In addition to my lengthy visit with Catching Sight, the sporting prints exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, I had time to wallow in the Sidney and Francis Lewis galleries. Among other glories, these house what the New York Times describes as “the most important collection of Art Nouveau outside Paris.”
The collection, of which I now have several hundred pictures, includes jewelry, furniture, household utensils, ceramics, lamps, and stained glass. Since I’m not an art historian, I’ll not attempt to explain Art Nouveau, its origins and philosophy, but refer you to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Wikipedia entries on the subject, and take you directly to this showstopper of a bedroom set by Louis Marjorelle.
The set, made about 1905-1908, is of mahogany, rosewood, marquetry of woods, bronze, gilding, and upholstery.
“The suite, among the most important Art Nouveau furniture in the United States, was illustrated in a 1909 French magazine and originally on view at the 1909 International Exhibition of Eastern France in Nancy. As in a contemporary furniture showroom, a patron at Majorelle’s gallery would select individual objects such as a bed, cabinet, or chair from the showroom floor or an illustrated catalog.”
The gilded bronze water lilies appear in much of Majorelle's furniture, as seen in a similar bed at the Musée d’Orsay.