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American Decorative Arts
Designer: Paul T. Frankl, American, born Austria, 1887 - 1958
Fabric designer: Paul Rodier, French, 1866 - 1946
Desk and Bookcase with Side Chair and Blotter
Desk and Bookcase: Mahogany, cedrela, zebrawood, yellow poplar, and pine with aluminum leaf
Chair: Ash with aluminum leaf
Blotter: Silk over paperboard
Desk and bookcase: 118.1 x 139.1 x 57.2 cm (46 1/2 x 54 3/4 x 22 1/2 in.) Chair: 76.52 x 47.63 x 44.45 cm (30 1/8 x 18 3/4 x 17 1/2 in.) Blotter: 56.2 x 42.55 cm (22 1/8 x 16 3/4 in.)
Bequest of Clara Migeon Swayze, by exchange
In 1926 Marjorie Merriweather Post began extensive renovations of Mar-a-Lago, her estate in Palm Beach, Florida. The work was overseen by the Austrian-born architect Joseph Urban, who enlisted his friend and fellow émigré Paul T. Frankl to create a sumptuous guest suite that included this desk and chair. Frankl trained as an architect in Vienna before immigrating to New York, where he established a store that sold decorative housewares imported from Asia alongside his own avant-garde furniture. Frankl’s interest in Asian art is evident in the desk’s gold and black color scheme, which evokes Japanese painted screens. The projecting shelves echo the low, horizontal eaves on the Prairie-style houses of Frank Lloyd Wright, whose architecture was an important influence on Frankl. The luxurious coral and tan silk upholstery was made by the eminent French textile designer Paul Rodier. These wide-ranging references underscore the cultural inclusivity of American modernist design during the late 1920s. Post bequeathed Mar-a-Lago to the United States government, and the property was later bought by Donald J. Trump, who sold off portions of the original interiors to local antiques dealers. Frankl’s work for Mar-a-Lago—with its use of rich textiles, metallic surfaces, and bold geometric shapes—is among the most exuberant Art Deco furniture made in the United States.
Made in New York, New York
Not on view
“Christie’s Adds Tours to ‘Form and Reform’ Symposium,” Antiques and the Arts Weekly (December 3, 1993): 65, ill.
“Acquisitions and Gifts 1993,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1994): 16566.
John Stuart Gordon et al., A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 19201950 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011), 17273, no. 111.
Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.