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1938 Art deco sofa by Maison Franck Antwerpen


An extraordinary and rare pair of fauteuils by Maison Franck Antwerpen in an international art deco style. Maison Franck is known for its rather generous, neo-classical, Louis XVI & baroque style often using tortoiseshell as their trademark. A reference to the antique Flemish Cabinets.

However, it occurred that Maison Franck designed in the more modern and young International art deco style. Rather than sticking to a certain model, Maison Franck took the opportunity to work out and produce models that would fit the specific demands of their high standard clientele. From Frans Franck ( who died suddenly in 1932) we know that he traveled frequently to Paris and that he had access to the book ‘Croquis de Ruhlmann’ (sketches by Ruhlmann) which was among the books in his library. In a text, named ‘The furniture and interior design of Maison Franck of Antwerp’ by the Antwerp dealer Erik Mullendorf, we can see a picture of a desk that was intended for the Diamond trade fair in New York 1939, also in this young international style which we see in the work of Ruhlmann.


From the information of the archives of Maison Franck, combined with the certification of the previous owners we learned that these pair of fauteuils were ordered on demand for an international Diamond trade fair in NYC in 1939. Other pieces ordered for this fair were a desk, a conference table, a coffee table, cabinet, etc… all in remarkable chic, young and elegant style like the work of certain French masters like Jacques-Emile Ruhlmann.

Most probably the initial order of the furniture in 1938 was placed by Romi Goldmuntz (at that moment already a loyal client to the Maison Franck atelier)


On Romi Goldmuntz:

He was a Belgian businessman, who played an essential role in the survival of the diamond business in Antwerp. In 1920, his diamond company employed about 600 workers. Romi and his brother Léopold were important customers of the Diamond Trading Company (DTC, a subsidiary of De Beers). After World War I,  in 1918 he persuaded the people who had lived in exile in the Netherlands during the war, to return to Antwerp. He succeeded again after World War II in 1945, to convince those living in New York to return to Belgium. Romi Goldmuntz also founded the Diamond Office in Antwerp. The cultural center Romi Goldmuntz Center and the Great Synagogue Romi Goldmuntz in Antwerp are named after him. (source Wikipedia)


Due to the start of World War II, however, the 1939 Diamond trade fair in NYC had to be canceled and the furniture stayed at the ateliers of Maison Franck in Antwerp. After the war, Maison Franck re-started their activities and sold this ensemble together with a table and a cabinet to an Antwerp jewelers family in 1948. They have owned these pieces until recently.


Source: The furniture and interior design of Maison Franck of Antwerp by Erik Müllendorf  for full-text follow link https://www.jstor.org/stable/23409196?seq=1