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Epstein Art Deco furniture
The quality of the furniture produced by the Epstein brothers of London’s East End is recognised as among the finest in the British Art Deco style – both in terms of design and production.
Their style reflected the avant-garde influences of the Paris 1925 ‘Art Deco’ exhibition, seen in their use of curvilinear forms and rich veneers. These traits blended, almost unconsciously, with a certain grandeur and scale that derived from their family’s Russian background, and found expression in designs that were also in tune with the Modernist ethos emanating from continental Europe. The styling of the iconic ‘Cloud’ dining, lounge and salon suites, for instance, conveyed that sense of sunshine, fresh air and exercise that was promoted as the key to a healthy mind and body, and as an antidote to any lingering shadows of the horrors of the First World War.
Furniture in this ‘Art Deco’ style was produced from the 1930s until at least the 1950s, alongside the Georgian and other reproduction pieces that Morris Epstein had excelled in as a cabinet maker. Finished to high standards, many pieces were custom-made in veneers of burr maple, sycamore or walnut. After World War II, several of the Epstein brothers, including Harry & Lou, David and Michael, and Sidney had showrooms in London, Manchester, Glasgow and Dublin. A singularly British, Art Deco style became the Epstein trademark.
Art Deco pieces from before World War II were not signed. From the 1950s, a small number of Epstein pieces in the Art Deco/Modern style were labelled ‘H. & L. Epstein Ltd’, by a company owned by Harry and Louis; others were marked ‘Epstein & Goldman’, a firm of which Sidney Epstein was a partner. Nonetheless, over the last decade a scholarly and painstaking approach to a range of documentary and other sources has enabled a good number of Epstein designs to be identified with confidence.