Musée d'Orsay: Emile Gallé Lorraine Forest Desk

Emile Gallé
Lorraine Forest Desk

Lorraine Forest
Emile Gallé (1846-1904)
Lorraine Forest
Sculpted lakeside oak with mouldings, inlay work of various woods
H. 108.5; W. 78.5; D. 56 cm
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

Lorraine Forest
Lorraine Forest (detail)
Lorraine Forest (detail)
Lorraine Forest (detail)
Lorraine Forest (detail)

Bureau La Forêt lorraine [Lorraine Forest Desk]

This particular bureau from the Lorraine Forest series is certainly one of the most beautiful known examples of the model which was presented at the Paris World Fair in 1900.

The piece is highly indicative of the influence that the Louis XV style, and in the present case the Louis XVI style, had on Gallé's work. The quality of both the materials and the execution is quite exceptional. The inlaid panels on the lid, sides and back - veritable hymns of praise to the orchids of Lorraine - lend the bureau its title. The various species, ophrys insectifera, cypripedium calceolus, are represented in their natural habitats: hollows, hillsides and forest clearings. In keeping with his fondness for Baudelaire's Fleurs du mal (Flowers of Evil), Gallé included the following lines from L'invitation au voyage in the bureau's maquetry: "All would speak
Secretly to the soul
In its sweet native tongue
br />The Lorraine Forest desk was one of the pieces presented by Gallé at the 1900 World Fair. Its provenance, date and quality of execution, all make it a remarkable example of Gallé's production as a cabinetmaker.

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