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Antiques Considered - December 5, 2012

A lady in Washington received this art glass vase from an employer many years ago.  The family who previously owned it was wealthy, and wanted to give the recipient a nice present.  It is in perfect condition, and on the bottom bears the signature of Gallé. This vase is the finest piece of art glass that has been submitted to “Antiques Considered” over the last 13 years.  The maker, Émile Gallé, was born in Nancy, France in 1846, and died there in 1904.  He was one of the founders of the Art Nouveau movement at the end of the nineteenth century, and remains renowned for his multi-talented approach to all things artistic.As a youth he had studied widely, before joining his father’s furniture business.  He learned the art of glassmaking, and began experimenting with different methods, before coming up with his own distinctive style.  He won awards at the Paris Expositions of 1878 and 1889, and became the recognized leader in the field of glass in the Art Nouveau era.  He also was a leading humanist, who supported many progressive ideals, and was one of the most forthright proponents of Alfred Dreyfus in the crisis that rocked France near the end of his life.

Gallé’s unique contribution came in the form of using acid etching to cut into glass, leaving brilliant scenes in high relief.  His technique cut into the glass in different levels of depth, giving a perception of great relief.  His works emerged as the dominant wares of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.  With others he founded the École de Nancy (the School of Nancy).  At one point his factory employed 300 workers.  It closed in 1936.

This vase is a spectacular example of his work, showing depth of cut, brilliant colors, and interesting shapes.  At a good auction it could bring upwards of $3,000.  The market for quality glass remains strong despite the financial woes of the larger economy.

Happy Antiquing!

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