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Daum Nancy Glass – The Magnificent French Art Nouveau Glass

The Daum Glass was a family concern that started in 1878. The interesting fact about Daum glass is that the family that owned the concern was neither glass blowers nor artists. They were hard core business men with extreme entrepreneurial skills. The founder Jean Daum was a notary from Bitchi. He was also a business man who had lent financial help to one of the glass factories, ‘Verrerie Sainte Catherine’, in Nancy, France.

Nancy was a town on the French- German border. After the French- German war the many French families who found themselves on the German territory shifted to the border town of Nancy. They were mostly business men. The Daum family was one of them.

When the owners of Verrerie Sainte Catherine were not able to repay their debt to Jean Daum, he took over the company in 1878. He named it ‘Verrerie de Nancy’. His two sons managed the factory with a lot of incredibly stringent economical measures.

Since these people were not artists, their first glass produces were not extraordinary. They were clear glass table ware with golden rims. But they were able to market the same with incredible dexterity that these items soon became noticed and still are collector’s items.

They hired some of the cleverest artists and designers like Henri Berge, Almaric Walter, Charles Schneider and Jacques Gruber to help them in designing their ware. These artists were not able to make a stamp of themselves on the articles. Instead, all the articles produced in the Daum concern were stamped ‘Daum Nancy’.

In 1900 the Daum Nancy glass won the ‘Grand Prix’ for the first time and the name of the factory was established. They produced high quality glass using many techniques. The obsolete glass technique called ‘pâte-de-verre’ was revived by Henry Cross of the Daum team.

This was an old almost forgotten technique of firing glass, from Egypt. It involved in pressing powdered glass of many colors and a fusing agent into a mold and firing it to fuse it. This produced beautifully mottled glass objects that are unique in their color.

Their arch competition at this time was Galle glass owned by Emile Galle. Both the companies produced their ware along the same line – wheel engraving and acid etching. But the Daums produced enamelled and vitrified vases with beautiful etchings of nature and landscapes and cameo designs. These vases soon caught the fancy of the world. When Galle died in 1904, the Daums became the unrivalled Art Nouveau glass producer in Nancy.

As a family with business eye, Daums now sought to introduce innovation by adding metallic features to their glass works. For this they collaborated with Louis Marjorrelle who made magnificent bronze frames and mounts for Daum glass articles.

Their golden era continued till 1914 when the World War I started. All the glass works were shut down during the war. When the war was over in 1918, Daum Nancy was restarted but did not come up like before.

Now the Daum Nancy glass articles belonging to Pre-war era are considered to be very valuable collectors’ items.

 

by Marina Chernyak

 

Marina Chernyak
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