materials

Bronze

Jean Dunand Hand-Hammered Pewter Vase
By Jean Dunand
Located in Brooklyn, NY
Jean Dunand hand-hammered pewter vase. Signed and numbered (#3672) on base. Documented piece: Felix Marcilhac, Jean Dunand, His Life and Works, 1991 (please refer to images). Meas...
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1920s French Art Deco Vintage Jean Dunand Decorative Objects

Materials

Pewter

Jean Dunand Dinanderie Vase French Art Deco Rare
By Jean Dunand
Located in Oakland, CA
Dinanderie Vase by French artist Jean Dunand..This is a rare and unusual vase with a combination of abstract floral and geometric images. The multi-layer patina gives this vase a ver...
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1920s French Art Deco Vintage Jean Dunand Decorative Objects

Materials

Metal

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Jean Dunand decorative objects for sale on 1stDibs.

Jean Dunand decorative objects are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of metal and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Jean Dunand decorative objects, although gold editions of this piece are particularly popular. Many of the original decorative objects by Jean Dunand were created in the Art Nouveau style in france during the early 20th century. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider decorative objects by Edmond Lachenal, Denbac, and Muller Fres Luneville. Prices for Jean Dunand decorative objects can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $5,500 and can go as high as $9,500, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $7,500.

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