Pâte de verre

Quittenbaum Art auctions is happy to present more than 50 Pâte de verre items in its Art Nouveau-Art Déco sale on 28 April 2009.

The so-called Pâte de verre has a history that dates back as far as the second millennium B.C. For this special kind of glass making, multi-coloured glass paste is being put into a mould together with a binding agent (water) and melded at relatively low temperature into a homogenous glass block. Moreover, the Pâte de verre technique, that is related to ceramics, offers the advantage that colours and shapes can be used and modelled precisely.

Mesopotamia was the first country to use this technique for the composition of jewellery and figurines. The Egyptians most prominently developed this kind of glass making between 1500 and 1000 B.C. However, when glassblowing had been discovered in the East Mediterranean area in the 1st century A.D. it became a lot easier and less expensive to produce glass. The Pâte de verre faded almost into oblivion.

In the 19th century only, this craftsmanship got revived in France because of the archaeological excavations that brought Egyptian Pâte de verre amulets or different sculptural grave furnishings back to light. Fascinated by this artistry, Henry Cros (1840-1907), a sculptor interested in archaeology, was one of the first to carry on research on the Pâte de verre technique. His most prominent successor was François Décorchemont (1880-1971), a splendid technician and specialist in mineralogy and chemistry. His small bell-shaped vase with antique pattern is a beautiful example. By the way, his special kind of glass making has not been totally analysed yet.

One of the most famous Pâte de verre artists is Frenchman Amalric Walter (1870-1959), who also rediscovered and advanced this ancient technique. In the year 1903 Walter took over the artistical administration of Daum Frères & Cie. Glassworks in Nancy. Between 1904 and 1914 he created, together with Henri Bergé (1870-1930), a myriad of most different animals, insects and reptiles, either as small sculptures, paperweights or table decorations. 1918 Walter left Daum on friendly terms and opened his own workshop that he held until the late 1930s. From then, his signature AWalter Nancy, together with the artist’s initials, was part of the mould.

Quite a few wellknown designers worked with Walter, e. g. Jacques Adnet or André Houillon. By applying paint in a controlled manner, he was able time and again to achieve very intensive shades of colour.

Collectors topics

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Danese
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Gallé, Emile (1846 – 1904)
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Mari, Enzo
Müller, Renate (born 1945)
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Preiss, Ferdinand
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Van de Velde, Henry (1863-1957)
Vuitton, Louis (1821-1892)