Rare tobacco boxMaison Desny
France, c. 1928
8¼ w x 9 d x 4 h in (21 x 23 x 10 cm)
provenance: Dan Klein, London | Private Collection
exhibited: Picasso, Braque, Lèger and the Cubist Spirit, 1919-1939, 29 June - October 20 1996, Portland Museum of Art, Portland, ME
literature: La Maison Desny, Duncan and Freidman, pg. 88
Robert Mallet-Stevens was born in Paris in 1886. He studied at the École Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and was heavily inspired by the Cubist movement. His most famous architectural works include the Villa Paul Poiret, the Villa Cavrois, the Villa Daniel Dreyfuss and the Villa Noailles which would feature prominently in Man Ray’s film Les Mystères du Château du Dé, (The Mysteries of the Chateau of Dice). Mallet-Stevens was also active in the film industry, designing twenty film sets and working with Fernand Léger, Pierre Chareau, and Rene Lalique on the film L’Inhumaine. He utilized the same heavy linearity employed in his architecture in the decorative works that he created for Maison Desny. Mallet-Stevens died in 1945, and although he left behind an abundant artistic œuvre, his work has been largely unrecognized. His well-earned retrospective in 2005 at the Centre de Pompidou has renewed interest in the work of this esteemed French Modernist.