Emile Galle – the furniture maker

Dear readers, as you know, due to my affection for Art Nouveau,  I have talked, and will do so also  in the future, about the great impact of Emille Galle s work in the decorative world, private life but also in shaping an entire ideology on living. He saw the process of living as a very harmonious delicate act, and aimed to pursue the limit of aesthetic refinement in his artefacts, never omitting the essential aim, that is to  bring closer the people to nature.

His organic sensual shapes were moulded in very special nuances of colours, and following new methods that he developed for manufacturing glass or producing unique wood marquetry. And it is this sector of his work that I would like to present you today, as it is to my view, on a very astonishing one, as it is without precedent.

Emile Galle , Victor Prouve Louis Hestaux  all sign the Table Le Rhin, 1889 , displayed at the Universal Exhibition in Paris. Out of the 14 pieces presented there by Gallle, this is nevertheless the most important one. Having a Renaissance look, its decor and symbolism relates to a said reality of the time, the annexation of Alsace Moselle by Prusia in 1871, event categorised as an injustice by Galle himself and to which he dedicates a numbers of works such as glasses, furniture and ceramics. In fact, the table consists of  a long frise, decorated by Victor Prouve depicting two groups of  Gallois and Germans, ready to fight each other. L Hestaux signs the decorative bordure from the bottom.The Lorain cote of arms and the Lorain cross are also present, both he ivy and the thistle (Nancy symbols) are also present, and represent the attachment for the annexed territories. Also displayed inn the Museum of Nancy School is the magnificent Cabinet de Chene Loraine and the Jardiniere in rocaille style, Flora marina Flora Exotica. A collaboration with V. Prouve  and Louis Hestaux, this object, that you could hardly believe was holding plants and compost at one time, it  displays mermaids swimming amid algae and an odalisque surrounded by Flammand roses. His vitrine, Lierre d Hiver 1902, the Sagitarius Table, the banquette and chair Berce des Press, are all example of detail work in depicting nature s wonder. Art in wood at its finest!  But the most impressive piece for me was the nuptial bed Aube et Crepuscule, displayed in Majorelle s Bedroom, a touching allegory on life and death. The commissioned product was made for the magistrate Henry Hirsch.  The cycle of life is represented there by two butterflies, one of the night, one of the day. At one end, in between its wings  the butterfly holds a crystal egg, symbolising the birth and preciousness of life. Its fragility is represented by the material used, that is glass. Rare essence wood, seashell, glass, they all talk about a new period in the marquetry work,  and an exceptional piece of Galle  masterpieces.




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