Musée d'Orsay: Emile Gallé Still Water, Lidded Pot

Emile Gallé
Still Water, Lidded Pot

Still Water, Lidded Pot
Emile Gallé (1846-1904)
Still Water, Lidded Pot
Between 1889 and 1890
Several layers of blown crystal, matt base, surface layer partly hammered, pieces of engraved glass, inclusions of metal flecks (silver and mica)
H. 24; W. 11 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Jim Purcell

Still Water, Lidded Pot
Still Water, Lidded Pot

Eaux dormantes, pot couvert [Still Water, Lidded Pot]

Aquatic life was one of Gallé's favourite themes; he admired the art of the Far East and this pot shows the influence of Japanese ceramics. Still Waters is one of the most beautiful and most perfect of the Lorraine master glassmaker's creations. He has used a complex technique to conjure up the poetic atmosphere of a pond at nightfall, even the air bubbles pricking the surface of the glass as they do the surface of stagnant water. A dragonfly and a moth stir the immobility of the scene. The lidded pot is made of blown crystal, engraved and enriched with inclusions of fragments of white glass and silver flecks.

A quatrain by Victor Hugo taken from Les Rayons et les Ombres, 1840, has been engraved under the right wing of the large dragonfly and the music of the words amplifies the visual beauty of the pot.
"The globular eyes
Of the quivering dragonfly
Are mirrored in the splendid pond
Swarming with mysterious life."

In 1890, Gallé gave his pot to an old friend, Roger Marx, who was a civil servant in the Ministry of Public Instruction and the Fine Arts as well as an art critic. He had steadily supported Gallé and defended "modern" art, refusing the established separation of the major and minor arts. This battle bore fruit the following year, when Still Waters figured in the Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts in 1891, the first official salon to accept decorative objects alongside paintings and sculptures.

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