Louis Majorelle               

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Louis Majorelle à sa table de dessin.

 Louis Majorelle at his drawing table. 


Family, childhood and early artistic life. 

Etiquette Louis MajorelleLouis Majorelle is a french cabinetmaker and decorator, born in Toul in 1859. His father, Auguste Majorelle is already a well known artist. First specialized into decoration on pieces of earthenware, he was taught by Keller and Guérin, at the former Manufacture Royale. Then, ambitious, he collaborated with other potters from Lorraine before settling in Toul and taking an interest into cabinetmaking and becoming as it is written into his wedding contract, "painter, decorator of pieces of furniture and earthenware"Pendule Louis Majorelle Luneville. He then starts to design pieces of furnitures and ornates them with Japanese decorations and lacquering them, according to the fashion of the time. The Majorelle style, which inspired Louis Majorelle several years later was born and the Maison knew great success.
When Louis was born, the Majorelle settle in Nancy, which is a booming city at the time. Louis grows up with his seven brothers and sisters at the first floor of the family's appartment Rue des Dominicains, ground floor being Majorelle's shop.

The legend says that Louis Majorelle would have made his first piece of earthenware at the age of eleven and that, edited by his father, it had a great success. However, Louis dream is to be a painter and he goes to the Nancy School of Drawing where he is teached by Théodore Devilly and the sculptor Charles Pêtre. Aged seventeen, Louis goes on with his study at the prestigious Paris School of the Beaux-Arts, which gave him the opportunity of meeting such artists as sculptor Aimé Millet and Alexandre Charpentier or the architect and decorator Henri Sauvage. He will collaborate with them on several occasions. Ateliers Majorelle à Nancy
The death of the father is a major event into Louis Majorelle's life, in 1879, which precipitated things. His mother who ran the shop while Auguste Majorelle was too ill to take care of it, decided to repatriate her son  in Nancy and made him partner up with his youngest brother Jules in order to run the thriving shop their father had left behind. Workshops had at the time more than twenty employees and three main domains of work : ceramic, wood work and style copying. After a few successful years, Louis, searching for expansion, decided to leave for Paris and bought in 1904 Samuel Bing's gallery.


Luminaire Daum et MajorelleMajorelle, his success, his art.Bureau Nénuphar

Louis Majorelle did master perfectly well the old shapes and designs and certainly had the creative spirit necessary for evolving in a time when artists were copying and mixing styles more than they were inventing at all, especially in the domain of decorative arts. Louis Majorelle is in favor of the alliance between art and industry, like his former professor Emile Gallé. Others workshops in nancy were using this concept like Daum's. Majorelle's workshops hence specialized into the manufacturing of quality furniture mass producted.This reduced the cost of fabrication but also the price itself, contributing to an "Art for All". Since middle class too became one of Majorelle's client, a lot of orders were running late, proving that Majorelle was overwhelmed by success. Louis was always searching for the beauty of the lines in an unculttered setting. The ideal for Majorelle was making people forget about straight lines, he put movement in the center of his concerns which anchors the artist into the Art Nouveau movement. Some people even talk about "Majorellism".

He always managed to leave his mark, evolve and be where nobody expected him to be. Majorelle became famous mostly thanks to Japonism, which is a concept first defined by art critic Philippe Burty in 1878. Lacquer and relief are put together in harmony with japanese decorations and earthenware inlayings. Majorelle managed to give satisfaction to clients fond of the East.
Even if he was gifted with a huge talent, Majorelle owes his success to his involvement into numerous Salons and World Fairs. He first exhibited in Amsterdam, in 1883 where he was noticed by the Royal Court of Holland which ordered him about 40 000 francs of furniture. He also took part into the 1889 and 1900 World Fairs where he left a mark with his Waterlilly Study. He also exhibited at the French Artists Salon, the Furniture and Industry Salon, the Society of Decorator Artists and many othgers artistic events.

Villa JikaLouis Majorelle's collaborations with his contemporaries did contribute to the "Majorelle Phenomenon".Lampe Cactus Frères Daum Majorelle 

We can talk about Henri Sauvage, whit whom he built his own house, the very famous Villa Jika, and many other projects. There is also Alexandre Charpentier with whom he designed many pieces of furniture, and Camille Gauthier working in the furniture department. Then when Majorelle decided to open a department exclusively devoted to metal, he decided to recruit the talented Daum Brothers with whom he made wonderful luminaries.

Majorelle remained a workaholic until his last days and he died on January 15th 1926 carrying many of his ideas with him. This artist, wearing many masks left his mark on the artistic production of the end of the XIXth century. He succeeded in noticing the numerous change of the time : industrialisation, apparition of new social classes and mindsets changes and he managed to define his style without stopping his evolution.

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