The Daum family name has been synonymous with art glass since the late 1800s when the family immigrated to Nancy, France. The patriarch Jean Daum and eldest son Auguste established a glasswork factory with their youngest son Antonin Daum who took the family industrial glass production in a new direction by introducing art glass. Antonin was greatly inspired by the work of fellow Art Nouveau artist Emile Gallé, describing him as “radiating genius, an artist of dreams, a technician of enchantment”.[1]

Emile Gallé created scenic pieces on glass that he referred to as “paysage de verre” which translates to “landscape glass”. Paralleling Gallé, the Daum family ventured into the world of cameo glass production as well and began experimenting with various techniques including wheel engraving, deep acid etching, marbled and two-three layered glass. These applied techniques were necessary to achieve the design of this Daum cameo glass vase. It was said that Antonin Daum had an undeniable gift for color and he once noted that “Flowers, fruits, little animals, landscapes come into play not so much for their graceful shapes or their symbolic significance, but more to emphasize the glows, the reflections and the gem-like qualities of the marvelous substance that is glass”.[2]

The narrative story behind this “paysage de verre” Daum vase starts with us looking beyond the trees where we notice the architecture of a village in the distance as outlined by rooftops and the spire of a church. The sky is a soft burnt orange reminiscent of an early morning sunrise or late evening sunset with wisps of clouds above the town that adds motion to the already vivid scene laid before us. The silhouette of the village consists of clear, sharp lines and brings life into the landscape, which stirs our imagination. The scene begs us to wonder whether it is idealized or real. Perhaps it is the work of the artist providing a glimpse into Nancy, France? This Daum vase is a wonderful example of the extraordinary talents within the Art Nouveau world of art glass.

 

Roshy Vultaggio is a graduate student in the History of Design and Curatorial Studies program offered jointly by the Parsons School of Design and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. She is a Fellow in the museum’s Product Design and Decorative Arts Department.

 

[1] Noel Daum, Daum, Mastery of Glass: From Art Nouveau to Contemporary Crystal (Switzerland: Edita, 1985), 7-21.

[2] Ibid., 11.

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