He studied at the École des Arts Industriels, Geneva.
Jean Dunand, a Swiss sculptor, metalworker, and artisan, settled in Paris in 1896. Initially working as a sculptor from 1896 to 1902, he studied coppersmithing in Geneva and eventually turned to metalworking. In 1903, he established his studio in Paris and, in 1905 exhibited his first vases in the Art Nouveau style, showcasing his skills in hammered copper, steel, tin, lead, and silver. Inspired by the work of Paris-based Japanese artisans, he turned to lacquer in 1909 and changed his name to Jean Dunand. Around 1913, he transitioned from Art Nouveau to geometric forms. In 1912, he learned lacquering techniques from Japanese artist Seizo Sugawara, who had also taught Eileen Gray.
Works and Collaborations
In 1919, Jean Dunand began producing lacquer panels, tables, chairs, and other works for renowned designers such as Pierre Legrain, Eugene Printz, Jean Goulden, and Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, who incorporated his pieces into their creations. His post-war furniture designs, characterized by straight lines and planes, were particularly well-suited for lacquer decorations in natural colours and those tinted with black, red, and tortoiseshell effects. Dunand is credited with inventing crushed eggshells in lacquer, known as coquille d’oeuf. To meet the growing demand for his goods, which included lacquer, metalwork, and cabinetry, he opened a workshop at 70 rue Hallé, Paris, in 1919. He collaborated sporadically with artists such as Serge Rovinski, Georges Dorinac, Henri de Varoquier, and Bieler throughout his career. He created giant screens based on his designs and those by artists such as Paul Jouve, Francois-Louis Schmied, Ruhlmann, Printz, Gustav Miklos, and Jean Lambert-Rucki. Among his clients were prominent figures such as clothing designers Madeleine Vionnet and Jeanne Lanvin, Ambassador Bertholet, and Mme. Yakoupovitch, and Mme. Labourdette. For Mme. Labourdette’s smoking salon, he produced four large decorative lacquer murals with sculptured relief.
“Art is the essence of life, and through my creations, I strive to capture its beauty, transcend its boundaries, and leave a lasting imprint on the world.”
Jean Dunand’s commissions also included lacquered panels for the ocean liners Ile-de-France in 1927, Atlantique in 1931, and Normandie in 1935. He collaborated with Jean Lambert-Rucki on widely published lacquer screens and decorative pieces. Dunand also diluted lacquer to paint fabric for scarves and dresses for Agnés, and he designed handbags and belt buckles for Madeleine Vionnet.
Jean Dunand’s work was first exhibited as a sculptor-metalworker at the 1904 Salon of Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in Paris. His work was regularly displayed at the Salons of Société des Artistes Décorateurs and the 1910 Brussels ‘Exposition Universelle et Industrielle.’ In 1921, his first pieces of lacquered furniture, screens, and panels were shown in a group exhibition with Paul Jouve, Francois-Louis Schmied, and Jean Goulden at Galerie Georges Petit in Paris. His lacquer work was featured in the smoking room of ‘Une Ambassade frangaise’ and, in collaboration with Ruhlmann, in the Hotel du Collectionneur at the 1925 Paris ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes,’ as well as the 1931 Paris ‘Exposition Coloniale.’ In 1973, an exhibition titled ‘Jean Dunand—Jean Gouden’ was held at Galerie du Luxembourg, Paris, showcasing his work.