Ruhlmann used the same basic motif—a stylized Cedar of Lebanon tree set within an irregular circle—on this textile and related wallpaper (MMA 2005.334), though on the textile each motif is offset by an added circle of dots. The pattern was produced in alternate colorways.
Most of the interwar years’ French artists decorators, including Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, André Groult and Maurice Dufréne, designed fabrics, despite being best known in other fields of design. Most of their fabrics are unsigned and attributed only through catalogues or other period images. However, the work of specialist designers – like Eduard Bénédictus (1878-1930), a favourite among early Art Deco designers for upholstery, can be signed off and well documented.
Robert Bonfils (1886-1972) designed this woven silk furnishing fabric called ‘Oasis’ for Bianchini-Férier between 1925 and 1929. Bonfils was also a graphic artist. This design shows the interest of the time in exoticism.
Other note designers included Raoul Dufy (1877 -1953), who has worked in a distinctive, typically figural style throughout the period. Courtier Paul Poiret and Robert Bonfils and Francis Jourdain.
Although the majority of the Atelier Martine’s textiles were designed by anonymous school girls, some patterns were provided by experienced artists or designers. One was Francis Jourdain, who trained as a painter and printmaker but turned to interior design early in his career. In addition to acting as an ensemblier, creating whole interior ensembles, he designed furniture, fabic, wallpaper, and stained glass. Jourdain set up an atelier to produce his furniture designs, following Poiret’s example, but had no such operation for textiles, so he provided this design to the Atelier Martine.
Manufacturers of note include Bianchini-Ferier, a historic silk maker, and Brunet, Meunie et Cie, a fabric maker. Collectors and design lovers should note that several historic fabric houses are still in operation and have replicated Art Deco fabrics to authentic standards.
Miller, J. (2016). Art deco: living with Art Deco style. Miller’s, a division of Mitchell Beazley.
Born in Paris, Robert Bonfils was a French graphic artist, painter, and designer. He studied at the École Germain-Pilon in 1903 and at the École Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1906. He worked for Henri Hamm, a furniture designer. His work included paintings, bookbindings, ceramics for Sèvres, Bianchini-Frerier silk, wallpaper and interior design layouts.
Longlisted for the Indie Book Awards 2020 for Illustrated Non-Fiction* For the first time, Sydney’s Art Deco buildings of the 1930s and 1940s are identified and gloriously displayed with contemporary photographs alongside archival images. Sydney Art Deco explores the impact of the Art Deco style on the landscape and life of Sydney during the 1930s and 1940s.