Visiteur wood slats armchair, 1941
The new chaise longue refined by Jean Boutemain in 1941 for the Solvay Hospital in Dombasle,1 already had most of the characteristics of the Visiteur armchair that appeared shortly afterwards: bent tubing base on which the armrests were set, solid wood sides and armrests, plywood seat and back, and cushions. A few of these chaises longues were made, as well as variants with a seat of mortised wood slats, reclining back, casters on the front legs and a detachable footrest. Production, doubtless subcontracted to Vauconsant, was small and designed to meet the handful of orders—for example for the office of Monsieur Labourier, for the Berger-Levrault firm’s staff center in Nancy—that kept the Ateliers Jean Prouvé going during the War. Modifications aimed at increasing the model’s attractiveness and comfort followed: more rounded lines, a softer profile for the sides, an improved seating position, curved slats for more comfortable padding, and feet fitted with metal disks. As an economy measure, the backrest became fixed.2 First marketed in 1945 as part of the Ateliers Jean Prouvé’ “emergency furniture” advertised in the magazines of the time, this model is termed FV 11 in a document dating from 1947. In that year 41 items were in stock, which already suggests the production of a series.
1. The architects Jacques and Michel André introduced Jean Prouvé to the solders Solvay, who had their headquarters in Dombasle-sur-Meurthe, near Nancy, and who, in 1941, embark on extensive furnishing projects for the industrial as well as social sectors (domestic, family centers, employee housing units, hospitals). This company became one of the most loyal clients of the Ateliers Jean Prouvé during the War, and several furniture models—Visiteur armchair, tapered table and desk legs—were created in the context of this collaboration.
2. On some models the backrest has been lengthened by several centimeters.