The Life and Work of Emile Gallé

The Life and Work of Emile Gallé

Emile Gallé is widely recognized as being one of the foremost artists to have worked in the field of glass. The French designer is often considered a pioneer thanks to the impressive innovations he made while working with glass as his main artistic medium of choice. Today, he is one of the most famous artists to have worked in glass and his pieces are often sought out for their quality and their beauty.

The Emerging Artist

Gallé was born in Nancy, France, on May 8, 1846, and died in Nancy on September 23, 1904. He was born to a furniture- and faience-producer known for creating beautiful works, and it was natural for Gallé to eventually become an artist in his own right. He studied philosophy, drawing, and botany. It is evident that his knowledge and love of botany played a role in some of the works he’s created. Gallé learned glassmaking when he was in Meisenthal, France, a commune that has been known for producing glass since the early part of the 18th century.

He eventually went to work in his father’s factory, which was located in Nancy. His first foray into glass art was with clear glass and glass that had light tints. He would decorate the glass using engravings and enamel. However, he soon started to see beauty in glass that had deeper colors. He would sometimes layer the glass in several thicknesses and then use his knowledge of botany to create plant motifs in the work. These would sometimes be carved into the glass, while others were etched.

Growing Fame

It did not take long for his work to gain notice. It was a success when his work was exhibited at the Paris Exhibition of 1878. Appreciation of his work moved beyond France, and he was soon internationally renowned for his abilities. He is considered to be one of the first artists who were part of the Art Nouveau movement. He continued to put natural and botanical themes into much of the work that he created, and Gallé later had another showing at the Paris Exhibition, this time in 1889. This helped to further cement his place in history.

He started to work with other methods of creating unique work in his glass pieces. This included using air bubbles, along with metallic foils. He also became very interested in Japanese art, and this influenced some of the pieces that he created.

One of the other achievements was creating a shop that was able to reproduce the designs that he and other artists made. This allowed them to sell more of these pieces of art to people. The workshop would grow to the point that it was able to employ around 300 people. One of the workers at the shop was Eugene Rosseau, a famous glassmaker. The shop was a success and lasted until 1936, more than three decades after Gallé died.

In addition to his glass artwork, Gallé wrote a book. It was called Writings on Art 1884-89. However, this book was not published until four years after his death.
Emile Gallé was and continues to be a very influential artist for those who are working in glass, as well as other artists working in various mediums. His work is still highly valued and sought after by those who collect decorative art.

Value at Auction

Gallé is still very popular, which means when his work comes up at auction, it tends to sell quickly and for a substantial amount of money. In 2016, there was an auction at Sotheby’s dedicated to the glasswork of this artist that proved just how much people still loved his work.

The auction collected a range of different pieces of work from his life, and much of it sold for more than the estimated prices. A few pieces sold for more than 200,000 euros. The auction was a collection of some of his most beautiful and vibrant work that is just as beautiful and vibrant today as the day it was created.

Recent Exhibitions of Emile Gallé

Works by Gallé have been exhibited in many parts of the world over the years. Some of the most prominent include:

  • Emile Gallé and The Origins of Art Nouveau at The Bowes Museum in Durham, UK from September 29, 2007, to January 20, 2008
  • Celebrating Glass: In Honor of the 50th Anniversary of the American Studio Glass Movement at the Columbus Museum of Art in Ohio, USA from March 6, 2012, to May 13, 2012
  • Modern Life: France in the 19th Century at the National Museum of Sweden in Stockholm, Sweden from April 19, 2012, to January 19, 2013
  • Selections from the Harry C. Sigman Collection of European and American Decorative Art at The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, Florida, USA from February 10, 2015, to March 10, 2015
  • Emile Gallé: Nature & Symbol at the Tokyo Metropolitan Teien Art Museum in Tokyo, Japan from January 16, 2016, to April 10, 2016
  • Meet the Best Masterpieces at The Menard Art Museum in Kadena, Japan from October 1, 2016, to January 29, 2017
  • Art Nouveau: From the Collections of the Badisches Landesmuseum Karlsruhe at the Benaki Museum of Greek Culture in Athens, Greece from April 6, 2017, to May 21, 2017
  • Emile Gallé: Collecting Nature at the Pola Museum of Art in Kanagawa, Japan from March 17, 2018, to July 16, 2018
  • Anticipating Spring: Monet, Gallé, Bonnard, and Japanese Paintings at the Pola Museum of Art in Kanagawa, Japan from December 15, 2019, to April 5, 2020
  • Nature By Design: Botanical Expressions at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Smithsonian Institution in New York, USA from December 7, 2019, to June 14, 2020

These are just some of the many places where work by Gallé has been exhibited. His work still proves to be popular among art lovers and buyers.

If art enthusiasts would like to add pieces from this artist to their collection, they may be found at times in auctions held at some of the top auction houses in Dania Beach, FL.

Selling the Works of Emile Gallé

Do you have works by Gallé that you are interested in selling, appraising, or cosigning? Call Joshua Kodner today, and ensure you receive the true value of your property.