Glass artworks combine colour and volume, thus uniting extraordinarily the arts of painting and sculpture. In a beautiful vase, natural light is caught and multiplied in such a way that it finally escapes after having enhanced the glass colours in a tridimensional space. The works of Emile Gallé, the best glass artist of the beginning of the twentieth century, reached a degree of craftsmanship that has not yet been surpassed. This week, you can bid in Galerie Moderne and Horta for some of these masterworks.
Gallé’s opaque carved glass became one of the symbols of the Art Noveau movement a century ago. His vases were a common token of exclusive hospitality between heads of State. His glass style pays exceptional attention to detail, especially plants and insects, but cannot be considered as a mere decoration, as it sets a new ideal of the sublime. Retrospectively, it seems only logical that he studied philosophy, botany and drawing in his youth.
One of the vases at auction in Galerie Moderne (first picture) is unusually big in comparison with the standard size of these glass gems. Its carved decoration is in rich green and blue, in contrast with a paler background. It is darker at the bottom and lighter at the top, characteristically for Art Noveau. I remember irises at the exhibition but we see harebells in the picture. Maybe the motif changes according to the sides. It is a superb work of 32 cm. The second picture portraits a Gallé vase for a single flower in lively orange and lemon. It is much smaller, 18 cm, and will be less expensive.
In Horta, a more expensive auction house in Brussels, they have, as usual, an interesting choice of Gallés (the rest of the pictures). They are all rather small but worthy. Their estimation is below Galerie Moderne’s but the background colours are less impressive and the combination less striking.