Design & Decoration S01 ep9: Jean Lupu, French Period Antiques, [Paris]
Interview with Jean Lupu
Everything that concerns art, you have to be sensitive but not sensible. What is striking with art is that you are working with inanimate, dead materials and with these materials you almost create life.
KM: What is Jean Lupu?
Jean Lupu is passionate for art in general and more specifically, art of 18th
KM: Why antiques?
First of all my parents were already dealing with art and at 20 I had no real
idea about my future. There was just one thing I was sure of, and that was that
I wanted to be a journalist - I wanted to write. Unfortunately I couldn't afford to
study this at the time.
KM: What was monsieur’s first memories?
One of my first memories of this business was when I owned a boutique at the
flea market of St Germain in Paris and bought a commode without really
knowing what it was and an American dealer passed by and bought it. This
dealer wanted me to find several other commodes of a similar kind. So for
several years, I found for this dealer, lots of objects and commodes. Even
during these early times, I always wanted to buy things that were exceptional.
You should be aware of people who say that they know a lot of things about
art. I prefer the philosophy of Socrates " You really don't know anything". In
antiques, you really need a lot of experience in the field where you learn little
KM: At 20 how did he find his antiques?
I found objects at auctions all around France. In my youth, I found exceptional
objects but at that time I did not realise how exceptional these pieces were.
The people who bought them from me on the other hand, knew that the pieces
were outstanding, but I did not know at the time.
You can still find exceptional pieces even today, and for instance this year I
discovered some really outstanding objects. I found a pair of chairs and also
an exceptional commode. The chairs - a pair of Berghere which were made by
Carpontier. It is very rare that you can find chairs made by this Menusie.
Obviously these chairs were from royal origin or from the aristocracy.
KM: How did he find these?
These chairs were part of a bigger lot of chairs at an auction and the expert of
the auction house had not noticed that these two chairs had been made by
Carpontier, a truly exceptional menusie.
Today, just as in the past you need a lot of intuition to find something really
rare and interesting, but it is possible. There are just a few art dealers in Paris
who can really feel if something is outstanding.
KM: How does he work?
We spend a lot of money in taking photography of pieces, as all our clients that
visit usually want a photo of the objects that they are interested in. This might
as well be a way of buying an object without spending any money.
KM: How do they know the provenance in reality of the piece?
I have a reputation of selling objects that are "genuine". Clients never ask
about the authenticity because they know that it is authentic, but if anything
has been altered or there has been a restoration, this information is always
passed on to the client. And of course, I inform them that under French law,
everything that I sell, I am responsible for its authenticity for at least 30 years.
KM: Does monsieur haves sons to carry on the guarantee?
I have a son who has been working in the business and in decoration for the
last four years and now he is back here but you cannot say if your son is going
to...carry on the family tradition.
KM: What is the meaning of the word art?
You cannot really explain what is art, there is no definition but you can say that
you cannot live without art. I personally cannot live without art. When I am in a
place where I cannot look at beautiful things, read or read poetry, I cannot live.
KM: What stops people today from making exactly this piece?
You cannot make such a piece today, you can try to copy of it, but it won't be
really the same. Each generation has a special way of working and you cannot
It is so easy to say at what period a piece was created, because when you
create an object, you are conveying everything you have learnt, everything that
has influenced you - all the culture and influence of the period. And this is seen
in the object.
I remember that when I was young and had a shop in the 16th Arrondisemont
in Paris, I exhibited a commode in the display window for almost 7 or 8 months
and finally sold it to an antique dealer who lived in Bordeaux.
A week later, a truck stopped in front of my shop and two men started
unloading the commode that I had sold to the dealer from Bordeaux. So I open
the door for them to come in, thinking that probably there was something
wrong with the commode and then these two men just passed by my shop and
took the commode to the first floor. I then realised that the art dealer from
Bordeaux had sold the commode to my neighbours.
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: Jean Lupu, French Period Antiques, Paris