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LOUIS MAJORELLE (1859-1926)

The sudden death of his father Auguste (1825-1879), a practitioner of the arts of leather, clay and wood, interrupted his studies at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Known mainly as a cabinetmaker, he was also a decorator, locksmith, bronze-maker, master glassmaker,...

With Emile Gallé, he participated in the creation of the Ecole de Nancy in 1901. As much a personification of Art Nouveau as Gallé, he stands out from his predecessor. Indeed, he wants above all to be a cabinetmaker and gives all his importance to the forms he develops, which come from the plant world. Also, the use of bronze magnifies its decorations, always discreetly arranged. On the strength of his success, he participated in the 1900 Universal Exhibition and triumphed there. Moreover, the increased demand for his pieces forced him to create series furniture, i.e. up to twenty pieces for certain models. 

After the war, Art Nouveau being definitively outmoded, it adapted to the evolution of taste and the Art Deco style, then in full expansion. He participated occasionally in the various Salons as well as in the International Exhibition of Industrial and Modern Decorative Arts, which took place in 1925. Thus, it remains faithful to dark and noble woods such as Macassar ebony, and reduces its inlays to simple ivory fillets. Massive and angular, its furniture is in line with the trend of the time. 

After his death in 1926, retrospetives of his work were organized, by the Salon d'Automne in 1926, and by the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs in 1927. The company continues its activity under the direction of Alfred Lévy. Rather austere, the furniture produced at that time was characterized by straight shapes, flat surfaces and dark woods, without decoration. In this respect, some of his models are similar to those of Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann. After the Second World War, the firm was mainly satisfied with reproducing the most popular furniture, before disappearing in 1956.