Art Kaleidoscope

Between art and craft

Art Nouveau Glass maker Emile Galle

Vase by Art Nouveau Glass maker Emile Galle

Black Vase by Art Nouveau Glass maker Emile Galle

Art Nouveau Glass maker Emile Galle
Born in Nancy, France, in 1846 Emile Galle was a leading initiator of the Art Nouveau style and the modern renaissance of French glass art. Emile Galle has developed a special technique of making decorative vases made of laminated glass, which came to be called by his name – “Galle”. Galle – a unique personality, extremely talented and educated man, who gave his name to a direction in the development of arts and crafts. Emile Galle was both scientist and botanist, chemist, writer, artist and philosopher. In the mid-seventies of the XIX century Emile Galle led the family company of parents, producing mirrors, glass and ceramics. World fame came to Emile Galle for his famous style of unmatched vases. Galle Glass for over one and a half centuries, enjoys extraordinary popularity not only among art connoisseurs, but also lovers of fine interiors and comfort.

Emile Galle Art Nouveau style vase

Blue vase, underwater fish. Emile Galle Art Nouveau style vase

Emile Galle (1846-1904) first presented his work to the public at the Paris World Exhibition in 1878. As head of the family factory of ceramics and glass near Nancy (Lorraine, France), Galle experimented a lot with materials and improved already known methods of glass work. Thus, with the inclusion of cobalt oxide in glass appeared clair-de-lune or “moonlight”, and, for example, through the use of foil in the hot glass mass created cracks and bubbles, forming a unique texture of the glass – “glass marquetry.” The material itself, thanks to its pliability, allowed the artist to express himself in the smooth contours and whimsical design. Opening to the public new artistic possibilities of glass, Galle was able to realize the basic aesthetic views of the Art Nouveau style – the desire for unity of the synthesis of the arts and utilitarian and artistic principles.

The rapid development of glass art in the second half of the XIX century, all closely linked to the spread of Art Nouveau in Europe and the United States. Or Art Nouveau style in 1900 in France, Belgium and the United States, jugendstil in Germany, seccession in Austria and “Art Nouveau” in Russia advocated the revival of traditional crafts raising it to a high level of “art.”

For aesthetic and stylistic ideals of Art Nouveau glass making has been extremely receptive. For the first time in the late nineteenth century artists glassblowers gained international fame, and their names have become symbols of Art Nouveau. Their work played a significant role in shaping the style of modernity not only in the art of glass-making, but also in furniture, metal, porcelain and other kinds of arts and crafts. They have the arsenal of means of artistic expression, both new and forgotten, but revived methods and techniques of glass processing.

The main motifs of the decorative style of Galle were endless – floral designs and landscapes of his native places, orchids, thistles, ferns. Plants are intertwined and create a refined decor, blend in the simple form of glass vases, lamps and other products. In the manufacture of interior with floral motifs Emile Galle reached the highest levels thanks in part to the knowledge of botany and natural history, as well as the study of oriental glass and porcelain in London. Art of Japan and China, his desire to uncover the essence of a particular object or a natural phenomenon has had a strong impact not only on the work of Galle, but also on the development of Art Nouveau in general.

Special mention deserve so-called “talking” glass and furniture by Emile Galle in 1880 – items decorated with verses from the poems of Francois Villon, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine. Galle personally produced each item in this series, without repeating quotations. Today, these products are categorized by experts as unique works of Galle authorship. Unique items made by master himself decorate the best museums in the world.

The value of the figure of Emile Galle for the development of glass making in particular, and the Art Nouveau style in general, is difficult to overestimate. He founded a workshop in Nancy, France presented a galaxy of fine artists, glassblowers. Among them – Jean and Antonin Daum, who later founded their factory “Daum”. At the heart of the factory products lay the aesthetics and techniques of the great teacher.

Glass factory and workshop of Emile Galle functioned until 1931. Today the name of the artist has become synonymous with the whole cultural and artistic concept of “glass of Emile Galle.”

Art Nouveau Glass maker Emile Galle