Some of his most famous designs were created at this period, notably the Ours Polaire series of seating with soft rotund forms resembling rudimentary arctic ursines or the Etoile series of furniture, which combined the centuries-old technique of straw marquetry with more contemporary curves.
Two recent New York sales produced some spectacular results for 1950s Royère.
On May 24 Sotheby’s (25/20/12.9%) offered an entire ensemble of Ours Polaire and Etoile designs created for a private home in France in 1958, a fully documented commission that had been in the same family from new. A couple of weeks later, Phillips (25/20/12% buyer’s premium) obtained a multi-estimate price for a single straw marquetry piece, a version of the Flaque table that embodies Royère’s biomorphism.
The Etoile series of furniture which combined the centuries-old technique of straw marquetry with more contemporary curves
Dumont family commission
Sotheby’s suite was made for the Dumont family and documented in the designer’s archive, now in the Musée des Art Decoratifs, where there are tracing paper studies and photographs of the dining room and living room.
On offer were six lots: all found buyers with the 6ft 11in (2.1m) Etoile sideboard topping the list at $1.45m (£1.09m), a record for Royère.
This was followed at $650,000 (£488,720) for a pair of Ours Polaire armchairs with beech frames upholstered in alpaca wool. An Ours Polaire sofa realised $345,000 (£259,400); a 4ft (1.2m) diameter Etoile dining table $350,000 (£263,155); an Etoile low table $400,000 (£300,750) and a set of six ebonised beech and alpaca upholstered dining chairs $270,000 (£203,010).
The design for Phillips’ Flaque table was first conceived by Royère in 1947. The original model, created for his own home, had an opaline glass top decorated with red stars on sheet metal legs.
The straw marquetry on wood versions came later, with Phillips’ version the model exhibited at the Salon des art Menagères in 1954. It had a provenance to a private collection in France, the Galerie Jacques Lacoste, Paris and the Hemisphere Gallery, London where it was acquired by the vendor in the early 1990s.
Offered on June 6 with an estimate of $180,000-250,000, it doubled that guide to take $480,000 (£360,900), the highest price of the sale and for any Flaque table at auction.