The goldsmiths and jewellers of the second half of the nineteenth century constantly strove to perfect and develop the techniques of enamelling for artistic purposes.
Eugène Feuillâtre, who headed the Lalique enamelling workshop before opening his own workshop in 1897, specialised in enamel on silver. The dilatation of the metal and its reactions with the colouring agents made this technique difficult. But it allowed Feuillâtre to obtain the blurred, milky, pearly tones that are so characteristic of his work.
Cloisonné enamel and painted enamel are used to decorate this Vase with a Lake Scene, executed about 1901. Its very simple form spreading at the base and tapering gently towards the neck heightens the gleam of the enamelling on the body of the vase. The turquoise water is illuminated by silvery moonlight. The clear, night sky, pale yellow at the horizon, is bordered by dark blue trees. This décor suggests "the twilight poetry of a lake scarcely stirred by the presence of white swans" according to the description of a small vase with the same motif exhibited in 1901.
Admittedly, aquatic landscapes are tempting for an enameller. Reflections and transparency are a challenge as much as an inspiration. The water theme is found in other works by Feuillâtre. His Ophelia vase exhibited at the Universal Exhibition of 1900 stands on water lily feet.
Feuillâtre's use of silver for the cold colours of the water illustrates his ability to choose materials to suit the effect he wanted. He is one of the craftsmen whose talent swept artistic enamelling to a veritable apotheosis about 1900.