Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (French, Paris 1879–1933 Paris)

ca. 1925
Diam. 8 ft. 1/2 in. (2.45 m)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Bequest of Thelma Williams Gill, by exchange, 2002
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The most renowned designer of his day, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann is still considered the primary exponent of high-style French art deco in the years after World War I. Though best-known for extraordinarily luxurious furniture, Ruhlmann's firm, Ruhlmann et Laurent, could provide any element needed for an interior, from architectural settings to upholstery textiles. His designs would set the standard for other French ensembliers.

    Ruhlmann's furniture is noted for the richness of its materials, subtlety of line, and exquisite craftsmanship; his patterned designs are much more flamboyant. The still-vivid palette of this carpet--with its sumptuous juxtapositions of pink, orange, red, ecru, gray, and blue--is typical of his taste for vibrant color, its swirling abstract floral sprials set within the hard-edged geometric border. Ruhlmann's interest in the integration of color and pattern has close ties to other avante-garde arts of the period, from fauvist paintings to the set and costume designs of the Ballets Russes. The carpet is the first by Ruhlmann to enter the collection, and joins an important group of his furniture, wallpapers, textiles, and lighting that forms one of the principal strengths of the Modern Design collection.

  • Provenance

    Sotheby's, London, March 20, 1988, sale LN8175, lot 527; L'Arc en Seine Gallery, Paris; Sotheby's, New York, June 7, 2002, sale N07808, lot 294.

  • References

    Camard, Florence. Ruhlmann, Master of Art Deco. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 1984. Pp. 232-33. (design in black and white, color illustration depicting a variant colorway)

    Ruhlmann, Un Génie de l'Art Déco. Paris: Somogy Éditions d'Art, in conjunction with the Musée des Années 30, Boulogne-Billancourt and the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal, 2001. P. 297

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History