French designer and ironworker Edgar Brandt (1880-1960) understood traditional materials and chose to explore their potential, besides using hand-tools, he also relied on machines. Brandt set up a workshop in 1901 and by 1925 was exhibiting on the world stage at the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industries).
A design he showed on this occasion was La Tentation, a lamp featuring a serpent. A subject of antiquity that appeared in ancient Greek, Roman and Egyptian culture as a creature to both be feared and revered. It was an exotic motif also employed by other leading Art Deco designers including René Lalique, Jean Dunand, Albert Chereut and Paul Jouve.
The serpent was a recurrent motif in Brandt’s work appearing on andirons, vases, cachepots, paperweights and incense burners, but is perhaps best remembered in his two lamps designs both of which were produced in bronze between 1920-26. This present example La Tentation being the larger of the two, the smaller being referred to as the Cobra. Both lamps were made to order and available in two sizes and this present lot is the larger version. They were of high quality, not only in terms of the sophistication of the design, but also in their execution and the attention paid to their finishing. Brandt employed specialists to patinate the pieces. La Tentation was a great commercial success and remain highly sought after still today by collectors.
La Simplicitée lamp by contrast illustrates Brandt’s passion for iron. The textured circular base supports soaring vertical elements conjoined by scrolling and foliate forms. Brandt’s lamp offered his customers move versatile lighting options than traditional fixed chandeliers provided.
In October 2021, our Design Since 1860 auction featured examples of both La Tentation and La Simplicitée lamps.
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