Dubly Games Table (Model AR1076/NR1263)
Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (1879–1933, French)
macassar ebony wood, bronze and felt
29 1/2 x 36 x 36 inches
Designers Émile–Jacques Ruhlmann, Jean Dunand and René Lalique can be considered the triumvirate of French Art Deco. Ruhlmann designed this games table as part of a full interior design scheme for the apartment of Léon Dubly in 1927. Each of the four sides of the table contains a drawer with an ashtray and room for game pieces. The top of the table flips over to reveal red felt on the reverse. It is believed that six to eight tables of this design were made before Ruhlmann’s death in 1933. Ruhlmann was criticized for designing only for wealthy clients like Dubly, but the cost of producing his designs forced him to cater to the rich. Ruhlmann encouraged his clients to accept modern furniture, rather than reproductions of period styles, by incorporating luxurious materials and elegant designs that they would be comfortable with. This table incorporates several signatures of Ruhlmann’s Art Deco style, including delicate, tapered legs that end in bronze sabots (caps on the feet of the table), the use of expensive exotic woods like this macassar ebony and pared-down lines with metallic detailing (on the drawer handles and feet). The tall, slim legs of this table, which make up most of its vertical size, add the impression of height and fragility. The feet are not directly beneath the tabletop, but at a slight angle to it, making it seem as if the legs just barely prop the table up rather than supporting its full weight. This gives the table a lightness that might otherwise elude the dark-grained wood. Each of Ruhlmann’s table legs was also carved and veneered separately; it took a week to produce a single leg. Ruhlmann called this style a fuseau (spindle) leg, because it resembled the tapered spindles used in spinning.
ON VIEW in Art Deco Gallery 6
Collection Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art