August 10, 2009

Lovely Parting Gift: Gerrit Rietveld Dollhouse

rietveld_dollhouse_sothebys.jpg

I thought I'd tracked down every last kid-related design Gerrit Rietveld ever made, but it turns out I'd only covered the furniture, not the dollhouses [!].

Gerrit Rietveld presented the plans for this dollhouse to the Jesse family, repeat patrons, as "a parting gift" following a 1940 visit by the architect. But those Jesse kids must have been pretty naughty, because their parents waited until Christmas 1952 to give it to them. They had it fabricated by a local carpenter that September.

The house surfaced at the first big Rietveld auction in Amsterdam in 1988, where New York dealer Barry Friedman was hoovering up product for his big Rietveld centenary show later that fall. It was bought by Warhol's former manager Fred Hughes. In December 2004, three years after Hughes's death, it turned back up at auction at Sotheby's with a $15-20,000 estimate:

Lot 621: the two stories comprising three bedrooms and two bathrooms, with electricity, chimney and back yard; interior furnishings include master bed, bunk beds, two cradles, dressing table, stool, bookcase with books, sofa, four armchairs, desk, six ''Zig-Zag'' chairs, two tables, five side tables, kitchen cabinet, stove, coat rack, three garden chairs and garden table

one cradle inscribed 9-2-52/C.V.G.

But it didn't sell. Which probably means that veteran Mark McDonald got a sweet deal on it after the auction, because it turned up last fall in his booth at the Modernism show with a $30,000 price tag. Look how they had to move all the patio furniture inside because of the roving gangs of Park Avenue toughs:

rietveld_mcdonald_artnet.jpg

Even in the middle of a financial market meltdown, $30K seemed like a sweet price for 3BR/2BA furnished prewar [sic] duplex, because the Brooklyn Museum snapped it up.

Sale: N08036, LOT 621: GERRIT THOMAS RIETVELD, DOLLHOUSE FOR THE JESSE FAMILY, est. 15,000--20,000 USD, 18 Dec 2004 [sothebys.com]
Modernism Design Show report, image at Artnet [artnet]

3 Comments

This is fantastic. I blogged about it at www.elledecoration.co.za today.

Hallo,

Nice these colour photo's of the Rietveld dolls' house. I only know the black&white photo's made by Rutger Jesse. I have written an aticle about this dolls' house for a Dutch magazine: Dolls House Nederland. I have trided to find out what happend to it, but could not trace it.
Are you sure this Rietveld dolls' house now belongs to the Brooklyn Museum? I could not find it on their website.

Karin Wester

Karin

I am 100% positive it at the Brooklyn Museum....I am looking at it right now....

~Paul

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