Musée d'Orsay: Georges Pannier Vase

Georges Pannier

Georges Pannier (1853-1944), Henry Pannier (1853-1935)
Glass with three layers, gilded and silver-plated bronze
H. 42.3; W. 35 cm
© DR - RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Jean Schormans


From the 1870s, Parisian art dealer-publishers specialised in ceramics, glassware, ornamental bronzes and fantasy furniture in a Sino-Japanese style. The emergence of this exotic trend had been encouraged by the 1867 Universal Exhibition in Paris, held on the Champs de Mars. This resulted in luxury objects being produced in the tradition of the 18th century haberdashers who would sometimes alter imported objects, adapting them to the taste of their clientele.
It was with a certain degree of reticence, and then only in a small way, that the late 19th century art dealer-publishers subscribed to the Art Nouveau style, and even then, only to pursue a very exclusive market. Thus, they sold Gallé and Tiffany vases, but added luxurious, gilded mountings.

The Pannier brothers owned the Escalier de Cristal, a very well known Parisian luxury goods shop. For this ornamental vase they seem to have tried, from the outset, to bring together the spirit of Art Nouveau and an exuberant decoration. This aim is translated through the curious association of the engraved floral decoration and the symbolic motifs of coiled serpents and Medusa's face. The influence of Art Nouveau can also be found in the swirling movement of the stems and petals, as well as in the strands of Medusa's hair and the coiling of the snakes. There is an unusual desire to be "modern".

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