Press release -
Finn Juhl's Dining Room Set Sold for Over a Million Danish Kroner
Thursday marked the end of the year’s first Live Auction at Bruun Rasmussen. The day focused on design classics, and especially Finn Juhl’s furniture had buyers from all over the world bidding. A dining room set with his "Egyptian Chairs" and a "Judas Table" delivered the biggest surprise with a hammer price of DKK 770,000 (€ 134,000 including buyer’s premium) and DKK 250,000 (€ 44,000 including buyer’s premium) respectively.
The highest prices at Thursday’s design auction were achieved by a number of Finn Juhl’s most famous classics. Leading the group was a dining room set with 12 ”Egyptian Chairs” in Brazilian rosewood and a "Judas Table". Both were designed in the late 1940s and manufactured by Juhl's collaborator, the cabinetmaker Niels Vodder. The chairs and table complement each other so well that many perceive them as a set, and the two lots have been in the ownership of the same family since 1969.
"A hammer price of more than one million kroner for a dining room set has to be considered a good investment – at least for the family who consigned Finn Juhl's twelve "Egyptian Chairs" and "The Judas Table" for auction. In 1969, they bought the furniture for DKK 12,500, so I think it is a safe bet to say that the family were very pleased about the result,” says an enthusiastic Peter Kjelgaard, Head of Bruun Rasmussen's Design Department.
What Does a Pharaoh’s Tomb Have to do with Danish Design?
In 1923, the enigmatic Pharaoh Tutankhamun’s chamber tomb was opened in Egypt. His final resting place was enormous and contained furniture and precious art treasures from around 1300 BC. The discovery not only became the largest archaeological find up to that point – it also became a source of inspiration for a wealth of artists and furniture designers around the world. This was also the case in Denmark, where the architects of Modernism interpreted ancient Egyptian furniture. Juhl's rare "Egyptian Chair” is such a historical reinterpretation: "To be honest, I have stolen the structure (...). I also have to admit that I have been and am becoming more enchanted by the simplest and most elegant furniture from Egypt than by other furniture pieces of the past”.
Juhl's large dining table, known as the "Judas table", is also an expression of a classical reference – this time to the Bible and the story of Judas, who received 30 silver coins for betraying Jesus. Spread out over the table top, 30 coin-like silver inlays are inserted in a geometric pattern that serves as a guide on how to set the table depending on the number of guests. An anecdote says that in the 1950s it was a costly affair to buy silver for the tables, and therefore Niels Vodder used ordinary Swedish coins instead, which at the time were still made of silver.
About Finn Juhl
The architect Finn Juhl (1912-1989) is a quintessential part of Danish design history. He stood out among other furniture designers with his artistic ambition and expressed opposition to a narrow understanding of the period’s ideas about functionality: ”Functionalism is an idiotic word, which merely alludes to certain geometrical relationships of surfaces and lines. It does not cover the ambition of Modernity in achieving the right form.” For Juhl, functionality could not stand on its own, and the excellent craftsmanship and sculptural forms became the guiding principle of his work. He displayed a great degree of open-mindedness in his designs and turned his attention towards modern art, but also to historic places such as ancient Egypt and to biblical stories – as was evident at Thursday's auction.
Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers is one of Scandinavia’s leading international auction houses, and one of Denmark’s oldest. It all started on 6 October 1948, when Arne Bruun Rasmussen conducted the first traditional auction in the saleroom at Bredgade 33 in Copenhagen. Today, Jesper Bruun Rasmussen stands at the helm of the family-run business together with the third generation of the family, his son Frederik and daughter Alexa, and the company’s CEO Jakob Dupont.
In 2004, the first online auction was launched, and today the auction house has expanded to include departments in Copenhagen and Aarhus and representations in Sweden, Germany, England, France, Belgium, Luxemburg, Spain, Italy, Thailand and the US. About 100,000 lots are put up for auction each year at the traditional auctions and daily online auctions. Here you can bid on everything from art, antiques, modern design and jewellery to books, coins, stamps, wine and weaponry.