Rare French Art Deco walnut commode firmly attributed to Jules Leleu (1883-1961).
French, Paris circa 1930.
Wonderfully constructed as one would expect, the moulded and in-stepped oblong top above four lozenge parquetry-veneered long drawers within curved front corners on a raised plinth with gilt bronze-banded feet. This piece relates very closely to a sideboard signed by Leleu which we were privileged to handle in the past. Both feature similar rectangular extending stiles that overshoot the bases of their respective carcases and very similar base friezes and feet. In addition, a piece supplied by Leleu to the Galani family and sold at Sworders in 2021 has a very similar base.
The use of parquetry as on the present example is typical of Leleu’s style and the restrained and luxurious style of decoration that he typically preferred to employ. A restrained serpentine commode by Leleu is in the collection of the MusÈe des Arts DÈcoratifs in Paris and the present piece is also an exceptional example of the most fashionable taste of the period, combined with master craftsmanship.
Jules Leleu who was of the one key figures in the Art Deco movement. His family firm of Maison Leleu had existed since the eighteenth-century and he helped to guide it through much of the twentieth century with his gallery at 65 Avenue Franklin Roosevelt in Paris in the very centre of the fashionable retail centre of the city.
Leleu exhibited at the prestigious 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs, winning a Grand Prize there and one of his pieces was purchased by the Metropolitan Museum in New York (Acc.No. 46.93). He was also an active participant in the annual Salon DíAutomne and Salon des Artistes DÈcorateurs.
Leleu was a prolific ensemblier, with a large number of private and public clients including the French ocean liners, Ile-de-France, Atlantique, Normandie and France. Amongst other important commissions were a dining room for the …lysÈe Palace, and the Grand Salon des Ambassadeurs at La SocietÈ des Nations in Geneva, named the Salon Leleu, which is still in existence today. His pieces are highly prized and can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum in New York, the MusÈe les Arts DÈcoratifs, and Collection Mobilier National in Paris which holds over one hundred of his pieces.
Leleu is celebrated for his conception of refined antique furniture forms and precision craftsmanship. His furniture is generally spare and sleek. He made significant use of opulent materials that were a keynote of haute Art Deco design and favoured the use of woods with warm tones, such as amboyna, Macassar ebony, and as on this piece, walnut, all of which imparted richness and elegance. He had his own distinctive and sophisticated style, often sober and reflective of traditional French furniture design, but also modern in line and use of materials, and always in excellent taste.
This beautiful haute Art Deco piece would make a stunning statement piece in any contemporary home.
V.JUTHEAU ëJules & Andrew Leleuí (Olbia, 2000)
The highlight of Jules Leleu sales has to be the Grande Commode, constructed in shagreen, mahogany and gilt bronze which realised 198,750 Euros at Sothebyís Paris, 24 November 2010. More recently, a commode by the master made £35,000 and the associated sideboard £44,000 at Sworders in Essex in 2021. These pieces were made by Leleu for the Galani family-Greek shipping magnates with a home in Paris.
Width: 39 inches – 99cm
Height: 32 1/4 inches – 82cm
Depth: 16 1/4 inches – 41cm