He is one of the most original representatives of Art Deco. He differentiated himself via two essential points: his devotion to antiquity and the predominant use of bronze. In this respect, his work resembles no other. The antiquity that inspired him veers toward Pompeii and the Museum of Naples which he visited in 1914, but his very personal interpretations are far-removed from the original subjects. He creates his bronzes with an antique patina of many tones, chiseled ornamentations stylized in relief (butterflies, flowers, rosettes, gadroons, but always many birds).
Rateau stood out among artist groups and associations; He didn’t exhibit in the salons, but was very active in servicing a private, rich clientele. His furniture was sometimes produced in twos or threes, rarely more, which rendered them that much more precious in the eyes of actual collectors. Three wealthy clients, among many others, contributed to Rateau’s renown and found themselves at the beginning/origin of his astonishing production, of his sumptuous decors and of his most exceptional furnishings. They were the great American collectors George and Florence Blumenthal, the Duchess of Albe and especially the celebrated fashion designer Jeanne Lanvin.
Cf. P. KJELLBERG, Art Déco, Les maîtres du mobilier, Le décor des paquebots, Ed. de l’Amateur, Paris, 2000, p. 195 à 198.