Designer: Jacques Le Chevallier (French, 1896–1987)

Date: 1926–27

Medium: Aluminum, ebonite

Dimensions: 11 x 9 in. (27.9 x 22.9 cm)

Classification: Lighting

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, 2001

Accession Number: 2001.410ab

Rights and Reproduction: © 2016 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris


Although most prolific as an artist in stained glass, Le Chevallier is perhaps best known for the small number of modernist table lamps that he designed in the late 1920s. This model, the most extreme of the group, consists of an abstract, sculptural housing for the bulb resting atop a circular base raised on cylindrical legs. Starkly spare and completely unornamented, the overall effect of the lamp is of a functional machine. Nonetheless, a certain decorative quality is achieved through the Cubist-inspired angular planes, exposed screws and braces, and the softly reflective finish. No effort has been made to conceal the bulb or the socket, though the light can be shaded or redirected by revolving the lamp to a variety of different positions. Less reflective than silver or chrome-plated steel, aluminum was more affordable, increasing its appeal for designers.

Le Chevallier was a founding member of the Union des Artistes Modernes (UAM), an organization that promoted the forward-looking, reform-minded ideals of modernist design in France. Other members included architects and designers such as Pierre Chareau, René Herbst, Eileen Gray, Gabriel Guévrékian, Robert Mallet-Stevens, and Charlotte Perriand.