EUGÈNE PRINTZ (1889-1948)
Eugène Printz, who was born in Paris in 1889, didn’t receive a specialized training. He learnt all his job’s secrets as a cabinetmaker by making copies of old furniture in his father’s workshop, in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, which he would soon became the head of at his father’s death. From 1920, he began research in modern furniture. At the Exposition international des Arts Décoratifs industriels et modernes, in 1925, he exhibited his first personal and autonomous works, along with Pierre Chareau. From 1926, he regularly showed pieces at the Salon des Artistes décorateurs, at the Salon d’automne and the Salon des Tuileries. In 1931, he exhibited the Maréchal Lyautey’s desk, and at the Exposition universelle of 1937, he participated to the Pavillon des Artistes décorateurs and organized the lighting of the Pavillon de la Lumière. The same year, he received the Légion d’Honneur.
Printz received numerous commissions from the Mobilier National and the City of Paris ; the Museum of Modern Art of Paris and the musée des Arts Décoratifs keep several of his pieces of furniture. He also realized important sets in USA, Mexico, UK and Belgium. He designed and decorated Princesse de La Tour d’Auvergne’s private chambers at the château de Gros-Bois and Jeanne Lanvin’s private offices in Paris. Passionate about light and lighting – lusters, torches, indirect lighting… – he worked for and with the painters Albert Marquet and Jean-Louis Boussingault. Finally, outside of his designer and decorator activity, he also conceived stage sets for Louis Jouvet, in particular for Domino and Jean de la Lune.
Eugène Printz was not only a perfect technician of cabinetmaking, he also worshiped the domain in which he was a master. In his youth, he soon became familiar with the historical side of his milieu ; he constantly visited museums and admired old masterpieces that not only confirmed but reinforced his vocation.
For him, pieces of furniture were a luxury object worthy of the best and finest materials ; in parallel, he wanted to be tuned in the users and clients, and was pleased to invent all sorts of ingenious, unattended and practical combinations for his creations. He often used the rarest exotic woods and the palm tree wood, enhanced by gilt bronze, or covered the insides with sycamore wood, smooth and bright like satin. Printz also made great pieces of furniture inlaid with precious enamels of Jean Serrière, or large and delicate silver or copper panels and lacquers by Jean Dunand, whose son, Pierre Dunand, would continue this collaboration typical of the tradition of superior-quality cabinetmaking.
While furniture and decorative objects were made by specialized craftsmen in his workshop, Printz never ceased to design and create himself the first full-scale model. Passionate about his job, about his very personal and singular art, Eugène Printz always planed on the slightest details of his sets, organized with a rather sumptuous imagination.