Antique Louise Majorelle Furniture
Louise Majorelle (1859-1926) was the son of Auguste Majorelle, who made furniture in the 18th century French style at his firm, the Maison Majorelle in Nancy, France. Louise studied painting at the Academy des Beaux-Arts in Paris but the death of his father prompted him to return home in 1879, to manage the family business. Maison Majorelle furniture continued to make traditional furniture until the 1890’s, when Majorelle became inspired by the rising Art Nouveau movement in Europe. Majorelle was particularly intrigued by the sweeping nature motifs seen in the marquentry works by French furniture designer Emile Galle, which inspired Majorelle to began producing dramatic marquentry work himself. As a gifted ébéniste, or master of the art of elegant inlay, he was well prepared to produce the highest quality furniture in the Art Nouveau style. In 1900 Majorelle displayed the interior and the making process of one of his designs at the Exposition Universelle et Internationale de Paris.
Sometime before 1900 Majorelle works expanded beyond wooden furniture to include metalworking atelier to the workshops to make drawer pulls and mounts in harmony with the fluid lines of his woodwork and also produced art nouveau metal mounts for glass objects made by the Daum glass company. Majorelle's studio became responsible for making the ironwork, staircase and exterior details of many buildings in Nancy.
Tragically, a fire in 1916 burned the factories and all the designs and records of fifty years of production. WWI brought more destruction. In 1917, German aircraft bombed the Majorelle shop on the Rue Saint-Georges. The Majorelle shop in Lille was looted by advancing German troops. Majorelle relocated to Paris for the balance of the war where he worked in the shops of fellow furniture designers, where was introduced to the Art Deco style. Soon after reopening in Nancy, in the 1920s, Majorelle’s designs became simpler, as a reflection of the new Art déco stylistic trend. Louise Majorelle was widely respected for his talents and was asked to serve as a member of the jury for the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Moderns in Paris. The Maison Majorelle firm closed in 1956, which subsequently increased the value of any remaining Majorelle works available today, which are in demand from collectors around the world. Auction highlights include an antique bedroom set from 1905 which realized €1,162,600 at Christie’s, Paris on 29 March 2011! Most Majorelle furniture is branded with the artist’s signature, as seen on the cabinet above, which is a fine example of Majorelle pieces crafted in the Art Nouveau style.
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