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REF No. B66683-5
Paris, Circa 1889.

A Joseph-Émmanuel Zwiener Important and Rare Suite de Chambre à Coucher, comprised of an armoire, a double bed, and a dressing table with bois de bout floral marquetry on bois de violette veneers, amarante, the armoire with seventeen shelves.

Each piece stamped 'E. ZWIENER'.

Comprised of a double bed, a dressing table, and an armoire, this important and magnificent bedroom suite by Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener exemplifies the furniture maker's master artisanship and exhibits distinct similarities to another Zwiener bedroom suite, commissioned circa 1898 for Kaiser Wilhelm II, sold at Sotheby's, New York, June 29, 1989 and which is now in the permanent collection of Schloss Charlottenburg in Berlin.

Zwiener's work is remarkable for its organic, sculptural quality. In this he demonstrates a tendency toward the principles of combining the traditional Louis XV rococo style of the 18th century with the ultra-modern, contemporary Art Nouveau, representing a careful balance between decorative and compositional vocabulary, the stylish and the functional. In the present lot Zwiener's structures and end-cut marquetry celebrate nature's melodic and flowing forms.

Zwiener's innovations are apparent in the detailing on this bedroom suite, such as in the flowery gilt-bronze borders of the end-cut marquetry reserves of each of the pieces. A rose rests below a scallop-shaped crest of two doves on the swan-neck-form headboard, while a single hibiscus flower graces the footboard and cast foliate chutes of bare-breasted espagnolletes emerging from each corner. On the dressing table it is interesting to note Léon Messagé's signature 'wing' appearing at the top of the swiveling mirror plate, identifying his work on the bronze designs of this suite, while foliate-scrolled candlearms emerge on both sides, and a cast foliate chute, headed by ram's head, surfaces on each of the four table legs. The large armoire stands on six paw-footed legs and displays another scallop-shaped crest with a rose. Favoring the natural effects of inlaid work in the veneer, Zwiener designed his accompanying flower marquetry to be flat and with few sculptural illusions.

Joseph-Emmanuel Zwiener

Born in Herdon, Germany, in 1849, Joseph Emmanuel Zwiener worked in Paris between 1880 and 1895. He established his workshop at 12, rue de la Roquette, becoming one of the premiere haut luxe cabinetmakers of the late 19th century. The exceptional quality of Zwiener's craftsmanship and extensive usage of fine gilt-bronze invites comparisons to the work of famed ébéniste, François Linke (1855-1946). Zwiener almost certainly employed Linke, who was six years younger and a fellow German-speaker. Both cabinetmakers used mounts by the gifted sculptor, Léon Messagé, whose studio on the Rue Sedaine was in close proximity to the Zwiener workshops and Linke's at 170, rue du Faubourg Saint-Antoine. It is likely that Zwiener introduced Linke to Messagé's work.

Working in several styles fashionable in Paris at the time, Zwiener copied mainly Louis XV pieces from public collections, adapting them in his own exuberant interpretation of rococo. At the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1889, he received the gold medal and a note of high praise from the jurists: 'dés ses débuts d'une Exposition universelle, [il] s'est mis au premier rang par la richesse, la hardiesse et le fini de ses meubles incrustés de bronzes et fort habilement marquetés.' ('For a first-time exhibitor at a World Fair, [ZWIENER] stood amongst the first base upon his boldness, richness and the final execution of his gilt-bronze-mounted creations, skillfully veneered with elaborate marquetry.')

In 1895, Zwiener was summoned to Berlin at the request of German emperor Wilhelm II (1859-1941) at Schloss Neues Palais, Sans Souci, Potsdam. Among the works the Kaiser would commission was a gilt-bronze mounted tulipwood marquetry kingwood bedstead, circa 1895, with gilt-bronze work attributed not to Messagé, as in the present example, but to Otto Rohloff. This piece was exhibited at the Paris Universal Exhibition in 1900 [see: L' Exposition de Paris (1900), Encyclopedie du Siècle, Montgredien et Cie, Paris, Vol III, p. 288] and as previously stated, was later sold in these rooms in 1989. As noted in the brochure published by the curators of the Stately Castles and Gardens of Berlin, which acquired the Kaiser Wilhelm II commissioned Zwiener suite at auction from Sotheby's in 1989, 'The works of ? Zwiener represent a real highlight , even in comparison to his Parisian competitors. They, after a long period of rejection, are now achieving great interest with this growing recognition being reflected in auction results'. (1)

Kaiser Wilhelm II: German Emperor and King of Prussia

Although he admired the work of Parisian cabinetmakers, Kaiser Wilhelm II preferred the work of German craftsmen. Zwiener had produced a copy of a bureau du roi for Ludwig II in 1884, prior to receiving his summons from this Kaiser, but given that there were a number of notable German craftsmen working for the court at the time, Wilhelm's interest in Zwiener was significant. Always keen to tout the ideals of a Franco-German unification, Wilhelm was probably intrigued by the fact that Zwiener, a German, had found such success in Paris. The Kaiser's commission must have likewise been a strong inducement for Zwiener, who had spent so much of his professional life away from home.

The German Emperor (Kaiser) and King of Prussia from 1888 to the end of World War I in 1918, Wilhelm was the eldest child of Crown Prince Frederick (Emperor Frederick III) and Victoria. Arguably a militaristic yet indecisive leader, Wilhelm, despite being commander in chief of is armed forces, lost control of his generals following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in 1914. Following the surrender of Germany after World War I, Wilhelm abdicated and left for the Netherlands on November 18, 1918. His home in exile, 'Huis Doorn', was decorated with furniture by Zwiener (please see J. Julier, Kaiserlicher Kunnstbesitz aus dem Holländischen Exil Haus Doorn, pps. 287-291.)

(1) As translated from the German document, 'Eine Schlafzimmer-Ausstattung von Julius Zwiener. Ein Auftrag Kaiser Wilhelms II. fur das Berliner Schlösser 1895-1900,'KulturStiftung der Länder Stiftung Deutsche Klassenlotterie Berlin (H. Heeneman & Co.: Berlin, 1989)

'L'Exposition de Paris (1900), Encyclopedie du Siècle', Vol III, Montgredien et Cie, Paris, 1901, p. 288 and p. 300 for an engraving of a double bed with similarities to the one in the present lot, exhibited in the German pavillions at the Palais des Invalides;

H. Kriesel, 'Die Kunst des Deutschen Möbels, Möbel und Vertäfelungen des deutschen Sprachraums von den anfägen bis zum Jugendstil', C.H. Beck, Munchen, 1973, pl. 908 for an contemporary photograph showing the Wilhelm II bedroom suite taken circa 1904 at Schloss Charlottenburg;

'Verwaltung der Staatlichen Schlösser und Gärten Berlin, Eine Schlafzimmer-Ausstattung von Julius Zwiener. Ein Auftrag Kaiser Wilhelms II. fur das Berliner Schlösser 1895-1900', H. Heenemann & Co., Berlin, 1989;

D. Ledoux-Lebard, 'Le Mobilier Français du XIX Siècle', pp. 645-648 for J. E. Zwiener. See also p. 645, where Ledoux-Lebard mentions under the Collection Particulière de Mr P. Lécoules, a Louis XV style bedroom suite, which is the present lot;

Dr. Jurgen Julier, 'Kaiserlicher Kunnstbesitz aus dem Holländischen Exil Haus Doorn', Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten, Berlin 1991, p. 196;

Payne, Christopher: 'François Linke, 1855 - 1946, The Belle Epoque of French Furniture', 2003., p. 244.

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