On View: Decorative Art, 20th-Century Decorative Arts, 4th Floor
By the time Pierre Legrain designed this stool in the 1920s, the idea of seating furniture as a status symbol had been replaced by the idea that comfort was paramount. In making a stool whose luxury and beauty surpassed its usefulness, Legrain looked back to older ways of thinking. His use of an African model, however, was new and reflected a growing fascination with the arts of Africa among sophisticated Europeans in the 1920s.
By turning a traditionally simple African form into a luxury object made of lacquered wood and covered with expensive sharkskin, Legrain reflected the cultural imperialism of his time, when Western artists and designers raided the artistic heritage of the world and remade objects from other cultures to accommodate consumers’ taste.
Wood, shagreen (likely ray skin), laquer, gilding
22 × 21 × 12 in. (55.9 × 53.3 × 30.5 cm) (show scale)
Purchased with funds given by an anonymous donor
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Pierre Legrain (French, 1889-1929). Stool (Tabouret), ca. 1923. Wood, shagreen (likely ray skin), laquer, gilding, 22 × 21 × 12 in. (55.9 × 53.3 × 30.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased with funds given by an anonymous donor, 73.142. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 73.142_threequarter_SL3.jpg)
threequarter, 73.142_threequarter_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Stool (tabouret), black lacquer and sharkskin over wood. U-shaped seat covered with sharkskin, supported by four polygonal columns lacquered black and a center column covered in sharkskin. Center column is narrow at center and flares toward top and bottom and rests on a flat square base covered with gold leaf. The outer lacquered columns are polygonal each with a flange beneath the seat. Rectangular base, tri-stepped on front and back and slopping at either end. Middle step covered with gold leaf base otherwise covered with black lacquer.
CONDITION - Good. All edges of parchment are worn.
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