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Writing table

Writing table

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1899-1900 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bigaux, Louis (designer and maker)
    Bagués, E. (maker)
    Bagués, E. (decorator)
    Maison Bagués (maker)
    Maison Bagués (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved and turned pearwood, with gilt-brass mounts

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Sir George Donaldson

  • Museum number:

    1993:1, 2-1900

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The flowing, voluptuous curves of this writing table seem to create movement, calling to mind the amorphic shapes found in nature. In the years around 1900 a large number of young European designers sought to use materials commonly thought of as rigid – wood, glass and metals – in innovative ways. They imaginatively blended and adapted historical styles such as 18th-century French Rococo, with its shell and flower motifs, with Far Eastern and folk influences. The style became known as l’Art Nouveau, or ‘New Art’. It was seen at its highest state of development at the Paris International Exhibition in 1900.

This table is one of the items exhibited at the Paris exhibition. The artist Louis Bigaux designed it for the well-known manufacturer and retailer Maison Bagués. Bigaux’s work was unusual in comparison with that of other designers working in the Art Nouveau style, because he both understood and harnessed the production possibilities of machines. Many artists designed for hand manufacture, but Bigaux’s designs were often mass-produced and therefore cheaper. They were well adapted to a bourgeois clientele searching for elegant yet affordable furniture.

This writing table formed part of a suite of furniture, which otherwise comprised an armchair, a chair and a stool. They are all now in the V&A’s collection (1994-1900 to 1996-1900).

Physical description

Writing table of carved pearwood, with gilt-brass mounts. On either side of the kneehole is a single drawer in the frieze and these drawer sections are each raised on four legs, joined by a turned and carved H-stretcher, with two turned and carved uprights set half-way between the front and back legs.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1899-1900 (made)


Bigaux, Louis (designer and maker)
Bagués, E. (maker)
Bagués, E. (decorator)
Maison Bagués (maker)
Maison Bagués (retailer)

Materials and Techniques

Carved and turned pearwood, with gilt-brass mounts


Height: 75 cm, Width: 148.5 cm, Depth: 80 cm

Object history note

Exhibited at the 1900 Paris Exhibition and bought by Sir George Donaldson for the V&A

Descriptive line

Writing table of carved and turned pearwood with mounts of gilt brass

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

Designer: Louis Bigaux
Manufacturer: Maison Bagués
Paris: about 1900
Carved pearwood, with gilt bronze mounts and yellow velvet upholstery

1993, 1994 and 1996-1900

This suite was shown at the Paris 1900 Exhibition.

Given by Sir George Donaldson [pre 1990]


Pearwood; Gilt brass


Cabinet-making; Carved; Cast; Chased; Gilded

Subjects depicted

Foliage; Flowers




Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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