Monday, January 30, 2012

Lallemant: Rolling the ball

photo Plaisir de France

Captivating Lallemant. There - I thought I’d get the decorator’s name in right away, because he’s new to me and though I don't know much about him, I’m suddenly very enthusiastic. Maybe it's because he's a little mysterious still.

And maybe I'm making a rash judgement basing my interest on very little. It all began with this one appealing salon that first drew me in with its ringed rug.  How many times have I skimmed this picture imagining the promise of  our universe calm, classically arranged and beautifully colored at my feet? Then came the scanty bits I discovered about Lallemant on the internet; a little knowledge is a dangerous thing?

This apartment is the only example I have seen of his interior work. The ceiling is not high but that’s not a problem here. I like the way the lighting for bookshelves is integrated into the neat overhanging coffer which continues with intelligent shelving on the sides; a coffer alone on the ceiling would have cut down the impression of height. The rug expands the space too. Everything is in its place, ship shape. The theme is astronomical: metal spheres are used as supports for the coffee table;  the mirror frame is painted with planets and is perfectly aligned to the contours of the globes over the mantel; there's an armillary sphere next to the desk on the right. (Click to enlarge.)

photo Plaisir de France

This is the dining room that faces the above space and repeats the rounded shapes in the rug, table and chairs. A collection of antique ceramics occupies the end wall. With simplicity, very defined interests are indicated.

I have been wondering if this apartment on the avenue Montaigne belonged to an astonomer, an explorer, or very chic astrologer - maybe Yaguel Didier in a past life.  What I have discovered of Robert Lallemant is that he is famous for ceramics (which explains the importance given to their display) but I find nothing elsewhere about his interior decoration work. 

photo Drouot

lamp La belle aventure  photo Artnet
In 1923, reports Ceramique 1900, "he buys a small workshop of "bleus de Sèvres" at 5 passage d'Orléans in the 13th district of Paris, which he later moved to Quai d'Auteuil. He starts then, with the help of 
his wife, a very avant-gardiste production. For each of his models he makes a 
drawing then a plaster on which he keeps working until he gets a perfect shape; then he makes a mould." His early works of 'mecanical faience' often have images of France, proverbs, popular songs, sport, history, geography, myth.... the style is charming and often resembles the work of illustrators Jean-Emile Laboureur or Charles Martin.  He is one of the rare artists of this medium, along with Jean Luce, to have created ceramic works in the true spirit of modern creation of the 1920s.

See more examples here.

photo Christie's vase 1930

His geometric models show the same artistic preoccupations as in the top picture.

Christie’s biographical notice says,

A pupil of the ceramicist Raoul Lachenal during the early 1920s, Robert Lallemant worked mainly with faience, exhibiting his early independant work at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs and the Salon d'Automne. He swiftly received positive reviews, which in turn led to an exhibition at the Berheim Jeune gallery in 1929, alongside Djo-Bourgeois, Pierre Barbe and the Martel brothers, where he concentrated on works in ceramic.
A founding member of the UAM in 1929, Lallemant contributed furniture, combining wood, metal and glass, to the inaugural exhibition at the Salon de Marsan the following year. In 1933 Lallemant joined his father-in-law's public works company, and in so doing abandoned his successful artistic career.

photo galerie Patrick Seguin

We do see armillary inspiration in the period as demonstrated by this famous example by Jean Royère made in 1940. Lallemant stopped his design career in 1933. Maybe his table inspired Royère?

photo Christie's

photo Drouot

photo ebay

Robert Lallemant (1902-1954)
photo Christie's 
Spheres and round shapes show up frequently.

photo source: livre-rare-book
During WW II, he was for a time in charge of the military service artistique and he also sailed regularly with the Marine Française where he documented life aboard ship with uncommon artistry.

photo by Lallemant at galerie Verdeau

Other photographs attest to his travels through Africa. 
We don't know why he chose to give up an enormously successful career in ceramics, but it looks like the themes of the apartment above and the ceramics I have chosen to illustrate this post may have demonstrated his own interests and desire to explore other horizons.
Robert Lallemant lived from 1902 to 1954, and left traces of a short but well-filled life.


  1. Tre JoJo. Love the apartment and all the modern touches. Great research on your part.

  2. Thank you, Donna. I was hoping to flesh out the missing character more, but a little bit of mystery is a lure.

  3. I'm taken with the ceramics. They remind me - a bit - of Atelier Primavera. I like the spirit of fun in them.

  4. Yes, they seem familiar but I hadn't put the name of Primavera to them. Will look more closely. What strikes me with the illustrated work is that the playfulness is sophisticated and a tad folksy too!

  5. Very informative & enjoyable post dahhling.

  6. HRH, I thank you for commenting.

  7. That is a big part of the attraction along with the spheres going round. I'd probably have piles of books and fabrics all over if I lived there and spoil the effect!