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Emile Gallé in 1889

Nancy 1846 - Nancy 1904
Industrialist, master glassblower, cabinet-maker, ceramist

Japanese plate, Musée de l'Ecole de NancyCanthare Prouvé, 1896, Musée de l'Ecole de Nancy Cocotte porte Saint Georges, Musée de l'Ecole de Nancy Jardiniere Flora Marina, Flora Exotica, (in collaboration with Victor Prouvé and Louis Hestaux), 1889, Musée de l'Ecole de Nancy Lit Aube et Crépuscule (Dawn and Twilight bed), 1904, Musée de l'Ecole de Nancy


After several apprenticeships in various European cities, Weimar and Meisenthal amongst others, Emile Gallé became a partner at his father’s glass and faience decoration business in 1867. Ten years later, he took over the family business and extended its activities to cabinet making in 1885. Previously acknowledged at the Clay and Glass Exposition in 1884, Emile Gallé was honored at the 1889 Paris World Fair with three rewards for his ceramics, glasswork, and furniture. Unfortunately, and to the great regret of Emile Gallé, ceramic work was no longer popular amongst the public, thus he oriented his focus to glasswork, a domain in which he developed and created new fabrication procedures. His research lead to the registration of two patents in 1898, one of which concerned the glass marquetry and the other on glass finish.

His work expresses throughout multiple references his diverse interests, in which nature plays a dominant, but not exlusive, role. His patriotic and political commitments were best expressed at the Paris World Fairs of 1889 and 1900 in such pieces as The Rhine Table (which calls for the return of Alsace-Lorraine to France) and the spectacular installation of The seven pitchers Marjolaine (for the rehabilitation of Dreyfus). Involved early on in the renewal of decorative arts, Emile Gallé distributed in his French, German and English warehouses quality mass-produced work thanks to the industrialization of production. 

In 1901, he was the founder and the first president of the Ecole de Nancy, the Alliance Provinciale des Industries d’Art.  

References :
- Emile Gallé, Ecrits pour l'art-Floriculture, art décoratif, notices d'exposition (1884-1889). Paris, Librairie Renouard, H. Laurens, 1908 (rééd. 1998) 
- François Le Tacon. Emile Gallé, artiste des temps nouveaux. Strasbourg, La Nuée bleue, 2004
- François Le Tacon, L'Oeuvre de verre d'Emile Gallé. Paris, Messene, Jean de Cousance, 1998
- Philippe Thiébaut. Emile Gallé. Paris, Découverte Gallimard, 2004
- Valérie Thomas (s. dir.). Emile Gallé et le verre. La collection du musée de l'Ecole de Nancy. Paris, Somogy, 2004