Emile Galle (1846-1904)
Emile Galle was a French Art Nouveau artist who created primarily glass pieces. Born in Nancy, France, his original interests were in philosophy and botany, and Galle even took up sketching for a while. Eventually, Galle learned glass making at the Meisenthal factory in Germany, and then returned to his own fathers’ factory in Nancy. He would first experiment with designs on glass in enamel, but would graduate to carved and etched opaque glass.
Some of Galle’s first designs were of floral or plant motifs, probably due to his interest in botany. He found success as a glass artist when his work gained praise at the 1878 Paris Exhibition. Galle continued to find success as well as worldwide fame for his beautiful floral glass decorations by the end of the 19th century.
At the height of Galle’s career, he opened a workshop where his pieces could be mass produced. His workshop remained in operation after his death until 1913 and was operated by a number of fine artisans including fellow Art Nouveau decorator Eugene Rosseau. Besides glass, his factory also produced earthenware and cabinetry.
During his lifetime, Galle was also a fervent supporter of social issues ranging from the problems of the working class to even combating against genocide. He also authored a book that was published posthumously.
Galle is noted for the beauty of his glass decoration despite having very little artistic training. His inspiration came from his love of the natural elements, and he often incorporated minerals like silver and gold into his pieces.