Christie's wishes to thank M. Pierre Mérat for his assistance cataloguing this piece. His suggestions identify it most likely as Marinot's inventory no. 1918, executed in 1930, 'Ancienne collection Adrien Hébrard.
'Artist in glass' is the simplest, yet surely the most effective phrase to describe the achievement of Maurice Marinot; for he single-handedly redefined the technical and expressive potential of this medium, and created a body of work that pushed the art of glass way beyond the purely practical or the merely decorative. In a career that lasted some twenty-five years, he created about two and a half thousand pieces, each executed by his own hand. Working initially with enamels to adorn the surface of relatively conventional vessels, he soon took on the greater challenges - but ultimately the greater rewards - of exploring effects intrinsic to the substance of the glass itself. His most productive years were the 20s and 30s and his award of the Légion d'Honneur in 1932 reflected the very high esteem in which he was held.
The present flacon is a consummate expression of Marinot's vision. The piece brings together a range of virtuoso furnace and cold techniques to considerable visual and tactile effect. The work incorporates internal orange-red colouring and grey flecks, deep etching of the heavy body, and judicious wheel cutting to create facets that reflect sparkles of light. And it exploits this array of skills in the service of a theme - fire - that lies at the very heart of Marinot's art. For it is in the flames of the furnace that humble silica is transformed, through intense heat, into glass, and this glass given colour and form. The flacon's internal colour and etched relief evoke the licking tongues of flame, while the discreet inclusions appear to float upwards like ash in the heat.
Marinot drew his inspiration from nature, though he tended to translate his observations into an abstract language of colour, texture and effect. This flacon is unusual in referencing a specific motif, yet masterful in its direct homage to its own genesis.