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Arts of Europe

The MFAH collections of art created on the European continent encompass artistic styles across the time line of history, from the ancient world to the Middle Ages, and the Early Modern era to the 21st century.

Designed by LUDWIG MIES van der ROHE
German, 1886 - 1969
Made by Berliner Metallgewerbe Josef Müller
"Barcelona," Model MR 90 Chair
Chromed steel and leather

28 3/4 x 29 1/8 x 29 15/16 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Gift of J. Brian and Varina Eby, by exchange

Arts of Europe

Ludwig Mies van der Rohe designed the German pavilion and its interior furnishings for the Barcelona World Exposition of 1929. For the inaugural ceremony, Mies designed two x-frame chairs, for use by the king and queen of Spain, based on ancient Egyptian and Greek folding chairs—a design recognized as a symbol of power in those two cultures.

Of his design, Mies stated: "It had to be an "important chair, a very elegant chair . . . The government was to receive a king. . . . The chair had to be . . . monumental. In those circumstances, you just couldn't use a kitchen chair."

Although only two chairs were made for the Barcelona, the design was considered so successful that the chair was immediately put into production. This rare example, from the first year of manufacture, was assembled with hand-secured screws and expensive lap joints. The leather cushions were hand-tufted and stuffed with horsehair. In later production, the individual elements were welded together and the leather cushions had a much thinner profile. Except for a 16-year break, the Barcelona chair has been in continuous production since its original design.