Edouard Bénédictus (1878-1930) is known today primarily for his textile, wallpaper, and carpet designs. However, over the course of his prolific career spanning the first three decades of the twentieth century, from the Art Nouveau to the Art Deco movements, he was also a chemist, musician, composer, poet, critic, and theatrical costume designer. Born in Paris, Bénédictus entered the École des Arts Décoratifs in 1897 and, in 1900, he traveled to Darmstadt, Germany, to study chemistry, an interest that he continued to pursue after his return to Paris. Between 1900 and 1910, he worked primarily in cuir incrusté (inlaid leather), a technique for which he became well known; his panels and boxes featuring flowers, birds, and animals were regularly exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Dé corateurs. He also provided the illustrations for a series of articles by the artist Maurice Verneuil for Art et Décoration on adapting motifs from nature for decorative purposes. Bénédictus's renderings of insects, reptiles, and butterflies reflect the sinuous, organic forms of the Art Nouveau style.
In 1925, Bénédictus's monumental wall covering, Les Jets d'Eau (Fountains), was selected for prominent inclusion at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris. It was conspicuously displayed in the Grand Salon de Réception at the Ambassade Française. Created by members of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs, a collective of well-known architects and interior designers, this series of rooms showcased high-end French taste and championed the supremacy and prestige of French design. Five views of the Grand Salon, published in a commemorative album in 1925, show Les Jets d'Eau installed on two long walls and in recesses at either side of the door. Bénédictus also designed the room's floral-patterned octagonal carpet, woven by the Aubusson manufactory.
Les Jets d'Eau's modernity is evident in the stylized drawing of its design elements and its use of glossy rayon pattern wefts. Abundant, tiered water fountains, interspersed with vertical bands of overlapping flowers, extend in offset rows across the full selvedge width of the panel. The composition's large scale, with a repeat of sixty-one and a half inches, enhances its architectonic impact. Employing just three colors—a brick red cotton warp and yellow and black wefts, Bénédictus achieved a visual complexity through different weave structures—satin, plain, and twill, as well as weft floats—that juxtapose shiny and matte surfaces, particularly in the flowers' dense geometric filling patterns. These oversized, flattened motifs, with their rounded petals and variegated centers, correspond to many of Bénédictus's gouaches for Variations. In the fountains, the lustrous golden yellow wefts convey the shimmering sparkle of water.
For more information, see the Cora Ginsburg Modern 2018 catalogue.