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Gallé, Emile GALLE biography by senses-artnouveau.com



French glass maker, ceramist and designer

Born in Nancy, France, in 1846, Emile Gallé is considered one of the most outstanding glass artists of his time, as he greatly contributed to the development of the art of glassmaking and to the Art Nouveau Style. He traveled in Paris, London and Weimar after his training, which included art, botany, and chemistry, and began producing fine pottery, furniture and jewelry. In 1873 he set up his own glass studio and a year later he took over his father's glass and ceramics factory in Nancy. At the 1878 International Exhibition in Paris he was inspired by the glass works of some of his contemporaries. At the Paris International Exhibition in 1889, he presented his own new types of glass, including carved cameo and pate de verre work, new shapes of vases and extraordinary new colors. In 1901, he founded "L'Ecole de Nancy".

Throughout the 1890's in his "Cristallerie d'Emile Gallé", he created abundant new glassworks and therefore employed a team of craftsmen-designers, who worked on his designs and applied his signature after his approval. In those years, he also exhibited his Art Nouveau works with great success, thus winning international awards, recognition through commissions and increased popular demand. After his death in 1904, his widow continued to run the glassworks until the outbreak of war in 1914, all the glass sold being marked with a star after his signature. The Gallé glassware, mainly made by acid etching on two and three layer cameo glass with landscape and floral designs, continued to be made until 1935, when the firm closed down.

The works of Emile Gallé had a major influence on the Art Nouveau movement. Clear and enameled or stratified, applied, engraved, acid etched or wheel-carved, his glass was very elaborate. Nature inspired his designs, which were mostly floral, some with foliage, or landscape decorations and some with a strong Japanese feeling. He developed a technique for the production of cut and incised flashed glass and enameled designs, enhanced by bright colors and transparency of the material.

Gallé made vases and lamps in two distinct qualities of glass: his "masterpieces", that took hours of precise work to make and his less expensive, though of high quality art glass, that would later be called "industrial Gallé".

Major works (from 1989 to 1904):

Glass vases and lamps, with cameo or wheel-carved Gallé signature, etched to depict landscape scenes, flowers, butterflies or birds amongst foliage, in double or triple overlaid and etched glass; internally decorated, overlaid, wheel-carved glass; cameo glass; flashed, engraved, chased and enameled glass.

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