Musée d'Orsay: Saint-Gobain (1665-1937): An Enterprise in the Face of History

Saint-Gobain (1665-1937): An Enterprise in the Face of History

Provost1855 World Fair, view of the main gallery of the Palais de l'Industrie© Archives Saint-Gobain
Colbert founded the Compagnie des Glaces in 1665 with the aim of supplanting Venetian mirror manufacturing. The mirrors were blown in Tourlaville and transported to Paris to be polished. As early as 1672, Colbert banned the importation of Venetian mirrors, which testifies to the products' quality. At the end of the 17th century, the technique of glass casting on a metal table allowed for the creation of mirrors of up to three meters high.

1848 saw the beginning of the mirror industry's "Golden Age" with commissions for great works linked to the manifestations of the new age: railway stations, libraries, galleries, department stores... The 1920's saw the invention of security glass, of tempered glass for motor cars and the famous Triplex that saved Clémenceau's life in 1919. From 1919, Saint-Gobain became the world leader in a renaissance in the manufacture of hollow glass, bottles and flasks.

The wealth of the Company's archives enable the display to include a surprising variety of objects: watercolours, drawings, mirrors, blocks of glass... images of Versailles, the extraordinary "glass house" and the stunning Coulhon pavillion of 1937.


Caroline Mathieu, Chief Curator, Musée d'Orsay, Maurice Hamon, paleographer-archivist
Didier Bondue, Director of the Saint-Gobain Archives assisted by Michaël Chkroun

Exhibition organised in collaboration with Saint-Gobain


48/14, La revue du musée d'Orsay, issue # 21, Autumn 2005
Musée d'Orsay / Réunion des musées nationaux
€ 11

7 March - 4 June 2006
Musée d'Orsay

Galleries 67, 68 et 69

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