"When Japan inspired Paris" - Gazette Drouot

Marnyhac House
Marnyhac House
Japanese style gueridon table

This elegant gueridon table, with its decoration dictated by the Far East, belongs to the Japanese vein in vogue in the 1870's. It will soon evoke in Cannes the best achievements of the house Marnyhac, one of the most meticulous Parisian houses of that time.

On the tray, three vases unfold their complex volumes, the largest of which contains a small flowering shrub. The stage, made of polychrome partitioned enamel, rests on bronze branches that escape from a drum around which a dragon is wrapped. But the most attractive detail of this Japanese piece remains its foot, formed of four elephant heads, in subtle echo to those decorating the vase figurated on the plate. A signature engraved in hollow on the cask also gives the origin of the piece: the «Maison Marnyhac, 1 rue de la Paix, Paris». At the end of the 19th century, it was one of the best of the capital in terms of decoration; under this commercial name is hidden the Society of Artistic Marbles and Bronzes, created by the merchant-publisher Charles de Marnyhac (1838-1897). First established on Avenue de l'Opéra, the elegant boutique was later moved to Rue de la Paix, specializing in the production of luxury goods, and prospered before closing its doors around 1910. Its founder asserts himself as one of the main actors of the fusion, typically XIXth, between art and industry, which allows to introduce in the rich interiors the latest artistic currents. Our gueridon table is evidently marked by the most appreciated of them during the years 1870-1880 : Japonism. The art of the land of the Rising Sun, which was just opened to the Westerners, was then an inexhaustible source of inspiration, from painting to decorative arts, offering innovative motifs to both Vincent Van Gogh and Édouard Lièvre.

Medal of Honour in 1878

Creative entrepreneurs will therefore take advantage of this trend to open up rival structures. At their head is the famous Escalier de cristal, located on Scribe Street, the Barbedienne House and the company that occupies us, the Marnyhac House. Like its competitors, this one appeals to the most representative sculptors of its time ; thus Auguste Clésinger, Amédée Charron or Georges Clère give models of many art bronzes. Excellent ornemanists such as Eugene Piat, great holder of eclecticism, are also at the origin of other memorable creations. Often, the pieces combine extreme-eastern elements (such as the top of the enamel display) with frames made in Parisian workshops.

The object can then be produced in series, with some «decoration» variants ; thus a small table identical to ours, spent at Tessier & Sarrou and Associés OVV, in Drouot, on November 30, 2012, differed only by the decor of its tray… Marnyhac was awarded a medal at the 1878 Exhibition. Enthusiastic, the critic Émile de Bergerat did not hesitate to write in his book Les Chefs-d'oeuvre d'art à l'Exposition universelle de 1878 : The exhibition of the house of Marnyhac showed me clearly that Paris has two Barbedienne, that is to say two industrialists of art such that the whole Europe cannot oppose us of equals. This demonstration was well worth a medal of honour!».

Philippe DUFOUR

House Marnyhac, Japanese gueridon table resting on a foot in bronze engraved formerly gilded, platter in polychrome cloisonné enamel, H. 71,5 cm, Diam. 70.5 cm.

Estimate : 28 000/35 000 €

To be auctioned next December 30 in Cannes by Besch Cannes Auction

The documents :

XX° century35Decorative arts23
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