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Fire screen
  • Fire screen
    Gallé, Emile Charles Martin, born 1846 - died 1904
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Fire screen

  • Place of origin:

    Nancy, France (made)

  • Date:

    1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Gallé, Emile Charles Martin, born 1846 - died 1904 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ash, with applied floral decoration and marquetry in various woods; back veneered with maple

  • Credit Line:

    Given by George Donaldson

  • Museum number:

    1985-1900

  • Gallery location:

    Europe & America 1800-1900, room 101, case 5

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Emile Gallé started his career by designing glassware and earthenware for his father’s firm in Saint-Clément, north-east France, in the 1860s. By 1874, he had taken over his father’s firm, now established in nearby Nancy, and begun to revolutionise its products with new glass designs in the Art Nouveau style. In 1884 he opened a furniture-making workshop and he soon became famous for his elegant Art Nouveau pieces, of which this fire screen is typical.

Gallé had studied botany as a young man and his love of plants is evident in many of the pieces he made. Here the flowing lines of the overall design and of the marquetry decoration transform what was a very traditional item of furniture. The marquetry is combined not only with high-relief carving but also with subtle low-relief carving of the fronds and leaves, which add a subtle depth to the design.

Physical description

Firescreen, ash, with applied floral decoration and marquetry in various woods, back veneered with maple. The screen is raise on four feet, two at each side, the feet flowing into the narrow, curved frame surrounding the inverted pear shaped panel.

Place of Origin

Nancy, France (made)

Date

1900 (made)

Artist/maker

Gallé, Emile Charles Martin, born 1846 - died 1904 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Ash, with applied floral decoration and marquetry in various woods; back veneered with maple

Dimensions

Height: 107.5 cm, Width: 56 cm, Depth: 35 cm

Descriptive line

Firescreen, ash with applied floral decoration and marquetry in various woods, Emile Gallé, France, 1900

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Baker, Malcolm and Richardson, Brenda, eds. A Grand Design : The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London: V&A Publications, 1997. 431 p., ill. ISBN 1851773088.
This firescreen, like the Majorelle cabinet (cat. 165), was one of the Art Nouveau objects purchased for the V&A by George Donaldson from the 1900 Paris Exposition Universelle. Emile Gallé was a leading designer and manufacturer of glass (by 1900 he employed more than 300 workers at his Nancy factory) and, from 1884, furniture as well; he won prizes for both at the 1900 exhibition. Gallé studied botany and mineralogy at university, and he passionately advocated natural ornament in furniture.
The firescreen's decoration of dancing leaves and swooping vines-whose tendrils snake along the screen's framework and even wrap around its legs, thus integrating structure and decoration-is archetypal Art Nouveau and quintessential Gallé.

RICHARD DUNN/BRENDA RICHARDSON
Greenhalgh, Paul Ed., Art Nouveau : 1890 - 1914. London: V&A Publications, 2000. 464 p., 10.11pl, ill. ISBN 1851772774
Donaldson, George, The Victoria and Albert Museum. Gift of "New Art" Furniture for Circulation. The Magazine of Art, 1901, pp. 466-471 (illus.)
Neiswander, Judith A., 'Fantastic Malady' or Competitive Edge? English Outrage at Art Nouveau in 1901. Apollo, Nov. 1988, vol. CXXVIII, no. 321, pp. 310-313, plus footnotes p. 379 (illus.)

Exhibition History

A Grand Design - The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum (Victoria and Albert Museum 12/10/1999-16/01/2000)
Art Nouveau (Metropolitan Art Museum, Tokyo 21/04/2001-08/07/2001)
Art Nouveau (National Gallery of Art, Washington 08/10/2000-28/01/2001)
Art Nouveau (Victoria and Albert Museum 06/04/2000-30/07/2000)

Labels and date

FIRESCREEN
Designer and manufacturer: Emile Gallé (1846-1904)
France (Nancy): about 1900
Ash with applied and marquetry decoration in various woods

1985-1900

Signed 'Gallé', this screen, decorated with wild clematis, exhibits the whip-lash curve, which is a recurring feature of French and Belgian Art Nouveau design. It was shown at the Paris 1900 Exhibition.

Given by Sir George Donaldson [pre 1990]
Europe and America 1800-1900, room 101

FIRE SCREEN
1900
Shown at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1900

France, Nancy; designed and made by Emile Gallé

Ash, with applied and marquetry decoration in various woods

Museum no. 1985-1900
Given by Sir George Donaldson

In 1884 Gallé began to make furniture alongside his glassware. This fire screen is typical of the elegant Art Nouveau pieces for which he soon became famous. It also shows his knowledge and love of plants. The flowing outline and marquetry decoration are combined with carvings of fronds and leaves, all with the sinuous lines that typified Art Nouveau. [2006]

Materials

Maple; Ash; Amboyna; Sabicu; Zebra wood

Techniques

Carving; Marquetry; Joinery

Subjects depicted

Leaves; Whiplash curves

Categories

Furniture; Woodwork

Collection code

FWK

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