Here is a rare piece of crystal tableware from Emile Gallé. This large crystal tray is circular and then bent at the edges to form an hexagonal shape at the top rim. The crystal has a sepia tone and is finely hand decorated on the edge of the tray with a gold gilt vine pattern.
This piece dates c.1890.
Dimensions: Approximately 35.5 cm (14 in) maximum width.
Signature: "Cristallerie d'Emile Gallé, Nancy, Modèle et décor déposés 14" scripted on the base.
Condition: Good, no chips, cracks or repairs; however does show signs of wear and use with scratches on both top and bottom of base. Gold gilt also has some inconsistent sign of wear around the entire rim, however the tray still shows quite well with no significant losses.
A Note About the Manufacturer:
The famous French glass artist Émile Gallé was born in Nancy, France in 1846 into a rapidly industrializing world. His father Charles Gallé owned a ceramics and glassmaking factory, and in his early years Émile was exposed academically to botany, art, entomology, and chemistry, disciplines which were to serve him well in his later artistic career. In his teens, Gallé traveled widely and in London he was fascinated by the enameling techniques seen in the oriental collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum.
Gallé began working for the Burgun & Schverer glass company in Meisenthal before establishing his own company in 1873. While he found experimenting with classical and enameled designs interesting, his aspirations were dramatically expanded when seeing the International Exhibition in Paris in 1878. There, he was exposed in particular to the cameo glass of Joseph Locke and John Northwood from England and the designs of Eugène Rousseau in pate de verre. Gallé was about to combine his love of nature, his chemical training, and his artistic eye to the worlds of cameo glass, ceramics, and marquetry. Gallé opened a small woodworkers shop in 1885 where he began experimenting in marquetry designs in furniture, while he continued working at his father's factory. In 1889, Émile Gallé displayed his new glass creations at the Paris International Exhibition, designs and colors not previously seen and causing an immediate sensation.
The new style of Art Nouveau had begun to appear, and Art Nouveau aesthetics and love of nature appealed naturally to the still young Émile Gallé. Burgun & Schverer produced Galle's designs when he first established his studio, but in 1894 Gallé built his own manufacturing plant in Nancy and began creating his own designs from inception through production. Gallé personally created many of the designs, and he was known to actively make alterations and approve the designs of the talented team he employed at the "Cristallerie d'Émile Gallé."
As a botanist, his designs are inspired by nature, like insects, flowers, and the minute details of leaves and vegetation. Gallé won many awards throughout his life including the French Légion of Honor, and he enjoyed great popularity and lucrative commissions. He produced both complex, intricate glass designs that took days of painstaking effort to create as well as high quality art glass which was no less beautiful but was less expensive to produce.
Gallé cameo glass was both wheel-cut and acid etched. Both techniques require fine craftsmanship. In either case, layers of multi-colored glass are progressively removed to create intricate and finely detailed designs.
Gallé's work and cameo glass in particular has always been widely copied even during Émile Gallé's lifetime. His style influenced many of his contemporaries including the Daum and Muller brothers, and many others in the region who became collectively known as the "School of Nancy" and of which Gallé was elected the first President.
Gallé died in 1904 from leukemia at the age of 58, and his widow continued to make Gallé glass designs in the factory until the advent of World War I in 1914. These pieces were still produced with the Gallé signature but a star was added to his name following his death.
After World War I, Paul Perdrizet, Émile's son-in-law, began producing Gallé glass once again, even adding new designs but primarily making the multi-layer cameo glass with floral and landscape patterns. All Gallé production eventually ceased in 1936.