Fire Screen thumbnail 1
Fire Screen thumbnail 2
Not currently on display at the V&A

Fire Screen

1900 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Ash, with applied floral decoration and marquetry in various woods, including elm, burr elm, walnut, amboyna, sabicu and mahogany; back veneered with maple
Brief Description
Firescreen, ash with applied floral decoration and marquetry in various woods, Emile Gallé, France, 1900
Physical Description
Firescreen, with frame of carved oak, the surface veneered in ash (the grain set horizontally), with applied floral decoration and marquetry in various woods, both native to Europe and imported from tropical areas of the world. The back is veneered with burr maple. The marquetry on the front shows wild clematis (Clematis vitalba), known in Britain as 'Traveller's Joy' or 'Old Man's Beard', and the stems of this plant form the carved frame. Two of the main inlaid fronds are set in high relief and carved in oak (like the frame), with one leaf (the lowest) in zebra-wood. Other woods inlaid into the ash ground probably include elm, burr elm, walnut, amboyna, sabicu and mahogany, although none of these have been confirmed by microscopic examination. The screen is raised on four feet, two at each side, the feet flowing into the narrow, curved frame surrounding the inverted pear shaped panel.



Gallé's signature is inlaid into the lower left of the panel, running vertically, in a form inspired by Japan.



There is almost no shrinkage in the panel, even after more than a century, suggesting that the marquetry is laid onto a substrate of plywood, which Gallé is known to have used by this date, although it may simply be a single board that is veneered on both sides with woods set with the grain running at right angles to the grain of the core board.
Dimensions
  • Height: 107.5cm
  • Width: 56cm
  • Depth: 35cm
Style
Gallery Label
  • Europe and America 1800-1900, room 101 FIRE SCREEN 1900 Shown at the International Exhibition, Paris, 1900 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. France, Nancy; designed and made by Emile Gallé Ash, with applied and marquetry decoration in various woods Given by Sir George Donaldson (05/08/;2015)
  • 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)
Credit line
Given by George Donaldson
Object history
Shown by Gallé at the International Exhibition in Paris, 1900 (group XII, class 69), where it won a prize. Purchased by the Vice-President of the jury for furniture, George Donaldson, and presented to the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A), together with a large collection of furniture in the Art Nouveau style.



Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
  • Greenhalgh, Paul (Ed.), Art Nouveau: 1890-1914 . London: V&A Publications, 2000
  • Donaldson, George, The Victoria and Albert Museum. Gift of "New Art" Furniture for Circulation. The Magazine of Art, 1901 (vol. XXV), pp. 466-471, illus. p. 469
  • 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.)
  • Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha, 'Gallé Furniture' (Woodbridge, Antique Collectors' Club, 2012, ISBN 978 1 85149 662 4, illus. on p. 63.
  • Art & Design in Europe and America 1800-1900. Introduction by Simon Jervis (London: The Herbert Press, 1987), pp. 208, 212.
Collection
Accession Number
1985-1900

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record createdNovember 27, 2000
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