De Bilt, 1935
White stained solid pine with dovetail joints and brass bolts.
38.5 x 41.5 x74, 5 cm.
The Dutch/Hungarian modernist photographer Eva Besnyö photographed the interior of an important mansion in The Hague, designed by Gerrit Rietveld in commission of the Hillebrand family in 1935.
Photo: Eva Besnyö 1935, Rietveld Schröder archive, Centraal Museum Utrecht.
On a photo showing the living room we see a stage on wich chamber-concerts could be conducted. Especially for the musicians, performing on this stage, the family asked Rietveld to make them a few Zig-Zag chairs. At the special request of Ms. Hillebrand, the chairs were executed in monochrome white.
Two of these chairs were preserved in the family; one chair is given to the Centraal Museum in Utrecht in 2001, we were able to purchase the other one for our sales collection.
While many of his fellow architects, who can be regarded as modernists, received commissions for (small) urban building-development projects, Rietveld’s architectural works before World War II mainly consisted of private commissions for building (country) houses. An important assignment was the building of two detached villas in The Hague located close to each other for the Mees and Hillebrand families.
The Interior design and furnishing of these two mansions were an important part of the total assignment. The Hillebrand family made special, unusual requirements for the interior of their new home: the possibility of organizing chamber-concerts in their living room. That wish became a determining factor for the interior. Rietveld divided the living room into two parts, a higher part on which the grand piano was placed which could function as a stage for the chamber-concerts and a lower part were the guests could sit down and listen. In the important publication Küper and van Zijl, ‘Gerrit Th. Rietveld, The Complete Works’ the interior is discussed separately under its own inventory number 225.
The ZigZag chair here on offer, was especially made to be used on stage by the musicians while the concerts were conducted. It all comes together at the Photograph Eva Besnyö made with the white ZigZag standing on stage. It seems as if the white ZigZag chair has been set up there behind a music stand to illustrate this underlying story and the special function of the living room.
One of the earliest examples:
The ‘Hillebrand’ ZigZag chair is one of the earliest examples of solid wooden zigzag chairs that were made by Gerard van de Groenekan under the supervision of Rietveld himself for use in interiors and houses that Rietveld was commissioned on by the families; Mees, Hillebrand, Birza, Harrenstein and Wilma between 1934 and 1936.
The chair passed on directly from the family to our collection.
At the request of Rietveld specialist and art historian Rob Driessen, Hans Hillebrand, son of the first owners, has written down the special history of the white ZigZag chairs from the Hillebrand mansion. This information passed down in the family is entirely consistent with the historiography in literature such as ‘The Complete Works’ and the preserved photos from the ‘Rietveld-Schröder Archive’.
Marijke Küper, Ida van Zijl, ‘Gerrit Th. Rietveld, The Complete Works’, Centraal Museum Utrecht 1992, p. 161, cat.no. 224 and 225.; Frits Bless, ‘Rietveld’, Bert Bakker/Erven Thomas Rap, 1982 p. 79-147, cat.no.132-134