Émile Gallé, French, 1846 - 1904

Made in Nancy, France, Europe

c. 1900

Mold-blown glass with "marquetry" and carved decoration

Height: 8 1/8 inches (20.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 160, European Art 1850-1900, first floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of John T. Morris, 1900

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Embodying both a Romantic floral naturalism and the poetic feeling of the Symbolists, the work of Émile Gallé was hailed by his contemporaries for liberating French decorative art from historicism through its innovative and modern applications of stylized plant forms. Much of his glass is inscribed with lines of Symbolist poetry or verses by Victor Hugo, with whom he shared a love of nature. In this vase Gallé has translated into glass the inscribed quotation from Hugo: "The bluets found it beautiful." Superimposed on an artichoke form, this wildflower has transformed the homely vegetable into a thing of beauty, with flamelike streaks and metal particles inlaid in the glass itself. An inventor of dazzling decorative techniques, Gallé realized the bluets by his patented process of glass "marquetry," and it was for such technical innovation as well as for his remarkable naturalistic aesthetic that his works were collected by the Museum in its early years. Katherine B. Hiesinger, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 155.
  • PublicationStyles, 1850-1900

    Emile Gallé was the most important and original artist-glassmaker of the nineteenth century, creating a personal Art Nouveau style that embodied both a Romantic floral naturalism and the poetic feeling of the contemporary Symbolists. Gallé considered himself a Symbolist, and inscribed the verses of such Symbolist poets as Charles Baudelaire, Robert de Montesquiou, and Maurice Maeterlinck on many of his works. Like Baudelaire, Gallé was particularly drawn to the poetry of Victor Hugo, whose love of nature in all its moods, mystical experience of infinity, and vision of the universe he shared.

    Gallé employed a variety of decorative techniques--flashing and clouding colors, exploited air bubbles, crazing, and other "imperfections" in the glass, acid etching, wheel engraving, and enamel painting. In 1898 he patented a process he called glass or crystal "marquetry," in which shaped and sometimes previously decorated colored glass fragments were inserted into a vitreous glass matrix where they could later be revealed by cutting. The homely artichoke form of this vase is transformed by effects of color and texture inlaid in the glass itself, enriched by flamelike streaks, metal particles, and the brilliant "marquetry" flowers cut in relief, so that as the quotation from Hugo inscribed on the surface of the vase suggests, even "the bluets found it beautiful." This vase was exhibited at the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1900, where the critic Roger Marx described Gallé as an "innovator" who had liberated French art from the "despotic supremacy of dead styles" through his "modern" applications of stylized plant forms. Kathryn B. Hiesinger, from Guides to European Decorative Arts: Styles, 1850-1900 (1984), p. 38.

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