Musée d'Orsay: Louis Majorelle Occasional table

Louis Majorelle
Occasional table

Occasional table
Louis Majorelle (1859-1926)
Occasional table
Circa 1898
Carved and moulded walnut, various wood inlay
H. 76.5; W. 120; W. 70 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Jean-Gilles Berizzi

Occasional table
Occasional table (detail)

Table de salon [Occasional table]

Under the influence of Emil Gallé, Louis Marjorelle started, in the mid-1890s, to produce "contemporary furniture decorated with natural motifs", as Gallé himself put it. But he quickly developed an instantly recognisable, highly personal style. In fact he opted for greater abstraction in the design of the inlay and the modelling of the carved parts.

This table perfectly illustrates the way Majorelle set himself apart from his elder. Gallé's influence is there in the important part given to inlay and the carved floral motifs at the top of the legs. However the design is obviously highly stylised. The chestnut leaves and husks are treated in a sweeping vigorous manner which aims for decorative effect rather than an evocation of foliage.

This ornate model is the only known piece of its kind. A simplified version was later designed, obviously less expensive to produce. The tabletop lost its gentle, carefully studied curves to become a stricter rectangle, the chestnuts vanished, leaving only the leaves with no hint of texture or veins.

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