A French Art Nouveau games table by Louis Majorelle, featuring an inlaid marquetry top and carved legs and skirt. The marquetry decoration features stems, leave and, flowers around a central, bordered section. There is also marquetry decoration on the table skirt. The carving on the skirt and table legs features three-leaf clovers, which climb the legs and end in flower buds. A similar table is pictured in "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue).
A French Art Nouveau two-tiered ""Caltha des Marais" table with ormolu mounts by Louis Majorelle. The table was created at the height of Majorelle''s most fertile period. While pastiches marked Majorelle''s early career, Majorelle''s mature style reduced the excessive ornament of the ancien regime into the fluid line of modernity. This reduction is most apparent in the table''s skirt, where the baroque swag motif transforms into a graduating concave form. The table''s ormolu mounts are bereft of foliate scrolls and grotesque motifs. Instead, Majorelle''s sophisticated naturalism takes inspiration from the flowers of his native Nancy. Marsh marigolds form the top of each mount. Among the few flowers to grow in the caliginous marshes, their yellow petals are a welcome respite to the eye. So loved was the marsh marigold that Shakespeare proclaimed they grew at heaven''s gate, "Hark, hark! The lark at heaven''s gate sings...His steeds to water at those springs, On chaliced flowers that lies; And winking Mary-buds begin, To ope their golden eyes." The marsh marigolds terminate in "saggitaire fleche d''eau" or arrowhead leaves. Both flowers were endemic to lakes in the Vosges region. The tabletop is set with Amboyna burl veneer. Amboyna veneer is among the world''s rarest and most expensive veneers — holding the distinction of being the original wood used on Rolls Royce dashboards.
Against the sobriety of the walnut skirt, the Amboyna burl gives the table an air of luxury. A similar table is pictured in: "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. III: Furniture," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1996, p. 396 (Chairs and tables Salon, 1904); and in: "Louis Majorelle: Master of Art Nouveau Design," by Alastair Duncan, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991, plate 57.
A French Art Nouveau cameo glass vase by Daum, decorated with deeply wheel-carved green flowers on rose and pink ground, with applied foot. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: "Daum Nancy III" by Katharina Büttiker, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 2009, p. 88 ("Fern" Vase).
A French Art Nouveau wheel-carved and acid-etched cameo glass vase by Daum, featuring a carved mottled pink flower against an opaque textured ground. An identical vase is pictured in: "Daum: Collection du muse des Beaux-Arts de Nancy," Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2000, cat. no. 219.
A French Art Nouveau cameo glass vase by Daum, featuring deep blue flowers on a mottled white and blue ground. The vase has both wheel-carving and martelé techniques. A similar vase is pictured in: "Daum Nancy III: Daum Frères – Verreries de Nancy, 1880-1930," by Katharina Büttiker, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 2009, p. 149.
A French Art Nouveau wheel-carved cameo glass pitcher by Daum, featuring an applied flowering white jonquils with yellow centers, flower buds and blades of grass against a mottled blue and white ground. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: "Daum Nancy: Maîtres Verriers" by Katharina Büttiker, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 2001, p. 125, cat. no. 76.
A French Art Nouveau wheel-carved cameo glass vase by Daum, featuring a blooming flower in a deep blue, on an opaque white and mottled blue ground. A vase decorated in a similar style is pictured in: "Daum: Collection du muse des Beaux-Arts de Nancy," Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2000, cat. no. 206.
A French Art Nouveau wheel-carved cameo glass vase by Daum, featuring blue flowers and dark green stems and leaves against a mottled white and blue ground. A vase decorated in a similar style is pictured in: "Daum: Collection du muse des Beaux-Arts de Nancy," Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2000, cat. no. 224.
A French Art Nouveau cameo glass "Snow Drop" vase by Daum, featuring carved light blue flowers on brown stems against a mottled white and blue ground. A similar vase is pictured in: "Daum Nancy: Maîtres Verriers" by Katharina Büttiker, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 2001, p. 68, cat. no. 43.
A French Art Nouveau cameo glass vase by Daum, comprised of three pinkish-red poppy flowers wheel carved to show different stages of bloom, against a sky blue martelé technique background, with brown foliage and peach tones towards the bottom to represent the rising sun. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: "Daum: Maitres Verriers, 1890-1980," by Noël Daum, Lausanne: Edita Denoël, 1980, p. 115 (bottom left); and in: "Daum Nancy III: Daum Frères – Verreries de Nancy, 1880-1930," by Katharina Büttiker, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 2009, p. 118.
A French Art Nouveau clear glass vase with green cameo overlay in a squash blossom motif by Daum. The vase has deep green leaves, buds, flowers and a squash suspended from sinuous vines. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: "Daum: Collection du muse des Beaux-Arts de Nancy," Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, 2000, cat. no. 224.
A French Art Nouveau "Rose de France" vase by Emile Gallé. In 1870, Nancy, the home of Gallé, was annexed by Germany as a result of the defeat of France in the Franco-Prussian war. Gallé chose to use the motif of the red rose, which only bloomed in the Mt. Saint-Quentin province of Lorraine, as a symbol of his strident patriotism. In 1902 a vase from this series was presented to the Russian emperor as a prestigious gift from France. The vase shows Gallé''s innovative technique of glass marquetry which involved the incorporation of glass fragments of various thickness, shapes and colors into the still malleable glass. The multi-layering of glass and the use of metallic foils behind the glass make this piece so exceptional. A similar vase is pictured in: "Gallé", catalogue for the exhibition at le Musée du Luxembourg, Paris, November 1985-February 1986, "Paris: Éditions de la Réunion des muse nationaux", 1985, p. 149.
A French Art Nouveau ceramic "Gourd" vase designed by Ernest Bussière and produced by Keller et Guérin, featuring stylized high-relief berries on the gourd form, with green and purple enameled glazes. This vase was shown at the Exposition de l''Ecole de Nancy in Paris in 1903 (see "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. IV: Ceramics and Glass," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1998, p.261).
A French Art Nouveau vase designed by Ernest Bussière and produced by Keller et Guérin, depicting two lizards in high relief wrapped around the rim. The vase features iridescent milky-green and mauve glazes with iridescent highlights. A similar vase was shown at the Exposition de l''Ecole de Nancy in Paris in 1903 (see "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. IV: Ceramics and Glass," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1998, p.260).
A French Art Nouveau vase by Keller and Guérin, from a design by Ernest Bussière, featuring the form of a closed flower in relief, with iridescent milky-green and mauve glazes. A similar vase was shown at the Exposition de l''Ecole de Nancy in Paris in 1903 (see "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. IV: Ceramics and Glass," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1998, p. 260).
A French Art Nouveau iridescent glazed ceramic "Ombellifère" vase designed by Ernest Bussière and produced by Keller et Guérin, depicting ombelle blossoms in low relief, with six flowers whose stems extend away from the body of the vase to form delicate handles. A similar vase was shown at the Exposition de l''Ecole de Nancy in Paris in 1903 (see "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. IV: Ceramics and Glass," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1998, p.260).
A French Art Nouveau ceramic vase designed by Ernest Bussière and produced by Keller et Guérin. The vase is decorated with vegetal forms and has a glaze of pale green with traces of purple. A similar vase was shown at the Exposition de l''Ecole de Nancy in Paris in 1903 (see "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. IV: Ceramics and Glass," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1998, p.260).
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 mahogany center table by Louis Majorelle, the rounded top above a slightly bowed frieze, over downswept tapering channeled legs joined by a conforming undertier, ending in attenuated foliate cast sabots. A similar table is pictured in "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue) .
A French Art Nouveau two-tier wooden pedestal by Louis Majorelle, featuring a triangular top, a clover-shaped second tier and three sinuous, carved supports. A similar table is pictured in "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue).
A French Art Nouveau mahogany two-tiered square table by Louis Majorelle, featuring featuring a detailed border on the top tier and gilt bronze sabots on the legs. A similar table is pictured in "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue).
A French Art Nouveau mahogany table by Louis Majorelle, featuring a detailed border on the top tier and gilt bronze sabots on the legs. A similar table is pictured in "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue).
A French Art Nouveau mahogany Ecole de Nancy desk, featuring a hand-tooled leather top, letter rack and bronze drawer pulls with a floral motif. The rounded carved details also draw inspiration from vegetal forms.
A French Art Nouveau cameo glass vase by Émile Gallé. This large vase is decorated with wheel carved purple trumpet-creepers and vines against a green background. The flowers and vines climb up the ribbed neck of the vase. The "liseron" vase is a flattened baluster form vase with an everted mouth, rounded and polished rim, long slender-waisted neck, short globular body, and an applied disk foot. The vase features an intercalaire layer of coarse jade frit in the top three-quarters of the vase and fine indigo frit in the bottom quarter of the vase. To construct the vase, a bubble was blown into the gather, which was cased and parison inflated into a dip mold with 19 ribs. The stem was subsequently plucked out and twisted counterclockwise. Finally, a soffieta was used to open the mouth and a pair of jacks was used to evert the rim. The vase was later cameo cut with exquisite detailing in the venation and the hirsute texture of the leaves. The vase depicts eight heads of Liseron japonais (Ipomoea nil ([Japanese morning glory].) The flower was introduced to Nancy by Takashima Hokkai, a fellow member of the Ecole de Nancy and Japanese Director of Forestry. Hokkai was invited as a juror for the Central Nancy Horticultural society exhibition of 1887. At the exhibition, Gallé presented Hokkai a Japanese morning glory in thanks for his contributions to the field of horticulture.
The Japanese morning glory adorned the walls of Gallé''s studio until his death in 1904. To accompany this oriental flower, Gallé has given the morning glories a jade background. Commonly featured in the eighteenth century Shigemasa Kitao birds and flower prints that Gallé consulted, the creation of a jade simulant is only fitting for this oriental flower.
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 marble top guéridon by Louis Majorelle. The legs, apron and cross piece of this triangular table are carved with flowers, vines and leaves. Fashioned of marble and carved and molded mahogany, the Chevrefuille guéridon''s sophisticated and dynamic design is enhanced by the sinuous curves of its chevrefuille (honeysuckle) motif. In this piece, Majorelle breathes new life into old tradition.The tabletop is inset with the highest grade rosso di verona marble: white veined orange nodules set within a red matrix. The guéridon''s top, apron, legs and stretcher are carved with chevrefuille (honeysuckle) motif. The two words that make up chevrefoil, chevre (from chevreuil (roe deer)) and feuille (leaf), reveal the vine''s negative connotation within French culture. Chevreuil fauns putatively became intoxicated from the shoots of the chevrefeuille. The chevreuil was so named after the chevre (goat) due to its goat like head. The goat with its nineteenth century evocation of the occult and sexuality only added to the plant''s profanity. The Chevrefuille guéridon refers to Marie de France''s thirteenth century "Chevrefeuille", a French variation of the Tristan Legend. Majorelle had previously created furniture based on the flowers of the Tristan legend, but none so magnificently convey the essence of the story as this guéridon. With the ubiquity of Wagner''s Tri
stan und Isolde in fin-de-siecle France, contemporary artistic circles would have easily understood the work''s iconography. Isolde had told Tristan that if a chevrefuille (honeysuckle vine) wraps itself around a branch of hazelwood (noisitier), the two could not be separated without killing them both. While lying in wait for Isolde, Tristan carves a line into a hazelwood branch and plants it along her courtly procession: "Belle amie, ainsi en est-il de nous: Ni vous sans moi, ni moi sans vous!" "Beautiful friend so it is with us: neither you without me, or me without you." After the lover''s commit suicide, a hazel entwined by a honeysuckle emerge from their grave despite King Mark''s attempt to exterminate them. Despite the illicit nature of the lover''s affair, the couple never consummate, thus maintaining Isolde''s virginity. The honeysuckle''s deforms the hazel tree, minimizing its utility. Through the form of the table and the honeysuckle''s iconographic meaning, Majorelle creates drama between the sacred and the profane. The form of the guéridon evokes the architecture of the gothic church, from the reuleaux shape of the tabletop to the y-shaped dome of the stretcher. The honeysuckle twists about the table without corrupting the table''s divine form, thereby creating the purity of the union in death. This message was communicated in "Liebestod", the climactic end of Tristan und Isolde that literally means love-death. A similar gueridon appears in "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue).
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 and a key with floral decoration. The mirrored vitrine backing enables one to view the backside of the collection housed within. 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 "Winter Scene" cameo glass vase by Daum Nancy. A group of bare trees in the foreground sit on snowy ground under a yellow and orange sky. A larger group of bare trees are in the background. PROVENANCE: From an Unreserved Texas Estate. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: Daum Frères: Maîtres Verriers, 1892-1935, by Katharina Büttiker-Weber, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 1986, cat. no 27.
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 Art Nouveau "Winter Landscape" vase with an inverted lip, by Daum Nancy. The etched and enameled glass vase depicts trees in a barren meadow, a forested background against an amber and orange sky. PROVENANCE: From an Unreserved Texas Estate. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: Daum Frères: Maîtres Verriers, 1892-1935, by Katharina Büttiker-Weber, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 1986, cat. no 27.
A French Art Nouveau marquetry vase by Émile Gallé. The vase features crocus flowers in hues of orange and purple against a cream ground with stripes in pink and red. The vase is accented with an applied band of tendrils backed by silver foil inclusions. A similar vase is pictured in: Émile Gallé et le Verre, la Collection du musée de l''École de Nancy, Parks: Somogy editions d''art, 2004, p. 137, ca. not. 222.
A pair of French Art Nouveau "Pommes de Pin" armchairs by Louis Majorelle. The chairs have meticulous carving of pine cones on their arms, legs and backs. They are upholstered in a rich green velour. Similar armchairs are pictured in: "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronnerie"s (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue) (Salon "Pommes de Pins").
A French cameo glass vase by Daum. The vase, with martelé background, has red wheel-carved lily flowers rising on green stems from its carved green base. A vase with similar decoration is pictured in: Daum Nancy III: Daum Frères – Verreries de Nancy, 1880-1930, by Katharina Büttiker, Zurich: Galerie Katharina Büttiker, 2009, pp. 52-53.
A Tiffany Studios New York "Olive" covered box by, executed by the Enamelware Department of Stonebridge Glass Company, New York. This fabulous masterpiece is composed of enameled copper. The cover is decorated with olives, purple-brown copper branches and deep green leaves. From Paul Doros: "This enameled covered box clearly reveals the quality and innovative artistry that led to the company winning a gold medal at that world''s fair. It is of a familiar form but features an unusual motif and palette. Both the cover and slightly ribbed body have a repoussé design of ripening olives and pendant leaves on sinuous branches, one of them forming an irregular sculptural handle. The gold background is particularly noteworthy. Most Tiffany enamels of this type have a ground in shades of either red or blue. The background used in this object is perfectly suited, as it suggests olives ripening under a warm, golden sun. Hints of gold glimmer and sparkle through the slightly iridescent aubergine and purple olives, as well as the green leaves, adding to the illusion. It was pieces such as this one that caused contemporary critics to proclaim Tiffany''s enamels as "rare works of art" as well as "visions of delight." Paul Doros is former curator of glass at the Chrysler Museum of Art (Norfolk, Virginia) and author of The Art Glass of Louis Comfort Tiffany (New York: Vendome Press)
, 2013. PROVENANCE Parke-Bernet Galleries Inc., New York Private Collection, New York, circa 1965 Thence by descent to the present owners LITERATURE Martin Eidelberg and Nancy McClelland, "Behind the Scenes of Tiffany Glassmaking: The Nash Notebooks," New York, 2001, pp. 21 and 178 (for the model executed in pottery) Alastair Duncan, "Louis C. Tiffany: The Garden Museum Collection," Woodbridge, Suffolk, 2004, pp. 466 (for the model executed in pottery) and 471 (for the model executed in bronze pottery)
A French Art Nouveau walnut pedestal attributed to Emile André, featuring sinuous legs with understated organic carvings. A similar pedestal is pictured in "The Paris Salons 1895-1915, Vol. III: Furniture," by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge, Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1996, p. 40 (Exposition de l''Ecole de Nancy, Paris, 1903).
A pair of French Art Nouveau carved walnut arm chairs, by Louis Majorelle, model "Aubepines." The chairs have hawthorn leaves and berries carved on the arms, backs, legs and seat support. Similar armchairs are pictured in: "Majorelle - Nancy: décorations d''intérieurs: meubles, tentures, bronzes, ferronneries" (the 1906 Majorelle catalogue); and in: "Louis Majorelle: Master of Art Nouveau Design," by Alastair Duncan, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991, plate 62.
A French Art Nouveau "Chardons des Sables" chest of drawers by Émile Gallé. The "Chardons des Sables" (sand thistle) commode is a moving meditation on mortality. Gallé created this piece in 1903, after he was diagnosed with leukemia. He died the following year. Gallé has rendered a vista redolent of a longing for return. The commode''s central "sand thistle" motif alludes to a passage in Victor Hugo''s poem Les contemplations, Paroles sur la dune (1854): Maintenant que mon temps décroît comme un flambeau Que mes tâches sont terminées; Maintenant que voici que je touche au tombeau Par les deuils et par les années, (...) Je regarde, au dessus du mont et du vallon, Et des mers sans fin remuées, S''envoler sous le bec du vautor aquilon, Toute la toisuon des nuées (...) Et je pense, écoutant gémir le vent amer, Et l''onde aux plis infranchissables; L''été rit, et l''on voit sur le bord de la mer Fleurir le chardon bleu des sables. Now that, like candlelight, my lifetime wanes And my tasks are complete; Now that I, passing years and faced with pains, Find the grave at my feet, (...) I watch, high over mountaintop and vale And ever-surging sea, Before the beak of that vulture the gale, The woolen clouds all flee. (...) So I reflect, hearing the wind''s harsh roar, And the wave''s boundless pow
er Though summer smiles, and on the sandy shore, See the blue sand thistle flower. Like Victor Hugo in Les contemplations, Paroles sur la dune, the sand thistle figured on the marquetry frontispiece is towards the end of its bloom season. Most of the flower heads have turned dark brown and three have detached from their rosettes only to blow away in the ocean gale. To understand the extent of Gallé''s thematic dedication, one need only look at a blackened sand thistle leaf located in the center back of the commode top. The leaf is of the same value as the aqueous background, rendering it nearly imperceptible. Though seemingly a superfluous detail, the leaf''s inclusion completes the piece''s narrative: the plant, like the artist, fades into oblivion. Gallé''s pairing of image and poem is steeped in Japanese tradition. Gallé believed that Japanese artists painted with a "spirituel pinceau" (spiritual brush) and that marine plants were "bulleuse calligraphie" (blistered calligraphy). Unlike his previous Hugo-inspired furniture, Gallé has opted not to include the refrains of the poem that inspired this piece in the marquetry. Instead the work itself has become the poem. Gallé had previously synthesized land and sea in his 1889 Flora Marina, Flora exotica jardiniere. While his prior explorations of the theme relied heavily on allegory and ornate high relief carving, the "Chardons des Sables" commode is a prime example of Gallé''s aesthetic maturation into a thoroughly modern artist. Gone are the ink and shellac outlines and the sand-shaded wood. Rather, Gallé has taken advantage of the striations, figuring and coloration of the natural veneer. The "Chardon des sables" commode stands on four short legs with five long drawers in a carcass of walnut. The first and fifth drawer feature umbelliferae friezes. The second to fourth drawer fronts are veneered with marquetry panels showing "Chardon des sables" in front of the sea. The sky background of the second and third drawer utilizes Burmese rosewood. While rays are a cell type present in all hardwoods, woods in which the rays appear as parallel minute dark stripes of wood are rare. This feature, termed "storied rays," are only found in choice species of tropical hardwoods. For the background of the commode''s frontispiece, the ray patterning serves as a secondary pattern to the dominant dark veining. In this way, although the sky and sea are represented by different wood species, the storied rays imbue the piece with a visual harmony. The Burmese rosewood used in the sky was selected so that the height between each striation decreased as it approached the horizon thereby creating a depth of field. The striation terminates two-thirds of the way down the third drawer. The uniformity from this point until the horizon line mimics the way in which clouds merge into a continuous layer in the deep background. The Le Champ du Sang commode, a piece created three years prior to this one, for the Exposition Universelle de 1900, was designed in a similar compositional formula: foreground flowers and low horizon line. The horizon line was articulated as a hard edge with two contrasting pieces of wood spliced together. The stillness of the scene is palpably felt. As opposed to Le Champ du Sang, the Chardons des Sables commode features a remarkably seamless transition between the sky and the undulating ripples of the sea. Recent close examination has confirmed that the pattern was formed by cutting a single piece of veneer using two different methods. This is evidenced by the wood''s ray arrangement. The first quarter of the drawer is uniformly colored with horizontally storied rays. In the undulating dark brown pattern of the bottom three-quarters of the drawer, the ray arrangement becomes varied (horizontally, obliquely and vertically.) Horizontal storied rays only become visible in crown cut veneer where the wood is cut tangentially to the growth ring. Meanwhile, the varied "storied ray" arrangement only becomes visible when the wood is rotary cut, wherein, the log is centered on a lathe and turned against a broad cutting knife set into the log at a slight angle. To create the veneer''s pattern, the wood must have first been rotary cut. The log had to be subsequently removed from the lathe, and a steam-powered band saw had to rip the wood precisely a few millimeters to the left and right of the rotary cut''s terminus. The method used in the fourth drawer was an extremely time-consuming and precise method of cutting-- all done for the sake of capturing the artist''s compelling personal vision. The characteristic dark-veined swirled grain rotary cut pattern combined with the pommele markings present throughout distinguish the wood as Bubinga, a wood sourced from Equatorial Africa. The density of the pommele-figured Bubinga causes a chatoyant (changeable luster) effect. The resultant sheen simulates the way that light dapples across the water, ideal for Gallé''s representation of the ocean. The work stands out not only in its exceptional artistic technique but also marks the culmination of a scientific career. A lifetime as a botanist had given Gallé a penchant for morphological accuracy. Gallé had previously depicted other species of brittle stars, namely the Striped Ophiolepis superba. While Ophiolepis superba features short to non-existent arm spines, Gallé has chosen to depict the long arm spined Ophiothrix fragilis (hairy brittle star). Using an astounding economy of means, Gallé articulated these spines using the natural wood texture of the Cocos nucifera (Red Coconut Palm.) The contrasting red-brown, black and light gray-brown fibrovascular bundles of the Coconut Palm respectively articulate the negative space between the spines, the shadows of each spine, and the delicate mucosal spines themselves. In another instance of material specificity, the bumpy conceptacles (reproductive cavities) on a bladderwrack are rendered by Gallé using birdseye-figured Acer saccharum (Sugar Maple.) Gallé collected and preserved a variety of seaweed and shell specimens while in the Keller villa. Charles Keller (alias Jacques Turbin) was an anarchist, activist, poet and archaeologist. Keller had built a seafront villa in Carnac, Brittany after the excavation in 1862 of the Saint-Michel Tumulus, a megalithic grave mound. He regularly invited Gallé to this seaside retreat, and even when Gallé returned to Nancy, Keller was sure to send new species to add to Gallé''s burgeoning herbarium. Gallé''s choice of motifs on the commode''s top go far beyond scientific interest in morphological accuracy. Integral to Gallé''s macchia is the dissimilarity of the stiff and flexible, the brittle and fluid. Unlike the closely-related sea star, brittle stars have sinuous flexing arms, giving their legs an efflorescent appearance. This quality makes the brittle star an ideal object of representation. Conversely, the thick stem of the star thistle reads to the viewer as kelp in this underwater milieu. At the point in which the marine becomes flora and flora becomes marine, the conceptual unity of the piece reaches its culmination. Hugo, Victor, E. H. Blackmore, and A. M. Blackmore. 2004. Selected poems of Victor Hugo: a bilingual edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Gallé, Emile. 1908. Écrits pour l''art: floriculture, art décoratif, notices d''exposition, 1884-1889. Paris: Renouard. https://archive.org/details/critspourlartflo00gall. Pictured in: "The Paris Salons 1895-1914 Volume III: Furniture," by Alastair Duncan, Antique Collectors Club, 1996, page 235.
A Tiffany Studios New York "Peony" table lamp. The shade features three different peony cultivars from Tiffany''s garden at Laurelton Hall: the Greek Peony (Paeonia parnassica), (Cup of Shining Night), and Shima Nishiki. This "Peony" lamp is an unusual variant featuring gold-Ruby drapery glass. This rare and costly glass variety was colored using gold chloride and produced in limited quantities between 1888 and 1890. Distinguishing this lamp is the nuance in coloration and texture. The palette of the lamp includes three different types of blue, five different types of green and three different types of red in a plethora of combinations and textures. The lampshade sits atop a rare Tiffany Studios New York patinated bronze lamp base with pierced Onion Bulb design. A similar shade is pictured in: "The Lamps of Louis Comfort Tiffany", by Martin Eidelberg, Alice Cooney Frelinghuysen, Nancy A. McClelland, and Lars Rachen, New York: The Vendome Press, 2005, p. 21, plate 20. A similar base is pictured in: "Tiffany Lamps and Metalware: An illustrated reference to over 2000 models", by Alastair Duncan, Woodbridge: Suffolk: Antique Collectors'' Club, 1988, p. 85, plate 330.
An Art Nouveau style wall shelf with Calla Lilies, also known as bog arum. The Calla lily was endemic to the lakes of the Vosges, the mountain range of the Alsace-Lorraine region. The Vosges were of considerable inspiration to the artists of the ecole d''nancy and the eighteenth century of the Hautes Vosges frequently attracted the school''s botanical artists.
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