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  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Gaillard, Eugène, born 1862 - died 1933 (designer)
    Bing, Siegfried, born 1838 - died 1905 (maker)
    Bing, Siegfried, born 1838 - died 1905 (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved walnut, upholstered in embossed and stained leather

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sir George Donaldson

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This dining chair was shown at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 by the enrepreneur and art dealer Siegfried (Samuel) Bing. In 1895 Bing founded a gallery in Paris, which he called 'L'Art Nouveau', which showed modern design. It became so influential that it gave its name to the contemporary design movement in France and throughout Europe and beyond. Bing sold the work of many of the most successful designers of the time from France and Britain, including Eugène Gaillard, who designed fabrics as well as furniture. Bing also manufactured some of the designs he sold, like this chair, while he bought others in.

Gaillard's success in flat pattern design can be seen in the sinuous forms with which he decorated the back of this chair. He believed that ornament should be inspired by nature, but that designers should not simply copy natural forms. The carved walnut frame appears to 'grow' organically, like the branches of a tree. The sinuous legs and stretchers are jointed in a traditional manner, but this is not apparent at first sight, and the sculptural form of the chair would have seemed entirely novel in 1900.

Physical description

Chair of carved walnut, the seat and back upholstered with embossed leather, partly stained green, fixed with brass nails.
The four legs are carved in shallow S curves and are shaped in section. On either side of the front legs, about half way up, diagonal stretchers appear to branch out and up, joining each back legs just below the seat rail and on the front uniting at the centre, just below the seat rail. The back stiles are continuations of the back legs and curve backwards. The leather seat (now re-upholstered over the original cover) is shallow in profile and is upholstered over the rails and held with brass nails. Larger brass nails with turned heads are set at the corners and two in the centre of front rail. The back shows a shaped panel of leather that covers the top rail and the top outer corners and is attached to the stiles over a low rail set between them. Between that it curves in at either side and is not attached to the stiles. The leather is embossed with a symmetrical, curved design and is partly coloured green. The back panel has been removed from the chair at some time and re-applied.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1900 (made)


Gaillard, Eugène, born 1862 - died 1933 (designer)
Bing, Siegfried, born 1838 - died 1905 (maker)
Bing, Siegfried, born 1838 - died 1905 (retailer)

Materials and Techniques

Carved walnut, upholstered in embossed and stained leather


Height: 94 cm, Width: 47.5 cm, Depth: 51.25 cm

Descriptive line

Chair, French, 1899-1900, designed by Gaillard, manufactured by Bing; Donaldson bequest 1900

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

Donaldson, George, The Victoria and Albert Museum. Gift of "New Art" Furniture for Circulation. The Magazine of Art, 1901, pp. 466-471 (illus.)

Labels and date



'American and European Art and Design 1800-1900'

This chair was shown in the dining-room of Bing's pavilion at the Paris 1900 Exhibition.

Given by Sir George Donaldson [1987-2006]


Walnut; Leather


Carving; Stamping; Staining; Upholstering




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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