Posted 3 years ago
About 30 years ago, I came across a copy of Philippe Garner's excellent English language book on Emilé Gallé in a used book store. That was when I first became aware of a (very) distant relative who lived and worked in France in the 19th and early 20th century, making incredible objects in glass and wood that defied imagination. This was a long time before I started collecting art glass - but even then, I thought that it would be great if I could just own one Emilé Gallé vase, or even a stick of furniture signed by his firm. I have been able to acquire a few small pieces of glass over the years. But when I got an opportunity to buy this small end table this past weekend for a (barely) affordable price, I had to jump on it.
This smallish table is one of a set of nesting tables. It is the smallest of the set, but I am happy to have just the one. The top is done in wood inlays made with several different types of wood, creating a scene of nuns rowing a boat in a lake with a bird (gull) flying overhead. The way the scene incorporates the wood grain to imply ripples in the water, and a horizon in the distance, is pure genius. It is signed in wood inlay on the bottom right: Gallé. It is said that Gallé had at one point over 600 different types of wood in his inventory, so he could create any combination of colors and textures in his marquetry pieces. As they go, this little table is fairly humble. Some of Gallé's larger works (beds, armoires, dining room furniture, etc, also incorporate art nouveau carving, and are downright spectacular. But I am very happy to have my little table. Enjoy!