Armand-Albert Rateau (1882–1938) was a French furniture designer and interior decorator. He was one the most renowned ensembliers, the high-style designers and decorators who produced exquisite works of art for the élite using labour-intensive techniques like gilding and lacquering and luxurious materials like ebony, ivory, shagreen, and exotic woods. For the couture designer Jeanne Lanvin, Rateau created jewel-like interiors in 1922 that was rich in decorative allusions to ancient and oriental sources. He is also justly renowned for his unique bronze furniture creations.
In 1898, he worked as a freelance designer for Georges Hoentschel, an interior decorator and potter. Between 1905 and 1914, he was in charge of the decorating shop Maison Alavoine. When he opened his own workshop in Levallois in 1919, he hired cabinetmakers, carpenters, sculptors, ironworkers, painters, gilders, and other skilled workers. At first, he worked with wood. Then, he lacquered and aged the metal. He received inspiration from pieces from Pompeii, the Middle East, and North Africa that influenced his furniture, chairs, lighting, vases, ashtrays, and other home items.
Rateau’s first big job came in the United States when George and Florence Meyer Blumenthal asked him to work on their swimming pool. There, he started to work with the themes he had seen on a trip in 1914 and made the first pieces of bronze furniture that became so strongly associated with him.
In 1919, he opened his own firm that catered to a small group of wealthy clients. His name and work became well known for his contributions to the Art Deco style, gaining popularity then. At the height of his career in the 1920s and 30s, Rateau took commissions for French government offices, foreign embassies, and businesses like Tiffany & Co. and fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin (1920). Soon after this, he began to design for the Duchess of Alba. (Armand-Albert Rateau – About the Artist, n.d.)
Work with Jeanne Lanvin
He worked on bronze pieces with the sculptor Paul Plumet. Jeanne Lanvin, a fashion designer, asked Rateau to decorate her apartment at 16 Rue Barbet-de-Jouy in Paris. He worked on bronze pieces with the sculptor Paul Plumet. From 1920 to 1922, he made some fantastic bronze furniture with daisies, butterflies, doves, and pheasants in an old Pompeian style. (Byars, 1994). Paul Iribe put a gold picture of Lanvin and her daughter on the Rateau spherical perfume flacon for Lanvin. He created the fashion house Lanvin and ran the Lanvin-Décoration interior design department on rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
He became one of France’s most influential designers of the Art Deco furniture and decor movement. Antiquity inspires his work, and he also focuses on Egyptian-based design. His work on private estates often entailed restoring or recreating period details, like the late-mediaeval wood carvings and pavements at Leeds Castle in Kent. Antiquity inspires his work, and he also focuses on Egyptian-based design.
His clients included the Baron and Baronne Eugène de Rothschild at the Château de la Cröe in Antibes, and American art collectors George and Florence Blumenthal, who arranged for his visit to the USA in 1919. Graduating from ornate to sober, Rateau produced furniture for Dr Thaleimer and Mlle. Stern in 1929–30. In 1921–22, he was the manager of Lanvin-Sport. He renovated the Theatre Daunou in Paris and, in 1926, the bathroom of the Duchesse d’Albe in Madrid with gold lacquered walls, Persian decorations, bronze furniture, and fur-covered chairs. His excellent taste usually offsets his fondness for the overwrought and the sumptuous.
He hardly ever showed his work at exhibitions and salons and was not associated with any group. At the 1925 Paris ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes,’ he participated in the Pavillon de l’Elégance.
Armand-Albert Rateau – About the Artist. (n.d.). Gallerese. Retrieved April 2, 2023, from https://gallerease.com/en/artists/armand-albert-rateau__628c0bfb6ad1