The architect Walter Gropius was one of the fathers of contemporary design and, after the First World War, one of the founders of the celebrated Bauhaus school. Early in his career, in 1911, he was asked by Jewish philanthropists Albert and Toni Mendel to design all the furniture for the couple’s residence in the fashionable Berlin neighbourhood of Wannsee. This chest of drawers, which is from that prestigious commission, features bold bas-relief carved decoration. The piece is conservative in its aesthetics, indicating the continuing influence of the late nineteenth-century British Arts and Crafts movement, but also the spirit of the Vienna Secession, if not the early classicizing harmonies of French Art Deco. All references that, paradoxically, are completely antithetic to the principles of functionalism that Gropius would develop a few years later.
© Estate of Walter Gropius / SOCAN (2020)