Émile Gallé, the great organiser
On 01 April 2018, by Caroline Legrand
This auction of furniture from a Norman château attests to Émile Gallé's ability to create furniture with all its decorative features, like future designers.
Émile Gallé (1846-1904), "Snowdrop Lamp", tree-shaped wrought iron structure, lampshade with a three-petal snowdrop motif in heat-applied and shaped white and green glass, height: 71.5 cm, lampshade diameter: 16.5 cm. Signed.
After remaining together for over a century, the bedroom furniture set designed by Émile Gallé is now scattered. His friend, art critic Roger Marx, dubbed him "homo triplex": indeed, the Nancy master was a ceramicist, glass artist and cabinetmaker, not to mention a decorator and manufacturer. This auction of furniture from a Norman château attests to his ability to create furniture with all its decorative features, like future designers. Gallé and his client, Henri Gaston de Bousquet de Florian (1866-1944), exchanged several letters. A magistrate, Bousquet de Florian had discovered Gallé’s work during the famous Nancy School exhibition at the Marsan pavilion in Paris organised by the Union Centrale des Arts Décoratifs in March 1903. For his wedding, he decided to refurnish his bedroom in Avignon, which was later moved to Normandy and kept by his descendants until today. Bousquet de Florian had already been taken by the bed with "umbellifers and wetland irises", today estimated between €25,000 and €30,000, but Gallé suggested a vanity mirror and night tables based on the same model. A shrewd businessman, he also offered "electric lamps, free-standing or hanging from the ceiling, for reading in bed, if necessary". Aware of the aesthetic potential of coloured glass, in 1902, he launched a new product range, and his client indulged in an elegant snowdrop-shaped lamp (€15,000/20,000, see photo) and a pair of sconces in high-gloss cased glass with Abutilon decor and gilded metal branches (€4,000/6,000). The 20 pieces of furniture, glassware and decorative objects in this auction, symbols of Gallé’s wide-ranging talent, were amongst those he eventually delivered.