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Sold Archive: Modern Textiles

Les Giroflées block-printed cotton curtain
Atelier Martine
French, ca. 1923
105 x 46 in. (266.7 x 116.8 cm)
For his interior decorating firm Martine, Paul Poiret recruited untrained girls of about twelve from the working-class districts of Paris to attend his new school, named after his second daughter, and brought his troupe of naïfs to conservatories, zoos, and the countryside to paint watercolors with "untamed naturalness." From these, Poiret chose the designs best suited to reproduction. Eventually, Martine consisted of three branches: the école, where the girls created their designs; the atelier, where products such as textiles, carpets, glassware, and bibelots were manufactured; and the maison, the retail shop. It was a huge success: only one year after opening, the enterprise was earning three million francs per month, ultimately opening branches around France, as well as in London and Vienna. Its textiles were also available from retailers in Germany and America, such as Chambord Inc., in New York. Well into the 1920s, its aesthetic still shocked; in 1925, Art et Décoration noted that Martine remained the most "audacious" school of decoration in Paris.

Created in 1923, thia textile possibly called Les Giroflées (Wallflowers), though the common four-petaled variety does not appear. Instead, stylized primroses, daisies, tulips, and ranunculus form a tapestry of painterly forms evoking a cascade of blooms or an aerial view of a garden path. Each curtain consists of one full width of linen, block-printed with hues of pink, fuchsia, brown, beige, red, yellow, purple, and green. Layering colors (brown over yellow, pink over purple) creates an even more complex array of tonalities, while areas left undyed form white daisies. Les Giroflées was a favorite textile for Poiret, who used it for curtains and screens at his Biarritz branch (see Palmer White, Poiret, 1971, p. 147; and Yvonne Deslandres, Poiret, 1986, p. 298 (erroneously dated to 1919) and at his showrooms on the Champs-Élysées, opened in 1925 (see Paul Poiret et Nicole Groult: Maîtres de la mode art déco, 1986, cat. 110). A printed velvet version was featured in Les arts de la maison (vol. 1, 1923, pl. xviii), and the following year, the periodical included a color plate of a Martine bedroom decorated with a floor cushion in this fabric (vol. 2, 1924, pl. xxiv). In 1927, Poiret chose this fabric for the walls, beds, and furniture in cabins on the steamship Île-de-France.

For more information, see the Cora Ginsburg Modern 2018 catalogue.

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