Eileen Gray – Dragons Chair (1917-1919)

 The “Dragons” armchair is a piece of furniture designed by the Irish architect and designer Eileen Gray between 1917 and 1919. For years, the unique piece was part of fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent’s living room.

The chair is a wooden, upholstered armchair featuring two stylized lacquered dragons. The dragon imagery and clouds depicted on the chair have been likened to those found in the iconography of traditional Chinese art. Gray worked on the chair lacquering the piece by hand and letting the lacquer set in her humid bathroom before spending days polishing the piece.

The chair’s first owner was Gray’s patron, Suzanne Talbot, the chair then had several owners before it was acquired in 1971 by the Parisian art dealer Cheska Vallois, who in 1973 sold the Dragon Chair to Yves Saint Laurent. After his death, the chair was put up for sale as part of the Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Bergé collection in February 2009 at Christie’s auction house in Paris. It was sold for 21,905,000, establishing a new record for a piece of 220th-century decorative art, the buyer of the chair was once again Cheska Vallois who later said that the cost of acquiring it was “the price of desire“.

 Author: Anna Marie Fisker

Photo: Ivan Terestchenko