ÉMILE GALLÉ (1846-1904)
ÉMILE GALLÉ (1846-1904)
ÉMILE GALLÉ (1846-1904)
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ÉMILE GALLÉ (1846-1904)
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ÉMILE GALLÉ (1846-1904)


ÉMILE GALLÉ (1846-1904)
Important 'Vase Parlant' from the Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900
multi-layered filigree glass inlaid with marqueterie-sur-verre stem and flowers
20 1⁄4 in. (51.4 cm) high, 6 1⁄4 in. (15.9 cm) diameter
engraved GALLÉ, incised Expo 1900 and Mais le sabbat sombre aux rauques huées, À fui la forêt, Le clair chant du coq perce les nuées, Ciel ! l'aube apparaît ! Victor Hugo
Private Collection, Switzerland
Christie’s, Geneva, 11 May 1981, part 1, lot 174
Acquired from the above by the present owner
H. Hilschenz, Das Glas des Jugendstils: Katalog der Sammlung Hentrich im Kunstmuseum Dusseldorf, Munich, 1973, p. 268, ill. 205 (for a related example)
A. Duncan and G. de Bartha, Glass by Gallé, New York, 1984, pp. 99 and 111 (for a period image from 1901 of present lot illustrated)
A. Duncan, The Paris Salons 1895-1914, Vol. IV: Ceramics and Glass, Woodbridge, 1998, p. 218 (for a period image from 1901 of present lot illustrated)
L'Ecole de Nancy face aux questions politiques et sociales de son temps, exh. cat., Musée de l'Ecole de Nancy, Paris, 2015, p. 75, ill.42 (present lot illustrated in the vitrine Repos dans la Soliture at the Exposition Universelle, 1900)
Repos dans la Solitude Vitrine, Exposition Universelle, Paris, 1900
Post Lot Text
image five: Exposition universelle de 1900, vue de la vitrine Repos dans la solitude, en cours d'aménagement.
Nancy, Musée de l'École de Nancy, fonds photographique Gallé. Photo: © Musée de l'École de Nancy, Nancy.

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Lot Essay

Christie's would like to thank François Le Tacon for his assistance with the cataloguing of this lot.

Held in Paris between April 14 and November 12, 1900, the Exposition Universelle was intended to celebrate the international achievements of the past century and the anticipated accomplishments in the next. Visited by fifty millions visitors, and presenting more than 83,000 exhibitors from nearly 60 countries, it brought international attention to the Art Nouveau style. Alongside the technological innovation of the time, decorative arts were a particular draw, featuring works by Emile Gallé, René Lalique, Daum and Louis Comfort Tiffany, amongst others.

Gallé was one of the first designers to get international recognition through his displays at major world’s fairs. In 1900, Gallé’s presentation was one of the most spectacular, and he invested so much time and effort in his exhibition that he almost ruined his firm: he composed an ensemble of two vitrines, called Repos dans la Solitude and Les Granges, presented on either side of a glass furnace, Les Sept Cruches de Marjolaine. In a dramatic presentation, the vitrines featured Gallé’s latest glass creations including those incorporating his new innovation, the marqueterie-sur-verre technique. Seeing the impressive furnaces with glass in the making next to the prodigious final works in the vitrines, visitors were shown the production process of the works as well as the intention behind them. The objects were no longer solely utilitarian, but also carried a message.

The present vase appears on two Gallé archival photographs of the 1900 Exposition in the Repos dans la Solitude vitrine (the first vase left), identifiable by its slender shape, bulbous base, and superb flower marqueterie along the neck.

In the Guide de lenvoi d’Emile Gallé à lExposition de 1900, Emile Gallé’s catalogue for the works he sent to the exhibition, Repos dans la Solitude is described as:

“Repos dans la solitude. After a text by saint Marc: 'Let’s go off by ourselves to a quiet place and rest awhile.' Vitrine sculpted in wood after the Tree. Group of vases with forest vegetation, themes by saint François d’Assise, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, Marceline Valmore and our contemporary poets”.

As opposed to Les Granges (The Barns) representing the cultivated world, Repos dans la solitude (Rest in Solitude) refers to the forest and the early, untouched nature.

Fascinated by the mysteries of nature and the renewal of life, Gallé found sources of inspiration in the plants and insects of Lorraine. His motto “our roots are in the depth of the wood, among the moss, around the sources” was engraved on the doors of his workshop and reveals the connection with nature that was felt by all the founding artists of the Ecole de Nancy: a scientific approach, combined with symbolism and love of Lorraine. Contemporary literature was also material for Gallé’s creations: Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine and the symbolist poets were among the poets quoted by Gallé on his verreries parlantes. Poetry revealed the symbol, which Gallé re-interpreted in decorative arts.

The present vase, engraved Expo 1900, also bears a quote by Victor Hugo from Le Chasseur Noir (“The Black Hunter”) in Les Châtiments:

Mais le sabbat sombre aux rauques huées
A fui la forêt ;
Le clair chant du coq perce les nuées ;
Ciel ! l'aube apparaît !
But the dark witches shrieking loud
Are fleeing the frontier;
The cocks bright crow pierces the cloud;
The dawn is here!

As an echo to Les Hommes Noirs (The Dark Men) Vase, designed with Gallé’s long-time friend, artist Victor Prouvé, also presented at the 1900 Exposition Universelle and currently in the collection of the Corning Glass Museum (accession no. 2011.3.1), this vase can be seen as a symbol of Gallé’s political engagement: Gallé was deeply moved by the Affaire Dreyfus which divided the French Third Republic from 1894 until it was resolved in 1906. Captain Alfred Dreyfus, an Alsatian French artillery officer of Jewish descent, was falsely accused of handing secret documents to the Imperial German military and was imprisoned in Devil's Island in French Guiana, where he spent five years. Just before the 1900 Exhibition, and in response to years of political protests, Dreyfus was partly pardoned and released. Victor Hugo’s “dawn” piercing the clouds can be seen as the light of truth and justice finally achieved.

Hidden in the private collection of Dr. Thomas Chua for decades, the important vase presented here is an extraordinary rediscovery and a testimony of Gallé’s genius in glass, reaching a synergy between poetry, decorative art, technical virtuosity and political engagement.

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