Eileen Gray Transat Chair in Black Leather Black Lacquer by Ecart Circa 2000
Splendid Antiques is delighted to offer a stunning Eileen Gray Transat Chair circa 2000, finished in black leather with a black lacquered beech frame with exposed chrome joints and adjustable headrest, stamped Ecart International
Provenance: From The Estate of MJ Long, Designer Of The British Library.
‘Eileen Gray’s story is remarkable no matter how many times you hear it, ’‘She’s an icon not just for women in the arts, but for women everywhere.’
The youngest of five children, Gray was born in 1878 in the Irish town of Enniscorthy. After studying at the Slade School of Art in London, she moved to Paris, where she joined the so-called ‘English colony of Montparnasse’ where many fine arts students were gathered. It was in Paris that she’d embark on a successful career as a lacquer artist, creating several pieces for the famous collector and renowned couturier Jacques Doucet.
Gray would eventually move on, becoming more and more interested in Modernist art and architecture. ‘These were the early decades of the 20th century, and we are talking about fields that were completely dominated by men, ‘Being a woman and accomplishing what she did at the time wasn’t easy. Eventually, though, she was able to break through gender barriers and make her own path. She maintained an independent vision, and what she created was truly singular and special.’
The 'fauteuil transatlantique' takes as its starting point transatlantic steamship travel and the deckchairs used on such ships. It was designed for use on the terrace of Eileen's house E1027 at Roquebrune Cap Martin, between 1925 and 1927. It was also chosen by Ekart Muthesius to furnish the palace of the Maharajah of Indore during the same period. The wooden side frames are designed with rigorous geometry, tenon joints and chromed brackets. The seat is reminiscent of a deckchair's sling with a pivoting head section.
Transat is short for Transatlantique- this chair was designed in 1927 by Eileen Gray in 1927 for the villa E 1027 in Roque brune CAP Martin, French Riviera and was based on the deckchairs used on steamships. It was originally used on the terrace of the designer's home and later was also chosen to furnish the palace of the Maharajah of Indore. This edition was produced by Andree Putman for Ecart International.
From The Estate of MJ Long, Designer Of The British Library, the architects Mary Jane (‘MJ’) Long (1939-2018) and Colin ‘Sandy’ St John Wilson (1922-2007), the husband and wife team that designed the British Library.
The pair met at Yale University and began working together in 1965 after moving to London. Following their marriage in 1972, they began a commission for the new British Library, a task they would continue to work on for thirty years - it later became one of the youngest buildings ever given a grade I listing, for its outstanding architecture.
The lots in the collection give a tantalising glimpse into the couple’s friendships with artists that informed some of their design choices for the Library, artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi (1924-2005), whose 12ft bronze ‘Newton After Blake’ sits in the piazza, and RB Kitaj (1932-2007), whose massive tapestry hangs in its entrance hall. At the time it was made by the Master Weavers of the Dovecot Tapestry Studio in 1993, the tapestry, based on Kitaj’s painting ‘If Not, Not’, was the largest in the world at around 23ft (7m) across.
St John Wilson and Paolozzi had been friends since the pair both participated in the seminal ‘This is Tomorrow’ exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956.
Kitaj was one of the fourteen artists for which MJ Long had designed studios, typically accepting paintings and drawings as part payment for her work. She later wrote about the projects in a 2009 book ‘Artists’ Studios’.
Long’s London home, built c.1926 as a studio for the sculptor Sir William Reid Dick, was adapted by the couple in 1974 into a family home. It housed post-war design classics, evident in the sixty-two lots within this sale, such as the chairs designed by Mies van der Rohe and the pair of Beehive pendant lamps by the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto.
Long was a keen sailor and also included is a Canadian canoe from the home the couple shared in the West Sussex village of Bosham. One of their final projects together was to design a contemporary extension to the original Queen Anne townhouse of the nearby Pallant House Gallery. The new wing that opened in 2006, the year before St John Wilson died, had been a project particularly close to the couple’s heart; the space they created was used to house a collection of modern British art they had donated to the gallery a decade earlier.
Condition: The chair is offered in excellent original condition, age related wear, the leather has no tears or rips, no odours or smells.
Height: 31.1” inches / 79cm
Width: 21.6” inches / 55cm
Length: 41.7” inches / 106cm
Seat height: 16” inches / 40cm