Recently, there was an article in Architectural Digest about Jacques Doucet, the French fashion designer and art patron. Among the most important patrons of Paris Art Deco, Doucet added a studio called the Studio Saint-James to his residence in Neuilly, France (outside Paris) at the beginning of the twentieth century. In this studio, the celebrated designer commissioned the most distinguished interiors in the Art Deco style, by employing top designers who created splendid pieces of furniture for these interiors.
In 1972, the heirs of Jacques Doucet sold many of these Art Deco treasures. It was at this Paris sale, as well as through other sources, that Richmond collectors Sydney and Frances Lewis acquired a stellar group of objects that had been owned by Doucet. Among the objects were a rare table in ebony and sharkskin by Rose Adler; a lacquer table made by Eileen Gray; several works by Pierre Legrain including a birdcage-on-stand, two stools as well as a cabinet designed by Legrain and lacquered by Jean Dunand; a wool carpet by Louis Marcoussis; and a fine crystal, silver, and enamel sculpture by Gustave Miklos. One of the most important objects created for Doucet, which was later also acquired by the Lewises, was a large sofa in rosewood, ivory, and leather, made by Marcel Coard before 1929.
Several years ago, VMFA acquired 17 rare vintage photographs documenting several of the most important interiors of Doucet’s Studio Saint-James, located on the Rue Saint-James and attached to the townhouse belonging to the fashion designer’s wife. The photos depict some of the distinguished interiors at the Studio Saint-James, which showcase Doucet’s impressive collection of contemporary art, including paintings by Henri Rousseau, Georges Braque, and Pablo Picasso. In addition, the magnificent furniture commissioned from celebrated designers such as Eileen Gray, Pierre Legrain, Marcel Coard, and Rose Adler appear in the museum’s photographs. Today, the furniture and interior decoration of Doucet’s studio are universally recognized as the best example of the Art Deco style.
—Barry Shifman, Sydney and Frances Lewis Family Curator of Decorative Arts