Louis Majorelle 1859–1926

Louis Majorelle was one of the foremost designers and fabricators of the Art Noveau movement. Majorelle was born in the eastern French town of Toul in 1859; his father was also a furniture maker. In 1861, the senior Majorelle moved his family from Toul to Nancy and there established the family company with a factory designed by the architect Lucien Weissenburger. The young Majorelle moved to Paris to study painting at the École de Beaux-Arts in 1877, where he worked with Jean-François Millet. Upon the death of his father in 1879, Majorelle returned to Nancy to manage the family business.

At first, Majorelle first set out in his father’s footsteps by continuing to craft 18th century reproduction furniture. By 1890, however, he had begun to experiment with producing Art Nouveau designs that often incorporated fluid floral forms as well as metalwork and highly polished wood surfaces. Majorelle’s opulent designs were received with fanfare at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair. Not long after, he co-founded the École de Nancy, a group of artists and designers centered in Lorraine that was dedicated to creating and exhibiting the highest quality of Art Nouveau design. By 1910, the Majorelle firm was operating from workshops in Paris, Lyon, and Lille, in addition to the Nancy flagship.

World War I cast a major blow to Majorelle’s enterprise. In 1916, a fire (ostensibly unrelated to the war) destroyed most of his Nancy factories, while German bombing and looting ruined both the Nancy and Lille shops. When the war was over, Majorelle reopened his factory and shop, producing designs that began to evidence the onset of Art Deco. Majorelle passed away in his native Nancy in 1926, and is today heralded as a stalwart of turn-of-the-century Art Nouveau.

Auction Results Louis Majorelle