French Art Deco piano by Gaveau in the manner of Dominique circa 1933
Item #1883 SOLD
Graceful two toned mahogany and maple cabinet raised on streamline supports in the most sophisticated 30′s French high style. Also accented by an unusual wood and brass lyre. Gaveau pianos made some of the finest art deco art-case pianos known. This exceptional example is in extremely fine original condition, having never been rebuilt or refinished, and appears nearly new in many respects. The original strings are in excellent condition as is the action with all original components. The original soundboard is flawless with no cracks, and the piano plays beautifully with a very responsive action and a typical French tone which is delicate yet powerful, belying the piano’s compact size. The cabinet with its exotic woods still presents its original 1938 finish which has just been professionally French polished and has a beauty and depth not seen in refinished examples.
The piano’s ownership history is equally remarkable. It was purchased new in Paris in 1938 by the Litton family and moved to their apartment on rue Cognacq-Jay near the pont de l’Alma, where it joined a large collection of the most fashionable Art Deco furniture. The Littons left France for New York in 1939 and settled in a large apartment on the Upper West Side bringing the furniture and piano along. The Littons were part of a circle of European artists and intellectuals and hosted parties where the elegant Gaveau was played by the likes of Nadia Reisenberg and Arthur Rubenstein. Their son George Litton remembers these parties fondly. After his father’s passing in the 1950s his mother moved to a smaller apartment and sold most of the Art Deco pieces but loved the piano and kept it with her.
The next fascinating chapter of the piano’s story began when George started his family and the piano was played by his son Andrew, a very promising young musician in the mid 1960s. Andrew’s hard work at the piano paid good rewards as he is today one of the most celebrated conductors and pianists of his generation, currently holding the positions of Music Director of Norway’s Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra, Artistic Director of the Minnesota Orchestra’s Sommerfest, Conductor Laureate of Britain’s Bournemouth Symphony, and Music Director of the Colorado Symphony. He guest conducts the world’s leading orchestras and opera companies and has a discography of over 120 recordings with awards including America’s Grammy, France’s Diapason d’Or, and many British and other honors.
You can see a similar design of this piano pictured in photos from the French luxury liner Normandie. It is documented that Dominique was a major design source for the Le Normandie, designing one of only four private luxury suites. These suites were all fashioned with highest level of current French taste, design and materials. They were occupied by some of the most famous and talented stars of the day, including Marlene Dietrich, Fred Astaire, Johnny Weissmuller, Cary Grant, James Stewart, Thomas Mann, Salvidor Dali and Joseph Kennedy to name a few.
A remarkable instrument of extreme beauty and historical significance.
4′ 6″ length