Born on the twentieth of May in 1877, in Lancy, Switzerland, as John-Jules Dunand-Gotcho, he later adopted the Frenchified first name of Jean (he is naturalized French in 1922). At the age of fourteen, he began studying sculpture at the Geneva School of Industrial Arts, where he won several prizes. After five years study, he was awarded his diploma. In 1897, he moved to Paris to continue his studies at the National School of Decorative Arts. 1905, was elected to the Société Nationale des Beaux Arts after completing an interior for the Comtess de Bearn. Dunand along with Angst, Fraysee and Collet worked under the direction of Jean Dampt. Few years later, he began working with Seizo Sugawara, a Japanese laquerist who had recently emigrated to France, to learn the seemingly lost technique of lacquer.
The decorations, of infinite variety, are sometimes geometric, cubist, but full of originality and invention, sometimes naturalists. He himself drew in large numbers. Other supplied to him by friends painters such as Jean Lambert-Rucki and Gustave Miklos.
Wood with red on black lacquer
Both stamped JEAN DUNAND LAQUEUR
In 1912, Dunand learned the ancient and traditional art of Oriental lacquerwork from the Japanese master lacquer artist Seizo Sugawara whom Eileen Gray had studied under. Sugawara, in turn, was taught Dunand’s metalwork techniques. After World War I, Dunand developed a process of lacquerwork as superlative as that of his Asian predecessors. A pioneer in the modern art of lacquering, he combined traditional Asian methods with boldly geometric design and color. Dunand’s most comprehensive commissions done in lacquer were the monumental murals for the ocean liners Île de France, L’Atlantique and Normandie.
Felix Marcilhac, Jean Dunand: His Life and Works, Harry N. Abrams, New York, 1991, p. 251,
cat. no. 467