Desk and Bookcase with Side Chair and Blotter Designer: Paul T. Frankl (American, born Austria, 1886–1958)
Designer: (fabric) Paul Rodier (French, 1866–1946)

ca. 1927

American Decorative Arts

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.

Medium

Desk and Bookcase: Mahogany, cedrela, zebrawood, yellow poplar, and pine with aluminum leaf\r\nChair: Ash with aluminum leaf\r\nBlotter: Silk over paperboard

Dimensions

Desk and bookcase: 46 1/2 × 54 3/4 × 22 1/2 in. (118.1 × 139.1 × 57.2 cm)
Chair: 30 1/8 × 18 3/4 × 17 1/2 in. (76.52 × 47.63 × 44.45 cm)
Blotter: 22 1/8 × 16 3/4 in. (56.2 × 42.55 cm)

Credit Line

Bequest of Clara Migeon Swayze, by exchange

Accession Number

1993.107.1.1-.3

Culture
Period

20th century

Classification
Disclaimer

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 records is ongoing.

Provenance

Provenance

Commissioned by Marjorie Merriweather Post, Mar-a-Lago, Palm Beach, Fla., ca. 1927-73; bequeathed as part of the house furnishings to the Marjorie Merriweather Post Foundation, Washington D.C., 1983-85; purchased as part of the house furnishings by Donald J. Trump, New York, 1985; purchased by Gustavo Sanin and Ivan Velilla, Coral Gables, Fla., around 1985-93; Christie's, New York, December 11, 1993, lot 552
Bibliography
  • Sarah D. Coffin, Stephen Harrison, and Emily M. Orr, The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s, exh. cat. (Cleveland: Cleveland Museum of Art, 2017), 242–43, 343, no. 163, fig. 295
  • John Stuart Gordon et al., A Modern World: American Design from the Yale University Art Gallery, 1920–1950 (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2011), 172–73, no. 111
  • "Acquisitions and Gifts 1993," in "An Obsession with Fortune: Tyche in Greek and Roman Art," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (1994), 165–66
  • "Christie's Adds Tours to 'Form and Reform' Symposium," Antiques and the Arts Weekly (December 3, 1993), 65, ill
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

blotters, bookcases, desks, side chairs

Marks

"XI [or IX]," stamped on proper right front glue block of chair

Technical metadata and APIs

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