Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann (French, 1879–1933)
Macassar ebony, amaranth, ivory
H. 50 1/4 in. (127.6 cm), W. 33 1/4 in. (84.5 cm), D. 14 in. (35.6 cm)
Purchase, Edward C. Moore Jr. Gift, 1925 (25.231.1)
Perhaps the most renowned French designer of his day, Émile-Jacques Ruhlmann is considered the primary exponent of high-style French taste following World War I. Aesthetic refinement, sumptuous materials, and impeccable construction techniques place his work on a par with the finest eighteenth-century furniture—a formal and ornamental source for many of his designs.
This cabinet was specially commissioned from Ruhlmann by the Metropolitan in 1925, and is a variant of a similar cabinet shown at the Paris Exposition that was purchased by the French state, hence the model name État (State). Ruhlmann sometimes produced more than one example of his furniture models, varying the details of form and surface decoration according to the requirements of a commission. The complex pattern of the marquetry decoration (created from interlocking pieces of wood and ivory veneer) is reminiscent of a jigsaw puzzle.