Edouard Lièvre (1828-1886). Cabinet on stand, c. 1880. Rosewood, gilt bronze, Japanese lacquer panel with tortoiseshell and bone inlays. Private collection.

Olivier Hurstel will deliver a Françoise and Georges Selz Lecture on Eighteenth- and Nineteenth-Century French Decorative Arts and Culture on Tuesday, November 14, at 6 pm. His talk is entitled “Rediscovering Édouard Lièvre (1828–1886): A Designer and His Legacy.”

Edouard Lièvre (1828–1886) is considered one of the most important European designers of furniture and decorative arts of the second half of the nineteenth century. His work, forgotten for quite some time, stands out for its originality, creativity, modernity, virtuosity, and mastery of execution. Having begun as a draftsman and illustrator, Lièvre proceeded to work as a painter, editor of art books, collector, creator of furniture bronzes, and designer of wallpapers, fabrics, and luxury furniture that made him famous. His varied career, though singular, is also representative of how one became a designer in the nineteenth century and how one earned a place in the historical record. If not for a series of unfortunate events—an early death and the fact that the V&A declined to buy his beloved collections of furniture and models— Lièvre’s name would have been well established, and he would have been considered a French equivalent of William Morris. In this talk, Hurstel will retrace the history of his rediscovery of Lièvre’s work, outlining the main axes of Lièvre’s career and eclectic production (neo-Renaissance, Persian style, Japonisme), his clientele (which included the most famous names of the time, among them the Camondo brothers, Edouard André, and Charles Ephrussi), and his influence on the late nineteenth-century Parisian furniture industry.

Olivier Hurstel is Curatorial Fellow of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. A museum professional and scholar of European furniture and decorative arts, he spent the last fifteen years working for the art market as a European decorative arts specialist. Hurstel started his career during his studies at the Ecole du Louvre, when he joined a Parisian gallery as a researcher for decorative arts of the second half of the nineteenth century. This field, at the time still largely unexplored, quickly became his specialty and passion. Since then he has worked for international galleries specializing in European decorative arts from the late sixteenth through the nineteenth centuries. Widely known for his scholarly approach, Hurstel has curated several exhibitions and written the accompanying catalogues, and is regularly consulted by leading museums and institutions. Having recently published a series of articles on the French enameller Charles Lepec (1830–1890) in the Metropolitan Museum Journal (2016) and in the Decorative Art Society Journal (forthcoming), he is also pursuing his research on Edouard Lièvre.