Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann


His first exhibition in the Autumn Salon in 1913 earned Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann the reputation of being the best cabinetmaker of his time. After the First World War, he founded the company Ruhlmann and Laurent, which produced the luxury furniture and objects he designed until his death in 1933. In his designs he was inspired by the great tradition of the 18th century. His work was characterized by elegance, the highest quality and technical sophistication. His exquisitely crafted furniture made of tulip wood, Amboyna, burr walnut, Macassar ebony and acacia with inlays of ivory and lacquer by Jean Dunand was so exquisite that many other companies had to fail in their first attempts to copy them.

Ruhlmann’s lamp designs were published together with his furniture designs in the book about Ruhlmann’s sketches published by Léon Moussinac in 1924. His lamps consist of alabaster, damask silk and crystal glass shades on precious marble, mosaic or silver-plated metal bases. Part of it could be admired in Ruhlmann’s Hôtel du Collectioneur at the International Exhibition of 1925 and on the ocean liners Atlantique and Ile de France, which were commissioned at the time by the companies Compagnie des Lamps, Siégel and Mildé. The logical, clear, but always sophisticated formal language was characteristic of Ruhlmann. In terms of the quality and workmanship of the materials, he can only be compared with the best artisans of the 18th century.

Ruhlmann has also worked on indirect lighting. For the dressing room of the actress Jacqueline Francell, which was exhibited at the Autumn Salon in 1929, he envisaged a round ceiling that could be indirectly lit by three cornices one above the other. He repeated this lighting principle at his exhibition stand at the Société des Artistes Décorateurs, using carefully coordinated, colored light.

Source: Alastair Duncan, Lampen Lüster Leuchter, Jugendstil Art Déco, Prestel-Verlag, München 1979, p.182-183

Picture: Guillaume Janneau, Le Luminaire, Art Deco Lampen 1925-1937, Arnold’sche Verlagsanstalt, 1992, p.123

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