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Lot 54: A SUITE OF SIX EERO SAARINEN TULIP CHAIRS, CIRCA 1960''S

Four Single Owner Collections (and other vendors)

by Leonard Joel

December 4, 2016

Woollahra, Australia

Live Auction
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Description: A SUITE OF SIX EERO SAARINEN TULIP CHAIRS, CIRCA 1960''S
Comprising four armless chairs (model BR 51) and two arm chairs (model BR50), constructed in moulded fibreglass and enamelled cast aluminium, with red upholstered cushions, each approx 81cm high (6)




PROVENANCE:
Marion Best Pty Ltd, Queen St Woollahra, 1961
Breakfast room, ''Penhallow,'' Castlecrag, 1961
The Collection of Richard ''Dick'' (1913-1989) and Joan Crebbin


EXHIBITIONS:
''20th Century Room'' designed Marion Best Pty Ltd, ''Rare and Beautiful things: an Exhibition'' Art Gallery of NSW, 16 November to 19 November, 1961 arranged by the Art Gallery Society
''Sydney Style, Marion Hall Best/Interior Designer'', Greenway Gallery Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, July 31 - October 17 1993, cat. no. 204 (single chair and side table)


LITERATURE:
Rare and Beautiful Things: an Exhibition catalogue Art Gallery of NSW 1961
Babette Hayes and April Hersey, Australian Style, Paul Hamlyn, 1970, illustrated p 87
Catriona Quinn, Sydney Style, Marion Hall Best Interior Designer Historic Houses Trust 1993, illustrated p 5
Michaela Richards, The Best Style, Craftsman House, 1993 illustrated p 101


OTHER NOTES:
The Crebbins'' suite of Tulip chairs and Pedestal furniture''s unique provenance distinguishes it from any other previously sold. Its place in Australian design history make this setting rare even amongst other museum quality modernist furniture.

From 1950 Marion Best alone, amongst all other Australian interior designers, travelled the world to set up import agreements to bring the best of modernist design to her clients from Asia, Europe, Scandinavia and North and South America. On her way home from the 1954 Milan Triennale, Best stopped in New York to visit the Knoll showrooms to secure the agency. The showroom design - Japanese sliding screens, colour combinations and a water feature - left an ''everlasting impact''. By the late 1950s, Best''s brief years of exclusivity with Knoll had begun and the imports started arriving.

In November 1961, the first Saarinen ''Tulip'' chairs and Pedestal table made their first Australian appearance, taken straight from the shipyards to the Art Gallery of NSW, where Best installed the setting in her ''20th Century Room'' at a public exhibition Leslie Walford had organised for the Art Gallery Society. Best placed Saarinen''s dining setting at the centre of a minimalist space, almost contemplative in its backdrop of Japanese temple blinds, Tapio Wirrkala light sculpture and Carl Plate painting, yet luxurious with thick pile carpet and light bouncing off the Chinese red glazed ceiling. The exhibition sparked a rage for the Saarinen furniture and it soon appeared in all Best''s finest interiors, including Lady (Mary) Fairfax''s white on white beach pad at Bondi.

The Crebbins purchased the Saarinen setting direct from Best''s Art Gallery exhibition, a practice that continued for many years. The dining chairs and table were part of Best''s scheme for the family''s breakfast room where they were eventually joined by furnishings bought from her 1967 ''Room for Mary Quant'' including chrome pendant lights by iitala, a Danish rug and an Eero Aarnio ''Ball'' chair since acquired by Sydney Living Museums. Exhibition rooms were the locale for Marion Best''s most experimental work, boosted by the sure support of her most adventurous clients.


Condition Report: Mostly in good order with some light wear consummate to age and use, one chair with graze to edge, visible in image provided.


The opinions expressed in the condition reports are a guide only and should not be treated as a statement of fact. Prospective buyers are encouraged to inspect articles for sale at our pre-sale viewing where Leonard Joel staff are available for advice.
Leonard Joel makes no guarantee of the originality of mechanical or applied components. Absence of reference to such modifications does not imply that a lot is free from modifications.

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