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Armand Albert Rateau

Rateau, Armand Albert (French interior and furniture designer, 1882-1938)

Armand Albert Rateau (1882-1938) was a French designer, furniture maker, architect, and interior decorator. Trained at the École Boulle in Paris, he became the artistic director of the design firm Alavoine and Company at only twenty-three years of age. In 1919, he opened his own firm that catered to a small group of wealthy clients. His name and work became well known for his contributions to the Art Deco style gaining popularity at the time. At the height of his career in the 1920s and 30s, Rateau took commissions for French government offices, foreign embassies, and businesses like Tiffany & Co. and fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin. His work on private estates often entailed restoring or recreating period details, like the late-medieval wood carving and pavements at Leeds Castle in Kent.

In 1926, the Blisses’ architect Lawrence Grant White hired Rateau to reproduce a French Renaissance ceiling and parquet floor for the Dumbarton Oaks Music Room. Ever the exacting artist, Rateau traveled to Dumbarton Oaks in person to see his creations installed in the Music Room in 1928. Upon seeing the design for the first time, Lawrence Grant White wrote to Robert Bliss, saying that Rateau's reproduction captured the color and style so perfectly that it appeared to be a genuine antique.

Mildred Bliss clearly shared White’s enthusiasm for Rateau’s style. A month after he installed the ceiling and floor, Rateau returned to Dumbarton Oaks to meet with Mildred Bliss, Lawrence White, and Beatrix Farrand to discuss further design work. He advised on Music Room décor and furnishings, and Mildred Bliss hired him to renovate the Oval Room and Living Room. In 1929, she requested his input on garden ornaments, and he submitted around 30 sketches of finials, vases and baskets, benches, gates, and sculptures. Many elements of Rateau’s sketches are echoed in garden ornaments designed by Beatrix Farrand that are present in the gardens today.

 

References:

“Armand Albert Rateau, biography.” Willy Huybrechts Gallery. Last modified 2008.  http://willy-huybrechts-gallery.com/biographies-of-art-deco-artists/armand-albert-rateau-biography

Carder, James. “Armand Albert Rateau Architectural Plans and Drawings.” Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Dumbarton Oaks Archives. Last modified November 9, 2012. http://www.doaks.org/library-archives/dumbarton-oaks-archives/architectural-plans-and-drawings/armand-albert-rateau-architectural-plans-and-drawings

Carder, James, Editor. A Home of the Humanities: The Collecting and Patronage of Mildred and Robert Woods Bliss. Washington, DC: Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 2010.