Key facts

Upholstered settee
Architonic ID:
United Kingdom

Product description

Designed 1938, executed by Green & Abbott, pink and red melton wool, brass nails.
36in. (92cm.) height; 841⁄2in. (215cm.) width; 26in. (66cm.) approximate depth
It is thought that between four and six settees were made by the decorator John Hill's firm Green and Abbott, of 123 Wigmore Street, London. Jean-Michel Frank had intended to direct two settees, possibly executed by Green and Abbott, to the Parisian boutique of Elsa Schiaparelli, however they were apparantly not delivered. One of these 'Shocking Pink' satin-upholstered examples is on loan from the Edward James Foundation to the Victoria & Albert Museum, London. The location of the second satin example, recorded in the late 1930s as having been in the dance room of the home of the Baron Roland de l'Esprée, is not known. On loan to the Museum of the Moving Image, London, is a more elongated version of the settee, with red wool seat and black wool apron. This example is one of a pair from the dining room of Monkton House. The second example of this pair remains with the Edward James Foundation. A two-tone pink wool example, identical to the example offered, was purchased by Brighton Art Gallery and Museum from the Edward James Foundation in 1983.
Edward James was one of the most important figures in English Surrealism. Monkton House was a remote country retreat, built by Edwin Lutyens in 1902, on the grounds of West Dean, Sussex. James patronised many of the luminaries of contemporary art during the early 1930s, to include the painter Paul Nash who conceived a Modernist bathroom for James's home on Wimpole Street, London. As the decade progressed James's passion for Surrealism, enhanced by his friendship with Salvador Dali, became increasingly confident. By the close of the 1930s Surrealistic flamboyance had engulfed the original Arts and Crafts identity of Monkton. Ben Nicholson's architect brother Kit, assisted by Hugh Casson, executed most of James's modifications to Monkton. Dali's original inspiration for the 'Mae West' lip sofa was probably the painting 'The Birth of Paranoiac Furniture', 1934-35. The Edward James Foundation was established in 1964.
Lit.: Philip Wilson, A Surreal Life, Edward James, Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, 1998, p.50 (the design illustrated);
Martin Battersby, The Decorative Thirties, London, 1971, p.176;
Salvador Dali, Tate Gallery, London, Exhib. Cat., No.132;
Léopold Diego Sanchez, Jean-Michel Frank, Paris, 1980, pp.139-141;