Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Desk

Artist:
Carlo Bugatti (Italian, Milan 1855–1940 Molsheim)
Date:
ca. 1902
Medium:
Walnut, copper, pewter, vellum
Dimensions:
H. 29-1/2, W. 23-2/3, D. 22-1/2 in. (74.9 x 60.1 x 57.2 cm)
Classification:
Furniture
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1970
Accession Number:
1970.181.3
Not on view
Strikingly original, Carlo Bugatti's furniture combines the picturesque asymmetry of Art Nouveau with the exoticism of Moorish and Japanese influences. Yet, there is nothing derivative in Bugatti's work; rather, it is pure fantasy, drawing inspiration from the Orientalist art movement of the late nineteenth century, a fact underscored by the name of his business in Milan: C. Bugatti & C., Fabbrica Mobili Artistici Fantasia. The writing surface of this desk is covered in vellum, held in place with punched copper strapping; the walnut legs are inlaid with pewter imitating calligraphic brush painting. The unusual profile of the desk suggests the jaws and teeth of an alligator. The model was used in one of Bugatti's few completed interiors-a theatrical bedroom designed about 1901 for the London residence of Lord Battersea.
[Galerie du Luxemboug, Paris, until 1970; sold to MMA]

Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. "The Fine Art of the Furniture Maker," November 8–December 27, 1981, unnumbered cat. (p. 70).

Jewish Museum, New York. "J. James Tissot: Biblical Paintings," February 10–May 9, 1982, not in catalogue.

Baltimore. Walters Art Gallery. "Art Nouveau to Art Moderne: Twentieth-Century Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," March 2–April 28, 1985, no catalogue.

Raleigh. North Carolina Museum of Art. "Art Nouveau to Art Moderne: Twentieth-Century Decorative Arts from The Metropolitan Museum of Art," June 22–August 11, 1985, not in brochure.

Cleveland Museum of Art. "Bugatti," July 18–September 19, 1999, no. 1.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Century of Design, Part I: 1900–1925," December 14, 1999–March 26, 2000, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Classic/Fantastic: Selections from the Modern Design Collection," December 21, 2007–April 5, 2009, no catalogue.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Highlights from the Modern Design Collection: 1900–Present, Part II," May 23, 2011–July 1, 2012, no catalogue.

Philippe Garner in The Amazing Bugattis. Exh. cat., Royal College of Art, London. New York, 1979, ill. p. 12 (installation photo of Lord Battersea's London bedroom).

Patricia Bayer, ed. The Fine Art of the Furniture Maker: Conversations with Wendell Castle, Artist, and Penelope Hunter-Stiebel, Curator, About Selected Works from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Exh. cat., Memorial Art Gallery of the University of Rochester. Rochester, 1981, pp. 68–69, 72–73, ill. p. 70 (color).

Philippe Dejean. Carlo-Rembrandt-Ettore-Jean Bugatti. Ed. Nadine Coleno and Uwe Hucke. New York, 1982, ill. pp. 49, 89 (unknown version).

Henry H. Hawley. Bugatti. Exh. cat., Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, 1999, pp. 19, 135, no. 1, figs. 22 (installation photo ca. 1900), 25 (color), dates it about 1888–1902.



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