3 Black and white photographs of hanging lighting fixtures

Hanging light fixtures by Majorelle.

Authors: Stephen Van Dyk and Adrienne Meyer

This early 20th century trade catalog in the Cooper Hewitt Library includes furniture, lighting, and decorative objects in the art nouveau style created by the French firm of Majorelle.

Louis Majorelle (1859-1926), an important French furniture manufacturer, took over his father Auguste’s cabinet making workshop in Nancy in 1879.  By the end of the nineteenth century, the École de Nancy (of which Majorelle was a prominent figure) spearheaded an art nouveau style that employed curvilinear lines and forms inspired by nature, notably waterlilies, thistles and dragonflies to create elegantly crafted objects to enhance the beauty of the home. By 1900, Majorelle was the leading manufacturer of art nouveau furnishings, producing high quality, machine-made pieces in a series of workshops specializing in cabinet making, metalwork, and marquetry.

Majorelle Dining room furniture. Sideboards, dining table and chair.

Majorelle Dining room furniture. Sideboards, dining table and chair.

This 95 page trade catalog, dating to ca.1910-1915, provides an important overview of Majorelle’s style; his elegant incorporation of bronze mounts and marquetry on polished wood surfaces, uses of botanical motifs such as lilacs, vines, or ferns, and reinterpretation of the structure and form in his furniture that accentuate the organic flowing line.  Included are room settings for bedrooms, dining areas, sitting rooms and work rooms where, like the Aesthetic movement, Majorelle advocates that all elements of an interior (carpets to wallcoverings) are to be aesthetically unified.

Stephen Van Dyk recently retired as Head Librarian at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Library.

Adrienne Meyer was an executive in the fashion industry for twenty years, before entering the Parsons Graduate Program, graduating in 2016. She has contributed important research to special projects at The New York Historical Society and the Cooper Hewitt , Smithsonian Design Museum and Library.

One thought on “French Elegance

Oh this was a most intriguing and enlightening post. Somehow didn’t realize such catalogues were within your holdings. Most educational and “Thank you” for the submittal.

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