Set of 6 French Art Deco Chairs by Jules Leleu, 1920s
Set of 6 French Art Deco Chairs by Jules Leleu, 1920s

Jules-Emile Leleu was a French sculptor and designer. He was born in Boulognc-sur-Mer. 

Education

He studied at the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Boulogne-sur-Mer,under Théophile Deman; private academy, Brussels. The Ecole Jean Goujon, Paris, under Secame and Ecole des Arts Appliques, Paris. 

Biography

In 1901, Leleu, with brother Marcel, took on their father’s painting business and began working as an interior designer. After World War I, he established his interior design studio and furniture workshop in Paris. 

His furniture designs of the 1920s and 1930s were produced in his cabinetmaking workshops in Boulogne. He followed a pattern set by Süe et Mare and Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann in a classical, bulky, and lavish baroque Art Deco form. 

In the 1920s, his furniture designs were more delicate, with extensive use of exotic woods. In the 1930s, his lines and techniques became more simple, and he developed a modern style of his own. 

Jules Leleu low side/coffee table
Jules Leleu low side/coffee table
A circa 1940 amboyna and ebony bed with decorative poppy flower ivory inlay listed as In the “Manner of Jules Leleu,” France, circa 1940.
A circa 1940 amboyna and ebony bed with decorative poppy flower ivory inlay listed as In the “Manner of Jules Leleu,” France, circa 1940.

In 1924, he set up showrooms at 65 avenue Victor-Emmanuel-III (today avenue-Franklin-Roosevelt), Paris. His monumental style was particularly appropriate to commissions for official and semi-official decors, including numerous French embassies and civic and royal residences. 

He designed the decors of and supplied furniture for more than 20 ocean liners, including the lecture room on the 1926 Ile-de-France, interiors (with rugs by Ivan Da Silva Bruhns) 1931 Atlantique, first-class cabins on the 1935 Normandie. He used metal for the first time on the 1961 France.  

He designed the dining room of the Palais de l’Elysee in Paris in 1937 where his Modern furniture first appeared.

Jules Leleu set of chairs in white with brown trim
Jules Leleu set of chairs in white with brown trim

He executed decors in the League of Nations in Geneva and embassies in Japan. Brazil, Turkey, Poland, and the Netherlands. He often collaborated with artists and friends including metalworker Edgar Brandt, architect Andre Lunçat, and lacquerist Jean Dunand. After World War II, he continued the family business, designing interiors, furniture, carpets, fabrics, and lighting with son Andre and daughter Paule.

Exhibitions

From 1905. he showed sculpture at Salons of the Société des Artistes francais. In 1922, for the first time, he showed design work at Salon of the Société des Artistes français and subsequently at the Salons of the Societe des Artistes Decorateurs and the annual events of the Salon d’Automne and Salon des Tuileries. For the 1925 Paris ‘Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes,’ he made the chairs for the Grand Salon designed by Henri Rapin and Pierre Selmersheim and the music room by Sèzille.  

He designed and made a suite of living room furniture for his stand on the Esplanade des Invalides. His 1931 Hôtel Nord-Sud in Calvi, Corsica, was shown at 1932 ‘The International Style: Architecture Since 1922’ exhibition, New York Museum of Modem Art. 

Sources

Byars, M., & Riley, T. (2004). The design encyclopedia. Laurence King Publishing.

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