Emile Gallé (1846-1904)
Medal cabinet The Primroses, 1900
86 x 110 x 50 cm
Paris, Musée des arts décoratifs
Photo : Ader
31/3/09 – Acquisition – Paris, Musée des arts décoratifs – Last 20 March, the estate of Jean Bourgogne, Emile Gallé’s grand-son, was dispersed at auction by Maître Ader at the Hôtel Drouot. About sixty lots with a direct provenance from the collection of the great Art Nouveau creator were on offer, including furniture and glass, for an overall estimate of 400,000 euros. The Musée des arts décoratifs in Paris pre-empted one of the most beautiful pieces at the auction a medal cabinet, The Primroses, for the sum of 25,500 euros (without charges), a very reasonable price which fell far below that of the lower estimate (40,000/60,000). First presented at the Exposition universelle de Paris in 1900, then exhibited during the Gallé retrospective in Paris at the Musée du Luxembourg in 1985, this furniture piece is in fact more remarkable for its inlaid work, the iron fittings and the bronze handles than for its general lines, closer to a rather strict Japanese interpretation than a purely “Art Nouveau” style. However, we can only commend this acquisition by the Musée des arts décoratifs under such favorable circumstances.