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Jean Dunand 'La Pêche' Panel

Jean Dunand's lacquer 'La Pêche' Panel was originally commisioned for the ship Normandie, a transatlantic ocean liner built in 1934 to sail from Le Havre to New York. The 313m long ship was the world's fastest in 1935 and its interior decoration was done by the world’s top French Art Deco artists. In this elaborate panel, Dunand conjures a fishing scene commonly depicted in the reliefs of ancient Egyptian tombs. Among the pleasures of an Egyptian noble's life were fishing excursions in the Nile Marshes. As two oarsmen propel the upper boat, a lookout in the stern shields his eyes, scoping the horizon for potential obstacles. In the lower boat, three men are shown pulling in a large fishing net replete with fish, whose silhouettes are rendered in such detail that their species can be determined. They include the bolti fish (Egyptian tilapia), elephant-nose fish, upside-down catfishes, and perch.

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  • Curator's Notes

Item #: B-20841
Artist: Jean Dunand
Country: France
Circa: 1934
Dimensions: 24.13" height, 22.36" width
Materials: Lacquer, Gold Leaf, Wood
Signed: Jean Dunand
Provenance: Private Collection, USA. Christie's, New York, 9 December 2003, lot 84. Acquired from the above by the present owner
Exhibition History: Reduced scale version of the panel executed by Dunand for the Smoking Room of the Normandie. cf. Félix Marcilhac. Jean Dunand: His Life and Works, 1991, p. 159 (pl. 154) and p. 318 (Cat. No. 1102).
Literature: Pictured in Maxtone-Graham John. 2007. Normandie : France's Legendary Art Deco Ocean Liner. 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton. p. 95

In 1912, Jean Dunand began producing his celebrated lacquers. Instructed by Seizo Sugawara, an influential Japanese artist/craftsman with whom he exchanged bronze metalwork secrets for lessons in lacquer, Dunand mastered and advanced lacquer arts never before practiced in Europe, but only poorly approximated by means of synthetic imitations.