Architectural Element from the Oviatt Building, Downtown Los Angeles

May 10, 2010

Historian Marc Chevalier, who researched, wrote and produced a feature-length documentary on the history of the Oviatt Building (and is writing a biography of James Oviatt), gave us some great insights on the glass panel LAMA is offering from the downtown Los Angeles Oviatt Building.

This sand-etched glass panel coming up for auction in the May 23, 2010 Modern Art & Design auction is by Gaetan Jeannin, a French glass designer and maker from the early 1920s to the mid ‘30s.  Chevalier states that in 1927, Jeannin –a pioneer in sand-etching– was commissioned to design and fabricate thousands of panels for the Parisian Galeries-Lafayette department store’s new illuminated glass awning.

Later that year, downtown Los Angeles haberdasher James Oviatt, on a buying trip to Paris, hired Gaetan Jeannin to make hundreds of glass panels for a very similar awning and outdoor lobby ceiling to grace the entrance to his new store building.   When the “Oviatt’s” haberdashery closed in 1967, nearly all of the entrance’s ceiling (but not the awning) was dismantled and its glass panels were sold off.   Today, only a few original glass panels remain in place in the building’s entrance columns: two of those panels have Gaetan Jeannin’s maker mark.

In addition to Jeannin, Rene Lalique created some major glass pieces for the Oviatt Building: specifically, its front doors and elevator door panels.  However, contrary to popular myth, Lalique had no hand in the design or manufacture of the awning’s and ceiling’s glass panels.

Oviatt Building Architectural Element, designed by Gaetan Jeannin, 1928

Lot information:

Lot 384

Gaetan Jeannin

Architectural Element

Custom, designed 1928

Each panel marked

Designed for the Oviatt Building, Los Angeles

17.75”h x 13.5”l x 4.5”d

Estimate $1,800 – 2,500

Leave a Reply


I really like this architectural glass.