About this artwork
The innovative marquetry technique displayed on this work table, was patented in 1877 by Rosalie Duvinage, also called Veuve (Widow) Duvinage. She was the owner of Maison Giroux, a Paris firm that had produced a wide assortment of luxury goods for generations. In this mosaic technique, pieces of ivory were held fast within a matrix of engraved metal strips and different woods were inlaid to create complex patterns. Here the ivory ground is separated by a network of engraved brass and pewter that forms the branches and leaves of a flowering peony bush, within which rests a large pheasant. Different wood inlays reveal the contour and shading of both plant and bird.
The decoration of this table was inspired by the flood of imports coming from Asia, especially from China and Japan, to Europe in the second half of the 19th century. Images of flowers and animals that were originally Chinese were adapted by Japanese craftsmen for furniture and finally translated onto objects in Europe. The artists of Maison Giroux appear to have had a firm grasp on the symbolic language of Asia: according to custom, tree peonies represent the male principle yang, and the golden pheasant (a traditional symbol of feminine beauty) symbolizes yin, its natural complement.
- Maison Alphonse Giroux
- Work Table
- Rosewood, ivory, gilt bronze, brass, and pewter
- 71 × 68.5 × 40.6 cm (28 × 27 × 16 in.)
- Gift of the Antiquarian Society