Emile Gallé
Umbellules

Lady's Writing Desk "Umbellules"
Emile Gallé (1846-1904)
Lady's Writing Desk "Umbellules"
1900
Moulded, carved robinia, various inlaid woods
H. 160; W. 84; D. 55 cm
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt


Lady's Writing Desk "Umbellules"
Lady's Writing Desk "Umbellules"
Lady's Writing Desk "Umbellules"
Lady's Writing Desk "Umbellules"
Lady's Writing Desk "Umbellules"

Bureau de dame "Les Ombellules" [Lady's Writing Desk "Umbellules"]


This model was among Gallé's submissions to the Universal Exhibition in Paris in 1900. In the short catalogue written and printed by the artist for the occasion it was called Les Ombellules (Umbellules).

The desk is a song of praise to hogweed. The structural and carved elements have been taken from the stalk, foliage and flower heads of this one plant. Hogweed reappears on all the flat surfaces of the desk—the front of the drawer, the desktop, and the front and side panels of the upper structure which serves as shelves. The technique used for these parts is not sculpture but inlay. The umbellifers flower sumptuously in a Japanese arrangement based on asymmetry, inverted proportions and the rejection of illusionist perspective.

To catch the glittering of the flower heads in the light, Gallé has chosen three particularly colourful woods: Finnish birch, Japanese ash and silky oak from Tasmania. The plant's natural milieu—meadows and damp ditches—is suggested by broadly brushed landscapes, rendered once again by the veins and natural colouring of the wood, and by the frieze of frogs linking the back legs of the desk.




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