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Object Timeline

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1925

  • Work on this object began.

1931

  • We acquired this object.

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Textile, Le Feu (Fire), 1925

This is a Textile. It is dated 1925 and we acquired it in 1931. Its medium is warp: silk weft: tussah silk and its technique is compound satin weave. It is a part of the Textiles department.

This fabric, with its rhythmic pattern of meandering flames and smoke, is one in a series of four woven fabrics which together represent the four basic elements of nature: earth, water, air and fire. The Four Elements was a popular theme throughout the history of decorative arts, but this textile reveals another motif that may be less familiar - the salamander.

The brave little salamanders woven into this design face the fierce flames and billowing smoke plumes head on. For centuries in France, the salamander was associated with courage and thriving. The allegorical motif was especially important to King Francis 1, who reigned from 1515 to 1547.

This fabric was designed by Yvonne Clarinval and manufactured by Tassinari & Chatel in Lyon specifically for the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs. Clarinval’s use of the nationalistic amphibian recalls the decorative schemes of King Francis’s châteaux at Fontainebleau and Chambord, and would have conjured up memories of the grandeur and power of French tradition, an important theme at the 1925 exposition.

This object was featured in our Object of the Day series in a post titled An Unexpected Creature Fuels the Flames of Tradition.

This object was donated by Unknown. It is credited Gift of Anonymous Donor.

Its dimensions are

H x W: 201.9 x 128 cm (6 ft. 7 1/2 in. x 50 3/8 in.)

Cite this object as

Textile, Le Feu (Fire), 1925; France; warp: silk weft: tussah silk; H x W: 201.9 x 128 cm (6 ft. 7 1/2 in. x 50 3/8 in.); Gift of Anonymous Donor; 1931-1-14

We have 1 media file that features Textile, Le Feu (Fire), 1925.

"Maple Leaf Rag," Sidney Bechet and his New Orleans Feetwarmers (1932)

New Orleans clarinetist and soprano saxophonist Sidney Bechet was one of the first and most prominent American jazz musicians to tour Europe. He first played in London with William Marion Cook and...

This object was previously on display as a part of the exhibition The Jazz Age: American Style in the 1920s.

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18317807/ |title=Textile, Le Feu (Fire), 1925 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=21 November 2018 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>