Jean-Michel Frank (1895-1941)

Suite composed of a three-seat sofa and a pair of club armchairs, circa 1935.

Certificat n°2023/1910 du Comité Jean-Michel Frank.

Commissioned by couturière Marcelle Chaumont, a leading figure in Parisian haute couture from the early 20s until 1952, this set has features that are rare if not unique in Frank’s work.

Immediately noticeable, they include seats that project forward from armrests, a guarantee of added comfort; armrest sleeves that overhang their base; and feet overlaid with a fine patina of gold leaf.

It seems that this type of sofa and armchair with projecting seat was reserved for special commission clients, most of whom have been identified, unlike the Confortable model with its cubic lines and leather upholstery by Hermès, made in limited series and sold at the Frank boutique.

Archive photos show a relationship between this suite and:

– a single variant of a sofa with projecting seat and rounded armrests, made in two models, one covered in cloth (photos 1-1bis), the other in leather (photo 2), for the apartment of perfumer Jean-Pierre Guerlain;

– seven armchairs with projecting seat and armrest sleeve overhang (photos 3 to 8) showing a few variations, probably designed in pairs, like the pair for Jorge Born, even if only one of each is to be seen in the photos of the others. Five of these are upholstered in leather; one is ‘left blank’ pending the choice of a covering material; and one is covered in cloth for Jean-Pierre Guerlain, partly visible in the photo of his apartment.

Going on archives and various publications, insofar as we know at present there does not seem to be any other complete living room suite like this one with projecting seat and gold-leaf feet. Only the armchair (or armchairs?) for Elisabeth Spitzer may possibly have had gold-leaf feet.

Indeed,very few pieces using gold were made by the Ateliers Chanaux*, excepting a wall bracket with old gold patina for Marcelle Chaumont, who was fond of white interiors enhanced with gold; a few rare seats; and sofas with gold-leafed high legs for Nelson Rockefeller, of a style very different from this set.

Elsewhere, Alberto Giacometti made for Frank gold-leafed light fittings in plaster, wood and bronze, as well as a wall bracket in gold-leafed plaster, also for Nelson Rockefeller.

* Adolphe Chanaux was in partnership with Frank from the 1920s to 1941; he was specifically in charge of furniture making and the overseeing of fit-outs, Frank being the art director for Chanaux et associés.

Closer examination reveals other rare and refined details: the low side cross braces of the seats have an elegant concave curve; the rear cross braces form an angle with the slant of the backrest; the feet of the sofa are much larger front than back, while those of the armchairs are the opposite.

Lastly, the relationship between the imposing mass of the sofa and that of the armchairs is remarkably balanced.

To sum up, this unique suite exudes the feeling of balance and fullness of line specific to Frank, as Léopold Diego Sanchez has so aptly put it:

‘Proportion, space, form and matter combine to create the mystery of line that is known as the Frank line.’ Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Editions du Regard, 1997, page 17.


– Marcelle Chaumont (1891-1990) was a leading collaborator of Madeleine Vionnet (1876-1975) from 1912 to 1939, before founding her own maison de couture avenue Georges V, where she was active from 1939 to 1952; in the postwar period one of her young collaborators was Pierre

Cardin. As early as the late 20s Marcelle Chaumont was a regular client of Frank and Chanaux, who did the fit-out of her townhouse on square Pétrarque, Paris 16 (photos 9-9bis), her country house in the Limousin, and probably her maison de couture just before the departure of Frank for the United States.

– Private collection, France.

Dimensions sofa +/- a few mm or cm depending on padding:

length 240,5 cm, width front to back 110 cm, height backrest app. 82,5 cm, height seat seat cushion app. 44 cm, height armrests app.54 cm.

Dimensions armchairs +/- a few mm or cm depending on padding:

length 78,5 cm, width front to back 98 cm, height backrest app. 80 cm, height seat cushion app. 44 cm, height armrests app. 52 cm.


Frame and feet are original, restored by master craftsman. Original gold-leaf cleaned and restored. Traditional upholstery strictly to model. Handwoven Japan silk and cachmere fabric created by Sylvie Johnson, in the spirit of thick fabrics favoured by Jean-Michel Frank.

Authentification :

Certificate n°2023/1910 from Comité Jean-Michel Frank.

Neither the sofa nor the pair of armchairs bear a stamp, but this is quite frequent and does not cast doubt on authenticity.

As Pierre-Emmanuel Martin-Vivier points out in his study: ‘Objects and pieces of furniture outsourced by the ateliers, and also probably those passed off the accounts, escaped from numbering. Examples include the Jorge Born commission (c.1939) several pieces of which are not stamped by either Chanaux or Frank.’

Martin-Vivier Pierre-Emmanuel, Jean-Michel Frank l’étrange luxe du rien , Editions Norma, Paris, 2006, p. 245.


– Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Editions du Regard, Paris 1997.

– Martin-Vivier Pierre-Emmanuel, Jean-Michel Frank l’étrange luxe du rien, Editions Norma, Paris, 2006.

– Chanaux Archives / Marcilhac Archives.

– Thierry Spitzer Archives for the Comité Jean-Michel Frank.

A complete dossier is available on demand.

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