French Art Nouveau armchair, circa 1900, by Leon Benouville in sculpted mahogany. 23" wide x 25" deep x
35" high. Seat height: 18".
French Art Nouveau architect and designer, Leon Benouville, was born in Rome in 1860 into an art-loving family. His father was the painter Achille Benouville, a friend of Camille Corot. By 1884 he had completed his studies in France at the Ecole Centrale des Arts et Manufactures in Paris and was working as an architectural associate. He worked with his brother, Pierre, also an architect, in 1888 and won a silver medal at the International exhibition of 1889. From 1891 he exhibited at the Salon de la Societe Nationale des Beaux Arts. He studied the monuments of the Middle Ages and was also influenced by his own thorough study of Gothic art. And in 1900 he won a gold medal and a silver medal at the Exposition Universelle in Paris where his participation ranged from the design for Ancient Paris to fittings of stained-glass windows, to fittings of leather and hides. In 1901 he exhibited furniture including a bedroom and a glass-works cabinet. His exceptional Art Nouveau designs are alive with exuberant whiplashes and curves, stylized marquetry, hand-hammered brass fittings. By 1903 he had turned his attention to the design of furniture for working class residences. Benouville died in 1903 at the age of just 43.