Emile Gallé

Born May 8th, 1846, in Nancy, France, Emile Gallé was a French artist famous for designing cameo glass vases, jewellery and art nouveau furniture.

Charles Gallé, the father of Emile Gallé was a successful furniture manufacturer, glassmaker and faience with his own flourishing business. After studying art, botany and philosophy at school, Emile Gallé served an apprenticeship at Meisenthal where he learned the art of glassmaking, he also visited museums in London and Paris to study the work of other influential designers. At the Victoria and Albert museum in London Gallé discovered the cameo works by great designer Eugene Rousseau, he adored his craftsmanship. He also discovered techniques such as enamelling in the Oriental collection. Later, in 1867, Gallé went to work at his father’s factory in Nancy.

Gallé was a brilliant artist who loved drawing nature, flowers and plants, he would often use these subject matters as inspiration for his work. In the beginning, Gallé started making clear glass models decorated with enamel, soon he developed his own signature style.  His traditional designs featured opaque glass etched or carved with floral motifs, often in two or more colours as cameo glass.

Emile Galle Glass Vases
Emile Gallé

In 1877 Emile Gallé took over his father’s glass and ceramics factory in Nancy, he revolutionised the art of glass making by introducing original designs combined with techniques such as enamelling, cameo and inlay. Also incorporating Japanese styles on heavy opaque etched glass. In 1878, Gallé was awarded a Grand Prix at the Paris Exhibition, afterwards he achieved more popularity and he became highly respected as a great designer of his time.

In 1885 Galle started experimenting with designing wooden furniture, his preferred materials were timbers like satinwood and amaranth. Gallé’s furniture was heavily influenced by his passion of naturalistic designs, he often used plants, flowers, dragonfly’s, butterflies, insects and landscapes as motifs. After shaping the furniture each piece was given to a master carver for the marquetry designs. Gallé’s art nouveau furniture was highly sought after by high society folks, his factory at Nancy ran at full capacity employing approximately 300 people. However, glassmaking continued to remain Gallé’s first love.

In 1893 Emile Gallé decided to build his own glass factory in Nancy to create his own products. He continued to create innovative designs and discovered the technique of applying metallic foils into the glass making process.

Emile Gallé died from Lukemia in 1904, his family continued the production of his work until 1936, since then no authentic Gallé pieces have been created. Today, Gallé’s work is extremely collectable with many buyers willing to pay a premium price to own one of his masterpieces.