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Georges Hoentschel, 1855 – 1915 (attributed to)
France

Symbolist wardrobe with apple-tree décor, circa 1910.

Solid oak, hand carved & painted.
Corner feet extend from rounded uprights. Adjustable height shelf.
190 x 165 x 63 cm

Provenance:

- Special order made for « Les Nonettes », the hunting lodge of couturier Jacques Doucet, at Erquigny in the Clermont region.

Since Doucet did not leave any personal archives, in the present state of our knowledge the identity of the designer of this piece remains something of an enigma.

The ‘rough-cut’ workmanship of the main body suggests the hand of an artist rather than that of a traditional cabinetmaker: it is entirely hand-worked, with the scoring of the chisel voluntarily left visible in contrast to the smooth polychrome surface of the golden apple tree.
If Georges Hoentschel was not the creator, it is more than likely that it was an artist moving in his circle. Hoentschel was a man of parts, in turn antique dealer, architect, interior decorator, furniture designer, ceramic artist and collector. He was a friend of Doucet, and from 1904 to 1907 was in charge of the fit-out of the couturier’s townhouse on rue Spontini in Paris.

He is known to be the creator of a stoneware vase with bronze mount, and of ceramic fruit – works that show strong similarities to different parts of the apple-tree décor.
As for the hypothesis that the piece was made by someone in Hoentschel’s entourage, one likely candidate is his collaborator the painter and decorator Adrien Karbowski, who did an armchair in sculpted wood of the same provenance as this wardrobe. Hoentschel introduced Karbowski to Doucet, for whom he made several pieces of furniture and advised him on the layout of his houses.

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