Emile Galle (1846 – 1904)
Emile Galle was one of the masterminds and ideologues of a short and poetic style Art Nouveau. He was born in 1846 in Nancy (Lorraine, France), which was famous for the production of glass since the XVIII century. His father, Charles Galle, was the owner of a small glass-blowing studio. Charles sent his talented son to study abroad, from where Emile returned and became strong artist and a true master of his craft - he has mastered many techniques of glass: carving, applique, inlay, metal crystallization, fusion, etc. In many ways, Galle became famous thanks to a combination of variety of glass processing technologies.
Since 1880 the family factory participated in the World Industrial Exhibition in Paris, and was even awarded by the Jury for the high quality product, but Galle worked in a common way and nothing else could make him boast.
Already in 1889 Emile Galle was achieving a big success at the Paris exhibition, he showed works made in unique technique. He first mastered the Japanese multilayer glass (3-5 layers of glass of different colors) and applied it to the pickling acid. The result was almost always unpredictable, and each piece was - unique. Galle etched glass created a furor, and he was given a great number of orders.
But this didn’t stop the master, and a year later, in 1890, he received at the same exhibition the Grand Prix, as well as the title of master of French glassmaking, which remained with him for a long time. Moreover, there was a notion of "Galle style".
In 1894, Emile purchased several factories in Nancy and put production on stream. What was the secret of success? First of all - in the personality of Emile, who was able to feel remarkably the age and found the exact expression of ideas of new art.
At the turn of the century, the artist found himself in a new environment - the world's industry, where the criterion of practicality became decisive. The answer to this oppression of art became a style known as Art Nouveau in France, in Italy – Liberty, Jugendstil - in Germany, Modern - in Russia. It finally took shape in 1890 and lasted only until 1914. It is hard to imagine what it would have become without the glorious name of Galle. By 1890 already Art Nouveau proclaimed the main principle - every thing that is used by man, must be beautiful, in fact, must be a work of art. Particularly attention was focused on the modernist interior (my home - my castle) and its elements - handicrafts and applied arts. In many states artists turned their attention to an already existing popular tradition and drew inspiration from folklore – some of them found new life in Venetian glass, Russian enamels, etc. In other countries, artists turned to exotic explanation, especially in the east. By the way, Galle himself in the early stages worked with these motifs. Artists of this time were close to the mystic poetry of the Middle Ages and ancient myths. All the mysterious, fascinating and unusual in general was at a premium since the Symbolists’ movement. But it was Galle who found a universal language - he turned to nature, the eternal source of inspiration, but saw it quite differently. Flowers are not intertwined in Galle’s strong lights and did not fit into exquisite bouquets: they arbitrarily and naturally fell on the canvas of glass. Highlighting the palette from inside and wealth lent mystery and originality to his works. Landscape, dragonflies, beetles, butterflies, flowers were not only beautiful but also carried a symbolic connotations, referring to the fragility and the incomprehensible variability of the beauty.
So Galle in 1901 became the ideologist and the founder of the Nancy School, which is inconceivable without the Art Nouveau. The brothers Nancy were the master’s followers, as well as glassmakers, wood carvers, craftsmen, working on metal, etc. They embodied the dreams of the master - a synthesis of arts to complement and enrich each other.The popularity of Galle was understandable - he offered a very unusual and highly artistic products. The symbols on his vases and lamps were simple and clear - to meet the ornament line of poetry ("speaking glass"), swans, butterflies, orchids, thistles, irises, lilies, roses. It should be noted that all plants Emile Galle portrayed with great accuracy, since he was a good botanist. He was particularly fond of the delicate beauty of orchids and at the same time a formidable force of the poison - this flower is very common in the master's works. It was the first time Galle offered production of glass tubes. What could be more mysterious and symbolic to the world? The idea of multilayer glass is used extensively in art nouveau style, it was borrowed from the Middle Ages. But Emile Galle was the first to highlight the drawing artificially and in a very fashionable way. Landscapes, dragonflies, birds, butterflies and bats on the lamps almost came to life - to change the perspective on how the picture, motion and color change. It is the Art Nouveau.So the great master, as no one else managed to combine technical and scientific inventions with a new idea, and found a clear and universal artistic language - the language of nature and symbols. In this way he charmed and conquered his contemporaries. In 1897, Galle patented another technique - Marquetry - a kind of labeling - so he reached an effect of diversity of textures.
In 1904, E. Galle, died suddenly, without having the final test to a new technology of glass processing. His work was continued by the closest associates - August and Antoine Daum. They were able to be responsive to the changing artistic tastes, without compromising aesthetics of their teacher. The works of the great master of the time – Emile Galle - today are brilliant ornaments of the finest private collections and famous museums like the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Maklou Gallery in New York and the Museum d'Orsay in Paris.