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Foldable Diabolo Wall Lamp

Materials: Brass parts. Black painted articulating brass rods. Yellow/maize painted aluminium diabolo lampshades, white painted inside. The lampshades are perforated with pentagonal stars. Rectangular black painted iron wall mount. Brass sockets.

Big Lampshade: ∅ 34 cm / 13.38”

Small Lampshade: ∅ 13 cm / 5.11”

Total Width Lampshades: 25 cm / 9.84”

Wall Mount: 13 x 5 cm / 5.11 x 1.96”

Total length: 100 cm / 39.37”

Arm: 80 cm / 31.49”

Electricity: 2 bulbs B22, 2 x 60 watt maximum, 110/220 volt.
Any type of light bulb can be used, not a specific one preferred. 

Period: 1950s – Mid-Century Modern.

Designer: Robert Mathieu (1921-2002) – attributed.

Manufacturer: R. Mathieu Luminaires Rationnels, Paris, France – attributed.

These wall lamps are always presented as lamps designed by René Mathieu and produced by Lunel. It is possible that there was a René Mathieu who designed lamps, but no information to be found. The only well known René Mathieu in France was a special agent for The Special Operations Executive (SOE), a British World War II organisation. He was born in 1921 in Metz, France and died at the end of the war.

The company of Robert Mathieu was named R. Mathieu. Maybe in time some people thought that the R should be René and this wall lamp started a new life as a René Mathieu lamp.

It is possible that this wall lamp is produced by Lunel and made after a design by R. Mathieu, but no proof is found. Lunel produced several lamps in this style.

Robert Mathieu

Robert Mathieu is one of the most talented French luminaries creators of the 1950s. He attended the Boulle school, L’ecole Boulle in the Rue Pierre Bourdan in Paris, before embarking on a career as a watchmaker in 1938.

In 1949 he began his creation of lighting at 98 Boulevard Charonne in Paris which will remain its flagship store.

His first period of production in the early 1950s reveals a real finesse of execution. The brass stems and the double shade diabolo system are recognizable elements of this period. Beginning in 1953, Robert Mathieu created wall lamps and ceiling lamps with acrylic or lacquered aluminum reflectors. The end of the 1950s was marked by the use of counterweights.

R. Mathieu Luminaires Rationnels (rational lighting) published luminaries of great designers including Michel Buffet. the company ended business in 1978. 

Maison Lunel

Ets R. Lunel, later in time it changed into Maison Lunel. Maison Lunel no longer exists, the store of the company was located at 18, Rue Godot de Mauroy in Paris. Today there is a bike shop. In the 1950s there were 6 Lunel stores in France.


Diabolo is the name given to the shape of the lampshade. The diabolo lampshades were very popular in the 1950s. You can find several examples on Vintageinfo.

The diabolo, some yo-yo, has its origin in China. It’s a double-coned bobbin that can be twirled, tossed, and caught on a string secured by two sticks, one held in each hand. The first diabolo’s were made of bamboo and they made some whistling sound.

In the eighteenth century, the diabolo became known in England and France. The term “diabolo” was made up by French engineer Gustave Phillippart, who developed the modern diabolo in the early twentieth century and he was re-released. Since then, he has been widespread.

R. Mathieu Publicity 1954

Diabolo Foldable Wall Lamp - R. Mathieu, Luminaires rationnels, publicity 1954