The antique marquetry furniture of Louis Majorelle was one of many delights in a fascinating new BBC4 series.
The three part series, which began on 28th March, was presented by Stephen Smith, who examined the decadence, glamour and controversy of the short-lived Parisian Art Nouveau movement, which flourished in the late 19th and early 20th century. Art Nouveau fell out of favour with the Bohemian elite in the early 20th century, but today Paris is as much in love with the extravagantly curly antique cabinets and wrought ironwork of Eugene Vallin and Hector Guimard as it ever was.
In areas like the Ribble Valley, Victorian dining chairs and antique desks are attractive, functional pieces of furniture, devoid of the organic and sometimes sinister lines of the French Art Nouveau style. Stephen Smith explained how this deliciously lush and overtly decorative trend sprang from fin-de-siecle artisans like the poet Baudelaire and the artist Alphonse Mucha, famous for his sensual posters of Sarah Bernhardt. The natural beauty of Renee Lalique’s jewellery was also examined, with visits to iconic locations like Maxim’s restaurant and the Petit Palace, home of the 1900 World Fair and a showcase for Art Nouveau furniture.
During the programme, viewers in Lancashire could see how the antique marquetry furniture of Louis Majorelle and Emile Galle morphed into more extreme forms as time went on, until the dark creations of designers like Hector Guimard and Eugene Vallin became too much for modern tastes. Antique dealers in Lancashire sometimes have antique dining tables and antique desks in the French Art Nouveau style, if the programme inspired you.
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