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    A large dark green patinated floor lamp ‘aux oiseaux’, 1921 (1.5-2 million) courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2013. (Click on image to enlarge).

    Detail from a large dark green patinated floor lamp ‘aux oiseaux’ courtesy Christie’s Images Ltd., 2013.

    An exceptional group of furniture by French Art Deco cabinet maker, Armand Albert Rateau (1882-1938) for the private apartments of the Duchess of Alba, doña María del Rosario de Silva y Gurtubay (1900-1934) in the Liria Palace, Madrid will come under the hammer at Christie’s Paris on May 23. Commissioned between 1920-1921 by her husband, Jacobo Fitz-James Stuart y Falco (1878-1953), 17th Duke of Alba, probably on the occasion of their marriage on 7th October 1920 at the Spanish Embassy in London, these pieces are amongst the most famous and legendary creations produced by the designer/cabinet maker/sculptor, trained at the renowned École Boulle.
    The project was one of the three prestigious commissions that launched Rateau’s career after he began working independently in 1919. The first was the Blumenthal swimming pool in New York, followed in early 1920 by a call from Jeanne Lanvin to design the interior of her mansion, rue Barbet-de-Jouy in Paris, as well as her houses in Le Vésinet. The Duke of Alba commission arrived soon. Among the pieces on offer at Christie’s art two large dark green patinated floor lamps “aux oiseaux”(1.5-2 million each), a dark green patinated bronze and black marble low table “aux oiseaux” (1.5-2 million), a dark green patinated and marble dressing table (600,000-800,000), a carved giltwood and bronze adjustable day bed (400,000-600,000) and a white marble bath tub (150,000-200,000), all dating from 1921.
    With origins dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries the House of Alba is one of the most important families of the Castilian high nobility and the most celebrated in Spain.

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