Emile Gallé

French artist in glass, wood and ceramics

Gallé was not only the most famous artist of the école de Nancy but he was also a bright manufacturer. He helped in his father's glass compagny as soon as 1867. And replaced him in 1877 as director. In 1885, he founded a wood workshop and in 1894, a cristal firm in Nancy.

In advance on his time, he mixed a lot of influences but always created something new and different, something mysterious that belongs to him. Among the influences we can found in his work, I have to stress on litterature and nature. Most of his vases have a poetical sentence carved or sealed in them, which is related to the object design or owner. Adapting his work to the personnality of the owner is a common feature for AN artists. Nature that he knew well, collecting and studying plants at his free time, the four works presented in this page are inspired by nature : vegetals like ferns or ombelles and animals (mostly insects) like cicada and dragonfly.

He liked to play with the nature of the materials he uses. He took care of the material quality and worked on new technics. He liked to play on the transparency of the glass and to create new visual or sensitive effects. He patented several new processes for glass work. 

He became famous at the 1889 universal exhibition in Paris when he won a "grand prix". This exhibition did not satisfied him anyway. He thought that this exhibition was not really looking to the future. He compared it to a general antique shop. His work was spread over 5 places all over the exhibition. He knew that he could not stay alone with the increasing concurrence of Germany and the US. In 1901, he created the école de Nancy in order to gather a critical size (both workers skills and fashion style) to resist to Paris and German influences. This school gathered artists, industrialists and teachers. Gallé wanted industry to play the major role in this association.

In 1904, he died of leucemy. The school of Nancy will survive him till 1909 and his factory till the 20ies.

Main works

Further information about Gallé can be found in French, English and German remotely

Marquetry Table, 1898

More pictures

Many thanks to :

for their kind authorisation to use their pictures on this site.

©1993-2012 Frank Derville
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