Eugène Gaillard (1862-1933)
Paris, c. 1913
Padauk wood base, table tops veneered with Madagascan rosewood
H. 71 cm; Diam. 70 cm
© Les Arts Décoratifs
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This pedestal table with a quatrefoil top, standing on a central column with four radiating legs, features four small triangular tables with angular bases that slide under the principal table top. The four tables can be placed at a greater or lesser distance from the central column; the various uprights interconnect to form a particularly elegant geometric pattern thanks to the slightly curved supports of the base. This table, which was presented at the Salon of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1913 (toward the end of Eugène Gaillard’s career), illustrates a certain evolution in his treatment of wood. The early twentieth-century cabinetmaker-sculptor, who enveloped his furniture designs with swollen, sensual organic forms, gradually became a purist who used a minimum of material, using it almost geometrically to give maximum force to the vertical lines supporting the table top, decorated with the natural patterns of the rosewood. A lawyer by training, Eugène Gaillard was the first designer employed in Siegfried Bing’s Art Nouveau gallery in 1897. Together with Édouard Colonna, then Georges de Feure, he contributed to the decoration of Bing’s Art Nouveau pavilion at the Paris World’s Fair of 1900. Gaillard designed the decoration of the entrance hall, dining room (part of which is now in the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbe in Hamburg) and bedroom. From 1902 on, he exhibited under his own name at the Salons of the Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts and the Société des Artistes Décorateurs. Between 1902 and 1914, he produced simple, elegant designs that met the goal he set himself in his book À propos du mobilier (On Furniture), published in 1906: “To put an undeniable characteristic of art into even the most humble object, even an everyday piece of furniture, [and] to provide beautiful prototypes of all kinds for the ‘art’ industries.”
Gabriel P. Weisberg, Edwin Becker and Évelyne Possémé (under the direction of), Les Origines de l’Art Nouveau. La maison Bing, Amsterdam, Van Gogh Museum, Paris, Les Arts Décoratifs, Antwerp, Fonds Mercator, 2004.