Andre Arbus – Borrowed Blog

August 7, 2010

So here’s the deal.  I’m not lazy, I’m just resourceful.  I was shopping on and saw a Andre Arbus piece I really liked and thought I’d like to do a blog on him.  I like the idea of exposing readers to designers, furniture makers and architects that they might not be familiar with… anyway, so I googled Andre Arbus and eventually came across this blog post by Jean-Marc & Cynthia Fray on their blog: LeBlog.  My intent isn’t to impress you with my knowledge of antiques and fine furnishings, it’s simply to expose you to beautiful things and interesting people.  So… another Borrowed Blog courtesy of LeBlog, hope you enjoy!

André Leon Arbus was born near Toulouse, France on November 17, 1903. Emanating from a storied family of ébénistes, he continued the tradition of cabinet making in grand fashion, even broadening his area of expertise to architecture – home design, lighthouses and a remarkable ocean liner…

The Normandie

Arbus studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Toulouse. After graduating, he began working for his father’s firm. Throughout the 1930’s, he exhibited his work in Paris, Brussels and New York.

Cabinet by André Arbus, circa 1948, in painted wood with gilded bronze ornamentation.

A pair of ebonized armchairs with leather upholstery by André Arbus

Although Arbus ended the family tradition of producing 18th century style furniture, he incorporated many classic designs into his pieces, particularly those of the French Empire period. He rejected the tenets of the Union of Modern Artists (a popular and well known group of Art Nouveau and Art Deco artists) and continued to create pieces the “old fashioned” way, working with fine veneers, lacquers, parchment and bronze.

An Art Deco side table, circa 1945, by André Arbus draws from the French Directoire period.

A French Directoire period walnut side table, circa 1800.
A dining table by André Arbus, circa 1943, in rosewood veneer with lyre base.

Another Art Deco period dining table in rosewood veneer with lyre base.

During the 1940’s, Arbus was regularly contracted by the French government to furnish department headquarters and to “rejuvenate” national palaces. When the Elysée Palace was reopened after World War II, he worked with Jules Leleu to renovate the first floor of the central building.

He was commissioned by Le Mobilier National to design a desk for the U.S. Ambassador, W.H. Harriman, and to decorate the post World War II Medici Room of the Chateau de Rambouillet.

The Chateau de Rambouillet.

Arbus later focused his attention on architecture and built several farmhouses throughout France. Between 1947 and 1951, he renovated a lighthouse (originally constructed in the late 1700’s) on the Ilot du Planier, near Marseille.

The lighthouse at Ilot du Planier.

One of his most prominent works of this era was his contribution to the interiors of the S.S. Normandie, the largest, fastest and most luxurious ocean liner of the time.

The grand dining hall of The Normandie

One of the many lounges on The Normandie

Arbus spent the latter part of his life concentrating on bronze sculpture and passed away at the age of 66 in Paris. His talent inspired his contemporaries in France for years and his timeless styles continue to be reproduced by modern cabinet makers today.

A bronze table by André Arbus, circa 1949


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