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Émile Gallé "Aux Grenouilles" Umbrella Stand

French Art Nouveau marquetry "Aux Grenouilles" umbrella stand, by Emile Gallé. This stand for umbrellas and walking sticks incorporates frog (Grenouille) handles and feet in cast bronze, a decorative fillip that provides an otherwise utilitarian piece of furniture with a novel and charming appeal. The cabinet's feet are syntheses of the legs of a pickerel frog and the feet of a lion. While Galle's artistic antecedents created chimeric creatures of their own, their fabrication was more of a fantasy than a representation of reality. By the turn of the century, the rapidly developing field of microbiology had rendered the creation of chimeras a foreseeable event.

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  • Curator's Notes

Item #: F-21346
Artist: Émile Gallé
Country: France
Circa: 1900
Dimensions: 29.25" height, 21" width, 10" depth
Materials: Walnut, Oak, Maple, Rosewood, Patinated Bronze, Tin
Signed: Gallé in the marquetry
Literature: Similar "Aux Grenouilles" umbrella stand pictured in Gallé Furniture, by Alastair Duncan and Georges de Bartha, Antique Collectors' Club, Page 287, Plate 5.

The writings and discoveries of Louis Pasteur added an entirely new class of symbols to Galle's oeuvre. Galle wrote of Pasteur's discoveries "we can decipher, behind the chimeric anatomies, the realities that have become manifest, submitted, cataloged, grown in test tubes." In 1892, Galle honored Pasteur for his contributions to science with a vase. The vase is decorated with all manners of mythological creatures and microorganisms. In the umbrella stand's "Grenouilles" feet, the artist syncretizes the symbols of two different "currents." The morphology of the lion's paw offers the viewer a "peaceful stream of our predilections." The lion paw with its hallowed history calls to mind the conservative values of nobility and honor. By comparison, the hind legs of the pickerel frog originate from the "fast...deep…[and] powerful" current of modernity that offers symbols free from prescribed values. In the hands of Galle's genius, these symbols generate all manners of novel methods of furniture construction that are evident.