Jean Dunand (French (born Switzerland), Lancy 1877–1942 Paris)
Lacquered wood, gold
Overall 72 3/4 in. × 1 in. × 22 ft. 2 in. (184.8 × 2.5 × 675.6 cm) Each panel 72 3/4 × 19 × 1 in. (184.8 × 48.3 × 2.5 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Michael Chow, 2006
Not on view
For centuries, Asian craftsmen had customarily applied coats of natural lacquer as a decorative and protective finish for their objects. In 1912 Dunand, fascinated by examples he had seen, learned the then closely guarded secrets of traditional Asian lacquering from Seizo Sugawara, a Japanese master living in Paris. Combining age-old techniques with contemporary forms and decorative designs, Dunand soon began producing stylish up-to-date furniture and decorative panels while experimenting with new ways of using lacquer, incorporating it into jewelry, textiles, and even society portraiture.
This spectacular screen is a tour-de-force of sumptuous restraint. The glimmering warmth of its monochromatic gold surface, appropriate to the solar imagery, typifies the French Art Deco approach to metallic finishes—luxurious rather than functional. While the rising-sun motif may have been used either in homage to his Japanese teacher or as a subtle reference to the Asian origins of his technique, the abstract simplicity of the composition shows Dunand at his best: elegant, lyrical, and thoroughly modern.
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Marking: Stamped (four times along bottom edge): JEAN DUNAND.
the artist, Paris (until d. 1942); by descent to his family (from 1942); Félix Marcilhac, Paris; Andrew Crispo, New York (probably by 1991–at least 2004; sale, Sotheby's, New York, December 18, 2004, no. 658, not sold); Mr. and Mrs. Michael Chow, Los Angeles (until 2006; their gift to MMA)
New York. Andrew Crispo Gallery. "International Decoration and the Arts," November 5–28, 1976, not in catalogue.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of French Art Deco," August 4, 2009–January 23, 2011, no catalogue.
Félix Marcilhac. Jean Dunand: His Life and Works. New York, 1991, p. 213, no. 96, colorpl. 48, illustrates the "Sunrise" side.
Mechthild Baumeister. "Jean Dunand—A Master of Art Déco Lacquer." Ostasiatische und europäische Lacktechniken. East Asian and European Lacquer Techniques. Ed. Michael Kühlenthal. Munich, 2000, pp. 205–18.
Mechthild Baumeister. "Jean Dunand: A European Artist Working with Asian Lacquer." Met Objectives: Treatment and Research Notes (Spring 2001), pp. 4–6.
Eve MacSweeney. "A Personal Palace." Vogue 196 (September 2006), p. 684.
Jared Goss in "Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2006–2007." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65 (Fall 2007), pp. 56–57, ill (color).