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June 18 Art Minute: Louis Majorelle, Pair of Gates

Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo Art Museum, Toledo Museum, art, artminute, art of the week
Louis Majorelle (French, 1859–1926), Pair of Gates. Wrought iron and copper, 1906. Each: W. 59 1/8 in. (150.2 cm). Mr. and Mrs. George Jones, Jr., Fund, 1997.302a–b. Gallery 35

Louis Majorelle had established his reputation as the preeminent French furniture-maker at the Exposition Universelle of 1900 in Paris. The artists whose work was featured in that exhibition established Art Nouveau (“new art”) as a significant new force in design and architecture.

Reacting against the predominant classical style, Art Nouveau drew much of its inspiration from nature, especially local flora and fauna. The Museum’s wrought-iron gates incorporate a plant native to eastern France, satinpod, or annual honesty (Lunaria annua). While attenuated wrought-iron tendrils form the framework, silvery seed pods in copper and tin add shimmering accents. These gates were displayed at the Salon des Artistes Décorateurs (also called the Salon d’Automne) in 1906.

This work is currently on view in Gallery 35.