This sellette (tall piece of furniture made for exhibiting a plant or another object, such as a decorative vase) is from the end of the 19th century. It has two levels of carved wood, each with 3 legs. The bottom level has smooth, curved legs ending in a spiral. On the second level, the legs are shaped like elephant trumps and similarly curved. The elephant's heads are expertly carved, and their white tusks stand out against the deep tones of the wood.
This exotic piece of furniture is linked to Japonism , an artistic movement derived from the influence of Japanese art on Western art during the second half of the 19th century. Painters such as Manet, Degas, Gauguin, and Mary Cassatt were inspired by this movement, as well as architects, and art object creators. As of 1851, the World Fairs contributed to the spread of Japonism in the Western world. This style led to some very colorful works of art and decorations of flowers, birds, dragons, and other animals, like the elephants on this sellette.
This piece is attributed to Louis Majorelle (1859-1926), a cabinetmaker from Lorraine. After taking over his father's workshop in 1879, he reproduced 18th-century styles. At the end of the 19th century, he was inspired by Art Nouveau and developed his own personal style. In the 1900's, he became an interior decorator and produced Art Deco furnishings.