Émile Gallé, French, 1846 - 1904
In this whimsical set Western characters in clear glass oppose Asian figures in smoke-colored glass. As with many of Emile Gallé’s glass vases, the chess pieces are inscribed with quotations from poetry and prose. The figure of the Asian queen, for example, bears the phrase la dame noire et doulereuse (the lady dark and aching). This chess set was exhibited along with a purpose-built table at the 1889 L’Exposition Universelle (world’s fair) in Paris.