Art Deco Jules Leleu Art Deco Mahogany and Brass Buffet, France circa 1940
Art Deco Jules Leleu Art Deco Mahogany and Brass Buffet, France c.1940. The highly decorative appearance of this buffet with its use of figured timber, harlequin pattern and brass accents was inspired by the elegant designs of Jules Leleu (1883-1961). Leleu exhibited at the famous "Expostions Industrielles et Arts Decoratifs" in Paris in 1925 and was awarded a grand prize. This international fair showcased designs that were totally new in both their use of form and material in combinations both imaginative and functional. This particular buffet showcases the varied appearance of mahogany by utilizing its different grains including straight lined, plum pudding effect and the manner in which it captures light when laid in a harlequin pattern where the individual diamond panes are laid in opposition shifting from a lighter to a darker value. The use of a curved façade also succeeds in shifting the visual appearance of the timber and adds to the overall richly detailed impact. The center door is highlighted by the harlequin pattern made famous centuries ago in Italy and France as a decorative pattern. The center door is almost square in size and is flanked by slender rectangular cabinet doors set with mahogany that has a pattern known as "plum pudding" because it appears to be studded with raisins as in a specific type of pudding dessert. All three of these doors are slightly recessed and framed by a brass trim detail that accentuates their central placement in the overall piece. The left and right doors actually have a curved profile (please see the photograph taken from above) serving to capture light and reflect the colour in a different manner depending upon where the cabinet is viewed. That is why there appear to be different colours in the photographs, all because of the reflected light. The center left cabinet door opens to reveal a series of drawers for individualized storage while th eother cabinet doors when open reveal shelves that may be adjusted to suit the objects stored within. Each cabinet retains the original brass escutcheons (lock plates) to guide the key through the door to engage the lock. The clean rectangular lines of this hardware echo the simplicity of the design and provide visual continuity. The cabinet stands upon a unique base supported by four individual legs each placed at a slight angle leading away from the piece. All four legs are joined by a lovely undulating apron with a sense of gentle movement. To draw the eye to the apron the design includes a brass overlay placed directly in the centre and directly beneath the centre of the cabinet doors. Again the emphasis is on symmetry and balance in the overall appearance of the buffet. Please notice how each leg ends in a brass cap known as a "sabot" after the wooden shoe popular in the region of Brittany. This "sabot" serves a functional purpose as it protects the leg from randoms kicks and hits as the surrounding floor is cleaned and a decorative purpose as each "sabot" gleams in the available light. The top surface of the buffet is also distinguished by the use of an elevated platform set slightly back from the edge. Here the use of two different colours of timber accentuates the level change and adds to the overall composition of the cabinet. The use of the curved elements in concert became known as "moderne" in the 1940's and 1950's and is most often seen in buffets and low cabinets such as this example.
WIDTH: 88 in | HEIGHT: 38 in | DEPTH: 21 in
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