Several weeks ago I received a very funny email from Janet Calderwood of Calderwood Gallery. In this email Janet writes that the current mega-watt “Picasso and the Avant-Garde in Paris” exhibit, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, is only view through April 25th but that French avant-garde design is always on display at her gallery. How true this is! Janet and Gary Calderwood have been in business for over thirty years and have incredible taste and knowledge, and it doesn’t hurt that they are two of the nicest people that I have ever met!
The Calderwood Gallery specializes in French furniture from the first half of the twentieth-century. Their extensive collection includes furniture by masters such as Jacques Adnet, Maurice Dufrene, Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann, Sue et Mare, and Dominique, just to name a few. And I really mean a few, as the gallery displays a vast amount of inventory in their 25,000 square foot space.
Some of my favorite pieces include a library cabinet, ca. 1900 in Ceylonese wood, by Edouard Colonna (1862-1948), which was retailed at L’Art Nouveau Bing, the Parisian shop which belonged to Siegfried Bing and from which the movement of Art Nouveau received its name. The beautiful molded wood corners, with their sinuous lines, and stained glass are so quintessentially Art Nouveau. Another beauty is the cabinet by Paul Iribe (1883-1935) in ebonized wood, exotic hardwood, and marquetry from ca. 1923. Iribe was a brilliant designer who lent his talents not just furniture design but was as a caricaturist, who also worked with the equally brilliant Paul Poiret and his decorating firm, Maison Martine. Iribe designed textiles, wallpaper and even jewelry. His interior for Madame Spinelly, a French cabaret singer on par with Josephine Baker, was the talk of the town when it was first unveiled in the 1920s. His furniture was also found in the home of Jacques Doucet, one of the most important fashion designers of the twentieth-century. In this cabinet we can see one of Iribe’s favorite motifs, the rose, which was later simply referred to as the “rose Iribe.” Iribe’s work is highly sought after by collectors because it is so rare. So it is a real treat to be able to see it here. An interesting but, perhaps, little known fact is that Iribe’s assistant was Paul Legrain, who went on to become an important designer in his own right. They also have a fabulous chair (ca. 1920) by Ruhlmann which is a variant on his “Napoleon” model and is this only such model in existence. My list of favorites from the Calderwood Gallery can really go on and on as there is so much to admire.
Although I do not get out to Philadelphia much I get the pleasure of speaking with the Calderwoods at various art shows that they participate in. They are incredibly knowledgeable and are always willing to share some of that knowledge with their clients and friends. The passion that they have for the things that the sell really shines and it’s a delight to be in their company. They have also, recently, opened a second gallery called Calderwood 2 which focuses on furniture and objects from the second half of the twentieth-century. This gallery is run by their son.
And on a final note, as I had mentioned in one of my previous blogs, the gallery has now teamed up with Iliad Antik in New York (at 212 East 57th Street ) so they have a full-time presence here as well.
If you go: Calderwood Gallery 1622 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Open Tues-Fri and by appointment. http://www.calderwoodgallery.com