9210

A GILT-BRASS MOUNTED AND INLAID CENTER TABLE WITH UNUSUAL PARQUET PATTERN GOLD TRAVERTINE TOP BY LOUIS MAJORELLE

Nancy. Circa 1908

Measurements

Height: 30" (76.5cm)
Width: 67 3/4" (172cm)
Depth: 41" (104cm)

Research

Of purplewood, boxwood, mother-of-pearl, and gilt-bronze. The rectangular top with canted corners inset with a parquet of gold travertine with a gilt-bronze molded edge, the frieze mounted to each side with a gilt-bronze panel with stylized foliate decoration pierced with shaped lozenges, the whole raised on four tapering lozenge-shaped legs, each headed by a stylized foliate gilt-bronze panel, each leg inlaid to three sides with a shaped satinwood panel with cross-banded border inset with mother-of-pearl, each leg terminating in a pierced gilt-bronze mounted foot.

Marks:
One leg inlaid to the inside with circular disk
‘MAJORELLE NANCY’

Provenance:
Private Collection, Barcelona

Published:
Louis Majorelle: Master of Art Nouveau Design by Alistair Duncan, London: Thames & Hudson Ltd., 1991. 167, figure 10.

The inlaid signature MAJORELLE NANCY establishes this fascinating table as the work of the celebrated Art Nouveau and Art Deco furniture maker Louis Majorelle. Its innovative top is composed of gold travertine marble tiles, intended to evoke a wood parquet surface, both through the cut along the vein of the stones and their arrangement.

A contemporary photograph dating from between 1903 and 1908 shows a table of the same model as the present piece within a room setting of Majorelle’s works (figure 1).1 With boldly shaped and canted inlaid legs, striking mounts, especially to the frieze, and a finely polished conforming top, it is almost certainly the present piece. It is pictured in the same room as a side cabinet which shares the same lozenge-shaped mounts to the frieze and appears to be en suite with the table.

The date of the photograph places the table in the period of Majorelle’s most successful and acclaimed production, when the quality of the workmanship was at its height. Yet this period is also still primarily associated with Majorelle’s Art Nouveau idiom, rather than the distinctly progressive rectilinear design of the present table.

This more geometric phase of Majorelle’s work is usually associated with the cabinetmaker’s output after the first World War, when he came under the influence of the Art Deco Movement.  The Art Deco aesthetic was just beginning to emerge in France around 1908, and the work of younger cabinetmakers such as André Groult and Louis Süe is usually cited as heralding the post-Art Nouveau avant-garde in French furniture design.

However, the appearance of a table of the present form in a photograph of between 1903 and 1908 places Majorelle in the vanguard of the stylistic developments of the day. Its pared-down geometric form and stylized repeat pattern gilt-bronze mounts suggests a degree of experimentation with more progressive designs in Majorelle’s work at an earlier date than usually acknowledged. The use of geometric inlay to the legs adds to the sense of modernity which the table would have encapsulated in 1908, as does the distinctive and unusual marble top, which is particularly fascinating as it is composed of a geometric system resembling a parquet as found in floors.

Full research report available on request.

Full research report available on request.