La Belle Époch

French Art Nouveau Bronze Pen Tray with Floral Decoration (LEO Design)

Ahh, La Belle Époch. “The Beautiful Age.” It was a time of relative peace, economic expansion (for the middle and upper classes), empire (for Europeans and Americans) and wonderful design and craftsmanship. Roughly speaking, the period comprised the final quarter of the Nineteenth Century and the start of the Twentieth Century (until World War One began in 1914).  While I would never risk relocation to the Belle Epoch, I certainly think it was one of the highpoints in the decorative arts—and one of my favorites.

The French bronze pen try, shown above, is festooned with flowers and hand-tooled gadrooning.  It would have sat on someone’s desk to hold pens, clips or other small objects.  It would also be right-at-home at bedside or on a dressing table—a place to leave keys, rings, or hairpins.  Despite the bas relief floral spray, it would easily accommodate a collection of perfume bottles, protecting one’s wooden tabletops from the damaging liquids within.   


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