Art History with Anne Lectures for October: Partners in Art

Partners in Art: l’École de Nancy

Peacock window in the Maison Bergeret, Nancy

At end of October, I would normally be boarding the Eurostar for Paris, my ultimate destination being Nancy, the cultural capital of Lorraine. Scott and I ‘discovered’ this beautiful city in 1983, the year it acquired its UNESCO status.  I instantly fell in love with the Place Stanislas, the spectacular mid-18th century square dubbed the city’s drawing room. This perfect architectural centerpiece, one of three interconnecting squares, was commissioned by Stanislas Leszczyński, the exiled King of Poland and the father-in-law of Louis XV. I can’t imagine a better place to enjoy a cup of coffee or something stronger.  

At the close of the 19th century Nancy enjoyed another ‘Golden Age’, being transformed into France’s premier Art Nouveau city. So, if you can drag yourself away from the ‘Place Stan’, as known to the locals, Nancy has a wealth of Art Nouveau architecture to enjoy.  You can find out more on my blog page, ‘Anne’s Pocket Guide to Nancy’. However, continuing the theme of Partners in Art, this series of three lectures concentrates on the artists of l’École de Nancy, which by successfully allying art and industry, brought wealth and fame to the city.

Partners in Art: l’École de Nancy

L’Ecole de Nancy, a consortium of architects, artists, and designers, was officially launched in 1901 following success at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900.  While ‘the school of Nancy’ is at times relegated to provincial status, it was the powerhouse of Art Nouveau, second only to Paris in terms of initiating new technologies and improving the quality of the decorative arts.   Émile Gallé, the first president of L’Ecole de Nancy, specialised in pottery, glass and furniture; the Daum brothers, Auguste and Antonine concentrated on glass, collaborating with stained glass designer Jacques Gruber, while Louis Majorelle was the premier furniture maker and metalworker. Yet this Golden Age had only come about due to a disastrous war and mass-migration.  The city’s destiny, and that of France, had been determined by the Franco-Prussian war (1870-71).

Émile Gallé: father of l’École de Nancy

Gallé (1846-1904) took over the family firm in 1874, transforming the business into one of the world’s leading art industries.  In addition to glass, Gallé manufactured ceramics and furniture, the latter primarily for his creations to stand on.  He was a brilliant innovator, constantly perfecting new techniques.  Beginning with enamelling on clear glass, inspired by Islamic precursors, he progressed to hand carved, and acid etched cameo glass. His ultimate technique ‘glass marquetry’ was perfected for Paris 1900.  Following his premature death in 1904, the Daum brothers were Galle’s natural successors.  

Galle, enamelled glass influenced by Japonisme and an Islamic  mosque lamp

Galle, marqueterie-sur-verre vase and the Rose of France vase

The famous Dawn and Dusk bed  

Daum Frères Cristalleries: glass and stained glass

Migrating from the territory annexed to Germany, Jean Daum (1825-85) took the risky step of investing in the Sainte-Catherine glassworks in Nancy. It was his sons, Auguste (1853-1909) and Antoine (1864-1930), who turned around the fortunes of the cristalleries by developing art glass.  By collaborating with stained glass artist Jacques Gruber (1870-1936), ‘France’s Tifffany’, and Almeric Walter (1870-1959), who perfected pâtes de verre (glass casting), Daum enhanced its artistic reputation. Thanks to such partnerships, Daum survived the 1930s depression and continues to be a leading manufacturer of Art Glass.

Daum Cameo glass and Daum enamelled glass

Gruber, Roses and Seagulls window in the Maison Bergeret
Almeric Walter pâtes de verre 

Louis Majorelle: Furniture and Metalwork

Louis Majorelle (1859-1926), who collaborated with both Gallé and Daum, secured his reputation with a range of superb Art Nouveau furniture.  Diversifying into metalwork, he fashioned lamp bases (with Daum Frères shades), spectacular glazed canopies and breath-taking staircase railings. Acquiring Samuel Bing’s famous gallery Maison de l’Art Nouveau in 1904, Majorelle secured a Parisian outlet for l’École de Nancy. However, Marjorelle’s legacy is the Villa Jika, named after his wife, the stunning studio-house created for him by the young Parisian architect Henri Sauvage. This exemplary ‘total work of art’, now fully restored, provided a showcase for the creative talents of Majorelle and Gruber.

Marjorelle, Waterlily suite
Honesty theme staircase railings in the Banque Renaud
Villa Majorelle or Villa Jika

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One Zoom Lecture Galle


One zoom lecture Daum


One Zoom lecture Majorelle


Three zoom lectures (all of the series)

Lecture 1 Galle Lecture 2 Daum Lecture 3 Marjorelle


Travel Editions Tours

Some news for those of you who are interested in the art and heritage tours, that Scott and I undertake through the Travel Editions company. Although the threat of Covid-19 remains, movement seems easier and Travel Editions has begun to resume some of its tours abroad.

If you have booked in for any of my October lectures on Art Nouveau artists and manufacturers in Nancy (or even if you have not), you may be interested in seeing first hand some of the cultural delights that Nancy has to offer.

Below is a list of provisional dates for Travel Editions tours to Nancy next Spring. Travel is by Eurostar to Paris and  onwards to Nancy by SNCF TGV (high speed rail).

4-7 March 2022 Nancy Art Nouveau 
25-28 March 2022 Nancy Art Nouveau 
22-25 April 2022 Nancy Art Nouveau 

For further details please visit the Travel Editions website: to check booking details etc. Alternatively, give them a phone call on 0207 251 0045.

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