Pruskin = (20th Century design (chic))

There is a formula that never fails to be chic, and the Pruskin Gallery in London understands the maths.

The Telegraph describes Julia and Michael Pruskin as ‘two of London’s most authorative dealers in 20th Century decorative arts’, their un-erring eye has promoted 20th century hi-end pieces to stylish collectors: from Hollywood’s gilded elite to West London’s leafy streets. The gallery encompasses a giddy selection: Picasso ceramics, to French art deco via Japanese art and Danish mid-century, and on it goes – this eclectic mix is held together by their taste and vision. Bonhams email for the forthcoming Pruskin collated sale hit my inbox, March 14th – I had deja vu -Sothebys held a Pruskin auction in March 2008. I had a look through both sales, and there is a veritable roll call of 20th century chic, redolent with desirability.

Jacques Adnet


Maison Jansen

Maison Charles

Serge Roche

Jules Lelue

Pierre Lardin

Paulo Buffa


Fontane Arte

Gio Ponti

… and on it goes.

The design, craftsmanship and production standards make these designers highly desirable – pieces from them have a ‘stand alone’ quality, furthermore they are effortlessly stylish in every interior they grace – these 2 facts are the hallmarks of excellence in the decorative arts, hence their appeal. Furthermore their gaining ‘provenance’, Fontane Arte from Pruskin has a certain ring to it.

To illustrate their desirability, check them out in situ,(the pruskin’s apartment was photographed in 2008 pre-Sotheby’s auction) then in some very different spaces. They work every time…

The full article can be downloaded here, For me the space has a stillness, it’s well edited. The layering is key: furniture is earthy, the accent pieces delicate, the accessories decorative. Look again and check out how colour is picked up only in the jewel tones of glass, ceramics, flowers and key artwork. There is a striking 40’s red-leather sofa inviting you to sit back (somewhere) – a highlight piece, above it are Bagues crystal wall sconces. The Pruskin’s explain how they often live with their stock, the shop’s selection flows through their domestic space. All of the key pieces here – Willy Rizzo side cabinets, Frits Hennigsen armchair, Bagues wall lights, could  be swapped for another statement Pruskin piece, each item will work with the rest of the Pruskin-edit.

See also how well they work in very different settings:

Lisa Fine’s Paris feminine apartment, has a Maison Jansen ‘rolling’ dining table and candlelit chandalier, embraced in mirrored glow at night.

Her sumptuous bedroom has a pair of Jacques Adnet leather bound chairs in masculine contrast.

Aerin Lauder’s has Willy Rizzo’s coffee table (with bar stash) in Manhattan, injecting a glamour-highlight into a traditional scheme.

A Bagues chandalier and Maison Jansen table in the Lauren library

Nanette Lepore has THE ship chandalier from Bagues in the mix, via Jonathon Adler’s signature interior design style: GQ, Glamorous’n’Quirky.

And here is it again in Texas, Gwynn Griffith’s layered opulence, bath-tubs ahoy…

In San Franciso, Masion Jansen and Gilbert Poilleret are tailored and masculine chez Steven Volpe:

Masion Jansen lamp in the mix.

One of a pair of Gilbert Poillerat chairs flanking a statement console.

Todd Merrill, New York’s uber Dealer – lets Serge Roche cross the threshold of his impressive Manhattan home, palm tree style torchiere’s below with Pedro Friedeburg’s sur-real chair:

In LA, decorator Tappert Howe has a Serge Roche console, casually chic in her bedroom.

Finally fabulous Fabrizio Rollo, Brizilian style setter, Maison Jansen’s bamboo table and Klismos chair are firmly in his GQ mix:

So if I was bidding: What would I raise my paddle for, and what did we miss chez Sotheby’s in 2008 I wondered. Well to start with: it’s got to be the real deal – right? ‘in the style of’ and ‘attributed to’ doesn’t really cut it for me.

Just to sense check this, I reviewed some designers work in its original spaces – as intended – so to speak. The power of their orignal design statement really comes through, there’s a wonderful poster from France declaring: The French tradition is to create.

French Company of Arts stand in 1939 Expo, features Jacques Adnet sideboard with Gilbert Poillerat iron work and Adnet’s chairs. It is a striking tableau.

Jacques Adnet 1900-1984:

Jules Leleu’s ‘Flower Exhibition’ at ‘Maison Leleu’ 1950.

Jules Leleu 1883-1961:

An elegant pair of Gilbert Poilleret chairs, master metal-worker.

Gilbert Poillerat: 1902-1988

Serge’s Roche’s mirrored dining room with giraffe’s feet and scagliole top surrounded by 17th Century portugese chairs. Mirrored obelisk lamps are wall-mounted behind. I just love the giraffe’s feet! they are a Roche-Special.

Serge Roche: 1898-1988

Maison Jansen ruled the decorative world throughout the 20th Century, from The White House to the Shah of Iran and ‘that woman’ Wallis Simpson. They were trad-glamour incarnate. They developed ateliers for production steeped in the french decorative arts as well as working with well known French designers. Below is an image from the 1960’s director of Jansen, Pierre Delbee  – Maybe Lisa Fine just rolled the cute table straight over to her dining room (featured above) ?

The Sothebys auction raised £850,00, with quite a few unsold/withdrawn lots.  Art did extremely well, lovely Rex Whistler was a sell out (several Whistler pieces sold): raise a flag for the Brit and best friend of Cecil Beaton.   Below is a selection of lighting and furniture.


clockwise from top left:

Bagues chandaliers, (unsold).

Bagues ‘ship chandalier’ (‘attributed too’ – I know – but its THE ship) (sold £6,250).

Bagues Red crystal wall sconces, wow. (sold £6,250).

Marais hand sconces, gotta to love a hand lighting the way (sold £5,000).

Hermes padlock lamp (sold  £3,750)

Masion Jansen pineapple lamps (love a pineapple) (sold £7,250)

There was also  a fab Chinoiserie chandalier from Bagues, floor lamps by Gilbert Poillerat, Masion Jansen bronze lamps etc.  A feast really.


Clockwise from top left:

Jacques Adnet dressing table (sold £12,500) I love mirror image feel of the shape and super ‘leggera’ legs.

Masion Jansen coffee tables (sold £10,250) very Willy Rizzo chic.

Jaques Adnet desk, (sold £9,000) Adnet’s designs are just all alpha-male chic.

Masion Charles  side tables (unsold) coming up a Bonhams.

Gilbert Poilleret chairs (unsold), a pair are  coming up at Bonhams.

So much great furniture was at the sale, see it all online at sothebys.

The Bonhams sale is fast approaching, I have cherry picked below from 136 lots, with very little art this time:

Lot 1, Jacques Adnet side cabinet, ash and cherry wood with marble top and leather trim and fitting.  Its the leather trim sweeping round that gets me.  For HIS dressing room. (£ 6-8,000)

Lot 4, Pierre Lardon ‘Zodiac’ screen /room divider. HER dressing room maybe? (£3-4,000)

Lot 5, Jacques Adnet’s armchairs have grown on me after the visual above. (£6-8,000) obviously well thought of?

Lot 7, Gucci chest of drawers in maple wood and bronze trim.  Got to be HER dressing room, putting Gucci away in Gucci would feel good. (£3,000-4,000)

Lot 14, French, mid century ebony consoles.  Entrance hall please.

Lot 34, those Gilbert chairs, with intricate shield backs, I could throw clothes over them?  emerald velvet seats? HER dressing room (£6-8,000) Sotheby’s estimated £15-20,000 for 4.

Lot 35, Serge Roche consoles: I would hace anything from serge Roche: giraffe feet, obelisks, palm moments etc. (£2-3,000)

Lot 50, Pierre Lardin wall mirror, above that Gucci chest…. hmmm. (£4-6,000)

Lot 78, Bagues Chandalier, from before – height 154 cm! anywhere that could take it. (£20-30,000)

Lot 95, Masion Charles side tables, as before, (£2-3,000) Sotheby’s estimated £5-8,000 in 2008, which is above the odds, the current price is on par with 1st Dibs dealers.

Lot 119, Jacques Adnet low table, black lacquer and brass (£6-8,000)

Lot 124, Bedsides in cream lacque and gilt, very glamorous and hard to find. Birgit Israel‘s modern version springs to mind, but nice to have the patina of time. (£2-3,000)

Lot 134, Fontana Arte desk light, the lines are so elegant,  would look good with Adnet’s chest, HIS dressing room. (800-1,200)

Lot 136, Jaques Adnet’s room divider is very of its time, Charlotte Perriand vibe, it’s simple and assertive. Yes please. (£6-8,000)

So, we can all dream courtesy of Bonhams and more importantly  the Pruskin Gallery.  Get ready to raise a paddle if you can and take home a piece of  the 20th century’s most creative chic.

Image Credits:

Pruskin Gallery, London directory

Pruskin apartment, Telegraph magazine.

Designer work in situ  US

Black and white designer images, Les Designes des Annees 40, Bruno Foucart and Jean Louis Gaillemin

Lots from Sotheby’s sale,

2 thoughts on “Pruskin = (20th Century design (chic))

  1. Pingback: PANTALEON y las decoradoras · Pantaleón jansenista

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