PLEYEL HARPSICHORD

Piece of furniture by Sue & Mare. - Decoration by Bernard Naudin. - Exhibited at the 1925 Salon des Arts Decoratifs.

Serial n° 54F969 – 184344.
According to the Pleyel archives, this is a harpsichord Model Grand, veneered pearwood. The construction started December 4th 1915. The instrument left the Pleyel factory on February 3rd 1928 and sold the next day to Mr. Mc Cormick in Paris.

Planed since 1912, the Exposition des Arts Décoratifs de Paris would be opened in 1915, but was delayed because of the First World War.
The body of the harpsichord, unfinished, was stored at the Pleyel workshop until the new project of the 1925 Art Déco Exhibition.

The design of the new instrument is put into the hands of the architect-decorators Louis Süe (1875-1968) and André Mare (1885-1932) while the painting is the work of Bernard Naudin (1876-1946).

The Pleyel journal, in the n°18 issue of 1925, presents the items exhibited at the Salon des Arts-Déco and concludes:" In conclusion, here is the harpsichord designed by Bernard Naudin with the collaboration of Süe and Mare, a very important item, the delightful archaism of which reveals that the modern taste sometimes knows how to match the grace and spirit with the most exquisite works of the past." G. Rémon.

However the pianos, being more modern, are chosen to be exhibited in the big hall, that causes a stir. The magazine l'Art Vivant, in the n°2 issue from January 1925, four months before the opening of the Salon, publishes a virulent editorial against this decision.
In fact this harpsichord will be exhibited "on the Alexandre Bridge, in one of the showrooms built according to the draft of Sauvage and decorated by Réné- Herbst, one of the most audacious and unerring decorator of his time", Pleyel journal. "Pleyel exhibit series of impressive models, a boldly significant ensemble and of a large diversity, which shows us in what frame of mind these innovations were made, both faithful to the tradition and consistent with the most delicate requirements of the fashion of the present... and the future".

The name of all the specialists who participated in the elaboration of this harpsichord are written on the name board. After the Salon, it is exhibited at the Salle Pleyel and sold on February 4th to the American industrialist Harold Mc Cormick (1872-1941) $ 6000.00 (152 700 FF) (in comparison a classical model sold for 30 000 FF. / $ 1200.00)

Mr. Mc Cormick bought the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, under the direction of his wife Ganna Walska and the director Walther Straram. This theatre became one of the main place of the conyemporary music of the thirties...
The harpsichord is once more fashionable. After Manuel de Falla and his concerto for harpsichord and five instruments, Francis Poulenc composed his "Concert Champêtre", as a compliment to Wanda Landowska.

This is the only harpsichord designed by leaders of the Art-Déco period, and furthermore the only one exhibited at the inaugural Salon of 1925...