A French Art Nouveau carved walnut upholstered armchair, "Aux Pins," by Louis Majorelle. The chair has carved wooden sections depicting pine cones, a recurring motif in Majorelle''s naturalist vocabulary. A similar chair appears in "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue), as Cabinet de Travail "Les Pins", and in "The Paris Salons, 1895-1910, Volume III: Furniture," by Alastair Duncan, Antique Collectors'' Club, Publishers, page 407.
A French Art Nouveau "Grenouilles" beechwood cabinet by Emile Gallé. This carved cabinet features dragonfly, mushroom, and landscape marquetry decoration, as well as carved frog-leg feet and a pierced dragonfly design in the top gallery. The panel for the key escutcheon is cast in bronze with the complementary pattern (left and right) in carved wood. Similar cabinet pictured in: "Art Nouveau Furniture," by Alastair Duncan, p. 74, no. 62. As well as in Emile Gallé, by Philippe Garner, p. 84
A French Art Nouveau French walnut server by Louis Majorelle in the "Cephataria" motif. The server has two drawers with gilt-bronze handles in a leaf motif, double door storage below and is elaborately carved throughout in a floral motif. Similar pieces are pictured in the 1906 Majorelle catalogue (see Salle à Manger "Céphataria").
A French Art Nouveau marquetry commode by Émile Gallé. With original key. The syncretic influence of Japanese art is keenly felt in Gallé''s commode. The beginning of Galle''s fascination with Japanese art can be traced back to his friendship with Hokkai Takashima (1850-1931), a fellow botanist and member of the École de Nancy. Their botanical dialogue was facilitated by the Shokobutsu mei-i, a book of Japanese names for botanical species. It is from Hokkai that Gallé gained a spiritual and symbolic understanding of nature. Along with other École de Nancy artists, Hokkai and Gallé exhibited together in the display window of René Wiener''s papeterie. The store served as the office of Wiener''s arts journal, the Nancy artiste, which regularly featured on its covers contemporary examples of Gansai (Japanese watercolor), Byobu (folding screens) from the Rinpa school, Sumi-e (ink painting), and Ukiyo-e (woodblock prints). As a show of gratitude, Hokkai bequeathed a vast art book collection to Wiener. It is from this record that we know with certainty of which Japanese artists Gallé had knowledge. One of the books in Hokkai''s collection was Hokusai''s Les cent paysages du Fuji (Fugaku hyakkei.) This 1835 expansion of Hokusai''s 36 views of Mount Fuji contained more elaborate iterations of his original compositions. The commode features two drawers and four cabriole legs.
The front of the drawers features a marquetry panel with mountains, unkai (sea of clouds) and usugumo (wisps of clouds) motifs. It is likely from works like Hokusai''s Yama mata yama (Mountains Upon Mountains) that Gallé assimilated the unkai (??) motif. The Yama mata yama is the album''s only zenithal view, allowing this phenomenon which is normally only visible from high elevations. On the top of the commode, a sunset mirage overlooks the entire scene. Meanwhile in the foreground, Gallé has included a usugumo motif rendered in warm brown wood. The wisps of cloud motif originates in a stanza in the Tale of Genji in his mourning for Fujitsubo. Those thin wisps of cloud trailing there over Mountains caught in sunset light Seem to wish to match their hue To the sleeves of the bereaved. There is a distinct temporal quality in the commode''s composition. The left side panel depicts a diurne while the right side panel depicts a nocturne. The juxtaposition of day and night in Japanese ukiyo-e was a subject much beloved by Hokusai and Hiroshige and was termed chuya (chu meaning day and ya meaning night). The Japanese nocturne was clearly a subject of great fascination to Gallé as well as evidenced by his "Nuit Japonais" vase. A similar commode is pictured in: "Gallé Furniture", by Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 2012, p. 329, plate 15.
A French Art Nouveau "le cerisier" (cherry tree) vitrine by Emile Gallé featuring marquetry and carving throughout with original stylized fleur-de-lys brass shelf rests. The interior back of the vitrine is highly decorated with beautiful floral marquetry. This unusual piece was originally electrified when manufactured. Circa 1915. This unusual piece was originally electrified when manufactured.The beginning of Gallé''s fascination with Japanese art can be traced back to his friendship with Hokkai Takashima (1850-1931), a Japanese nobleman, fellow botanist and member of the École de Nancy. Takashima introduced Gallé to a mesmerizing world of Japanese woodblock prints and textile designs, which he frequently incorporated into his work. Gallé''s early success at the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle was with his "Japonisante" vitrine, a piece that featured "cherry blossom" openwork. In Gallé''s personal life, the cherry blossom held sentimental value, reminding him of his trips to Saillon, Switzerland. In his journal, Gallé mused "the cherries ripen in the snow falling from the dandelions." The gentle dark wood ripples in the marquetry evoke alpine mist and clouds taking the viewer to this enchanting scene. A similar vitrine is pictured in: "Gallé Furniture," by Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 2012, p. 295, plate 17.
A French Art Nouveau walnut vitrine in ash and rosewood, featuring clemantis depicted in marquetry and deep carving. The vitrine has two lockable storage areas, each with a shelf, and two drawers that swing out from the body. There is also a shelf in the glass-fronted area near the top of the piece. The vitrine''s three legs are decorated with carved roots.
Table Aux Nénuphars – A French Art Nouveau two-tier mahogany, tamarind wood and gilt bronze table by Louis Majorelle in the "water lily" motif, featuring applied bronze lily pad and vine decoration. The organic shape and rounded dip in each of the table''s two tiered planes mimics the appearance of a water lily suspended in water, creating a beautiful cohesion in the design. Known as the master furniture maker of the Art Nouveau style, Louis Majorelle was the recipient of the Grand Prize at the St. Louis World''s Fair, and international acclaim at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900. He remains among the most sought after designers of the early 20th century, and the most celebrated of the Nancy Art Nouveau artists. Those works by Majorelle that feature gilt bronze accents, produced by his team of highly skilled craftsman with the utmost attention to detail, are considered the most exceptional of the artist''s oeuvre, and are among the most collectible. A similar table is pictured in: "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. III: Furniture", by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1996, p. 382, and in: "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue) -- see Cabinet de Travail "Nénuphars".
A French carved and fruitwood marquetry inlaid Ombelliféres vitrine by Emile Gallé. The vitrine has marquetry ombelle flowers in its interior and on the panel below the bottom shelf. The interior has two small carved half shelves. The top and bottom have elaborately carved ombelle decorations. It sits on four sinuously carved feet. The vitrine''s front marquetry panel features three Berce des prés composed in a similar manner to Kitao Shigemasa''s Tree peony and Finch. Through Takashima Hokkai, Gallé was able to borrow a copy of Fleurs, oiseaux par Shigemasa (Kachoe shashin zue). Like Shigemasa, Gallé worked in the aesthetic of kacho-e (birds and flower painting) with a thorough understanding of the grammar of ikebana (flower arrangement). Gallé''s expertise was so great that he was entrusted with organizing an ikebana retrospective for the 1900 Exposition Universelle. Ikebana is composed of three elements: shin (heaven, sun, male), soe (earth, female), and hikae/tai (humanity, child.) Gallé has arranged his flowers according to the Moribana school, a style of ikebana that came at the apex of the Meiji restoration. Shigemasa had his peonies according to Moribana principles: the right most "soe" flower leans at 45°, the middle "shin" flower at 10° and the leftmost "hikae" flower at 75°. Pivotal to ikebana is the principles of harmony and balance. It is the function of the 4
5° soe flower through angle to balance out the 75° hikae flower. While Gallé did not follow the rigid rules of Moribana, this should not be seen as an indication of inferiority. Rather, Gallé has merely solved the problem of balance in a different manner. While Shigemasa created a sense of balance through angle, Gallé made rendered the leftmost flower in madagascar ebony . The dark value serves as a visual weight, balancing an arrangement that otherwise approaches imbalance. Next to the Berce des prés is an Écaille martre (Tiger moth). Native to the same prairies as the Berce des prés, the inclusion of the Écaille martre gives the vitrine the crepuscular setting that Gallé loved so much. Literature: Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha, "Gallé Furniture," Woodbridge, Antique Collector''s Club, 2012, p. 307, pl.42, for a similar example.
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