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Once upon a time
there was Emile Gallé

 

Emile Gallé is born in 1846 in Nancy, France. After graduating from university, he voluntarily helped out at his father's atelier, an artisan working with ceramics and glass, and, at the same time, attended art school.

In 1867 he finished his apprenticeship in the glass factory of Meisenthal. There, he met the artist Désiré Christian, who later played a major role in the life and works of Emile Gallé.

He became enthusiastic and consequently was influenced by far-eastern art, where he picked up rich inspiration. The extensive instructions received, permitted Emile Gallé to work for his father as a designer. He started experimenting with enamel painting.

At the 1878 World Exhibition in Paris, he presented objects with engraved decorations, which won him a gold medal, continuing later with motifs in relief and objects in opaque glass with shading reminding smoky effects.

The incessant search for perfection brought him to important recognitions in the field of ceramics, as well as that of glass. Emile Gallé then mainly oriented himself towards the richness of colours. His objects were wrapped in colours of red, white, gold, blue, green, yellow and were so unique and original, that he won again a gold medal for glass and one for ceramic.

Consequently, Emile Gallé was inspired with the colours of nature, obtaining unique and marvellous results by means of introducing acids and metal salts to the vitreous mass. He produced the first multi-layered objects.

In 1885, thanks to the intervention of the artist Christian, Gallé signed a contract to collaborate with the company Burgun Schwerer & Co. of Meisenthal, which started producing glass of his design.

In 1889 he reached the culmination of his work: at the World Exhibition in Paris he not only obtained the main award for glass, but a gold medal for ceramics and a silver for furniture, which he started to work only since 1884, and also a nomination as Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur. Thus, permitting himself to be included amongst the main exponents of art nouveau in the field of applied arts.

Later he took up engraving with hydrofluoric acid, giving up engraving with the wheel cutter, and thus started introducing grains of different coloured glass into the glass mass, obtaining beautiful effects that were never seen before. He registered two patents.

In 1900 at the Paris World Exhibition he again received medals and was nominated Commandant de la Légion d'Honneur. The entire international community looked upon his original works with growing admiration.

He displayed at the School of Nancy in 1901 two of his works which were of great value: two lamps with floral elements sculpted in glass, which reached perfection: La Fleur de Palmier and Coprins, which are now conserved at the Museum of the School of Nancy and the Gallé Museum of Tokyo, respectively.

Emile Gallé died prematurally on September 23, 1904. Thanks to the impulse given by its founder as well as the supporting effort of his wife, the company at Nancy never ceased to expand and was counting not less than two thousand collaborators.

However, as the years went by, the absence of his great genious led to a certain decline of inspiration, and in 1931 the Society was definitely closed.
In our days the prestige of the works of Gallé remains more vivid than ever.