Jean Lurçat, brother of the architect André Lurçat, began his artistic career as a painter. An interest in mural painting led him to turn his attention to tapestry. From 1923 onward, he designed rugs and carpets, notably for his friend Pierre Chareau. Two rooms designed by Chareau for the “French Embassy” pavilion of the Société des Artistes Décorateurs at the 1925 Exhibition contained rugs by Lurçat: the Mermaid rug in the center of the study-library, and another rug in the break room. Lurçat continued his partnership with Chareau by designing rugs, a screen and tapestry seat covers for the Maison de Verre on Rue Saint Guillaume. Jean Lurçat moved to Aubusson in 1940; after the war, he set up his own tapestry workshops in Saint-Céré.
The Mermaid, Jean Lurçat’s most famous rug, is very appealing for its theme, colors and Cubist style. It featured in the decor designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens for Marcel L’Herbier’s film Le Vertige (1926). The gouache presented here belongs to the archives of the Atelier Coupé held by the Musée de la Tapisserie in Aubusson.