“Mon amour de la botanique vous expliquera bien des choses dans ma production.”
(My love of botany will explain you many things in my production.)
-From a letter from Emile Gallé to the art critic Emil Hannover
The Art Nouveau decorative style flourished in Europe at the end of the nineteenth century. Emile Gallé (1846-1904), one of the key figures in this movement, is famed for his use of flowers, insects, and other natural motifs. Gallé was active in three fields, ceramics, glass, and furniture, and was honored with the Grand Prix at the Paris Exposition in 1889 and 1900. Through his use of depictions of nature to represent abstract concepts, his creations are, more than decorative glass or pieces of furniture, sublime works of art that express a philosophical worldview.
Underlying Gallé’s art was his passion for botany. In his garden, he employed expert gardeners to care for between 2,500 and 3,000 varieties of plants. Immersed in this wealth of natural beauty, he studied plants with meticulous care, paying close attention to their evolution and life cycles. In this exhibition, we display Gallé’s design sketches from the Musée d’Orsay collection, drawings that vividly express his direction to “Examine plants more closely!” With them, we display finished works by Gallé, creations that express the lifelong dedication of a man fascinated by plants to the close examination of their biology and symbolism.