Sunday, 25 November 2012

Nancy - Daum Glass in the Musée des Beaux-Arts

Vase aux hirondelles 1897
Lillian :  As promised in our last post, in this one we will show you some of the utterly gorgeous Daum glass-ware in the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy. 
Audrey :  Apparently Nancy's Museum of Fine Arts is one of the oldest museums in France.  It is in one of the lovely buildings around the edge of the Place Stanislas.  But more about that in another post - this one is all about their wonderful collection of Daum Glass.

Lillian :  The Daum Studio is still making beautiful things from glass, and is still based in Nancy.  The company was founded in 1878 by Jean Daum and his sons Auguste and Antonin were very active in the Art Nouveau movement and l'Ecole de Nancy.

Audrey :  That lovely tall vase has sweet little birdies flying around it - we call those birds Swallows, the French name is l'hirondelle - and you don't pronounce the H.

Lillian :   I'll attempt to translate the label for this vase - "blown glass mold, acid etched, enhanced with painting in enamel and gold".

Audrey :  That sounds very complicated and extremely clever.  Let's see more lovely Art Nouveau glass vases - this one with wasps and daisies is similar in shape and colour to the one with the birdies.

Lillian :   We forgot to note what the label said about this dragonfly vase - but the body of the  dragonfly looks as if it were applied, and that mottled, dappled look is usually made by sprinkling powdered material onto the hot glass. 

Audrey :  I've looked up the French word for the dragonfly - la libellule.  Those Art Nouveau artists liked their insects, like this cicada or la cigale.
Cruche aux épis de blé et à la cigale 1905

Lillian :  That beautiful ewer made us think of the Summer time; with its ears of wheat, delphiniums, poppies and that blue cicada.  From the label ... "mold blown glass, multilayer, acid etched, painting with enamel, enhanced with gold and applications".

Audrey :   Multilayer?

Lillian :  Hmm, we'll I'm no expert but sometimes they used several layers of glass in different colours and then they could etch back to reveal the colours underneath. 

I think this vase with narcissus is made with multiple layers of glass that were then etched.   

Perhaps this tiger-lily vase too ...

The Daum brothers were very clever - they won a 'Grand Prix' at l'Exposition universelle de Paris, 1900.  They also collaborated with, and employed other talented artists including Jacques Gruber, Henri Bergé and Amalric Walter.

Amalric Walter is most associated with the pâte de verre (glass paste) process,  a revival of an ancient Egyptian technique.  Daum still use pâte de verre to make some of their pieces.

Audrey :  That's a bit mind-boggling - using such an ancient technique ...

Lillian : Well, when you think about it, making glass is basically the same today as it was in ancient times ... you take silica (quartz sand), add a few things to it such as lime (from limestone) and potash and then you super-heat it until it melts.  The Alsace/Lorraine region has produced glass-ware for centuries - perhaps because the area had (still has) plentiful forests, water and very white (so not many impurities) limestone and sand.  Baccarat crystal is another glass-maker still in production and Baccarat is just to the South-East of Lorraine.

Let's see more flowers -  tulips, 

Crocuses and Cœur de Jeannette ...
Vase aux Cœur de Jeannette 1910

Audrey :  Oh!   that's the flower that we found in Avallon - we hadn't seen it before.  The English call this flower 'Dutchman's trousers' but I think I prefer the name - Heart of Jeannette.

Audrey :  This was my favourite vase - Red Poppies.  (you can see the other side in the photo of the Tiger-lily vase above)
Vase aux pavots rouges 1923
Lillian :  Translating the label for the lovely poppy vase ... "mold blown glass, multilayer, acid etched ... hammered"  this vase has a metal base ... 
Audrey :  Excuse me - you said it was "hammered" ?   But this is glass, you can't go about hitting beautiful glass vases with a hammer! 
Lillian :  Well, perhaps the glass is still hot and not quite hardened when they do it ... if you look closely there is a dimpled effect in the glass. 
Audrey : I wonder how many lovely things didn't quite make it through all the processes and techniques they used in order to make one vase.

Lillian :  Well, here are some examples of another technique that the Daum Frères used to great effect - application of glass 'bubbles' and 'dribbles'.

Audrey :  Very different styles there - the 'grape' vase is earlier than the others.

Lillian :  Yes - and here are some very Art Deco pieces ...

Lampe rectangulaire 1930
This tall vase is encased in metalwork.  The yellow lamp is mold-blown and engraved with acid. 

Audrey : That yellow looks almost edible.

Lillian :  The colour, clarity and sparkle of this mid-century vase was amazing.

Audrey :  This bowl is quite recent - 1987 - and the cactus (it looks like prickly pear Opuntia)  is made with the pâte de verre technique.


Lillian :  Our last photo for this post is a close up of an Art Nouveau, bowl.  Beautifully decorated with toadstools. 

 Audrey :  In our next post we'll be exploring some of the other things in Nancy's Musée des Beaux-Arts.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Nancy - mostly Gargoyles

Audrey:  We do like gargoyles, they are such fun and we found lots of fabulous 'goyles in Nancy, on the Basilique Saint-Epvre and, just around the corner, on Le Palais Ducal (it now houses the Musee Lorrain, which we showed you in a previous Post).

LillianSt-Epvre is a minor basilica (not a full Cathedral) in the Gothic Revival Style, the architect was Prosper Morey and building was started in 1864.  When we saw it in the spring of 2011 the building was being renovated and we did not see the interior.

Audrey:  The renovated parts were almost white - like a lot of buildings in Nancy.

Lillian:  Yes, this is Euville stone - a limestone famed for its whiteness - the Opéra Garnier in Paris is of the same stone.  Unfortunately it does need cleaning frequently - pollution makes it go grey.

 Audrey: Before we look at all the Gargoyles, lets see that tympanum in detail -

What is the story with the 4 winged ones Lillian?

Lillian: They represent the 4 Evangelists; the angel is St Matthew, the eagle is St John, the bull or ox is St Luke and the lion is St Mark.

Audrey:   Ahah - because there are statues of these winged ones out the front of the Basilica.  I really liked the cow,  but I am glad that cows can't really fly!

 Lillian:  Ummm  time for some gargoyles I think.



Audrey :  That one is a bit of a goat!

and this one has the body of a wallaby or kangaroo.  An Aussie gargoyle in Nancy, France!   How wonderful!


Here is a lady having a Very Bad Hair Day!

This guy is not being very nice to his dog!  And you would think he'd be nicer to his doggy seeing as he seems to be a bit of a dog himself!



Dear me, even the King is having a terrible time!  

 Audrey : We also found a lion round the side of the Basilique Saint-Epvre - I like lions and this one was quite friendly.

Lillian: We walked all round St-Epvre and up & down some lovely gothic stairs - keeping a good look out for more lions; as not all lions are friendly! 

 Lillian:  Although the current Basilique dates only from the mid-1800s there had been a church there since 1080 and the square - the Place et Basilique Saint-Epvre was the major market place in Nancy until the end on the 19th C.  There is a fountain and statue of Duke René II in the square - these days it is rather dwarfed by the surrounding buildings and all the cars.

Audrey:  What have we found out about René No: 2?  he is often depicted like this - flourishing a sword aloft like a toothpick in need of a cocktail onion.

Lillian:  Oh Audrey!   Duke René II of Lorraine, he defeated Charles the bold, Duke of Burgundy, at the Battle of Nancy in 1477.

Audrey:  He was also Duke of Bar, Duke of Calabria, Count of Harcourt, Count of Guise, King of Naples & Jerusalem.  Quite a busy person!

Lillian:  Just around the corner, on the Grande Rue is the le palais Ducal - the Duke's Palace

Audrey:  Sorry to interrupt but - Grande Rue / Great or Big Street ... that is something of a misnomer!   It is really narrow, not straight and quite marvelous - we have a photo taken about mid-way looking back at the bell tower of the Basilique Saint-Epvre.

Audrey:  Back to the Duke's Palace - this fabulousness is over the main doorway.  Another statue of a man on a horse, is this Duke René II again?

Lillian:  No, although the palace was originally built for René II, that statue is of Antoine, Duke of Lorraine (1489-1544).  He was a son of Rene and was known as Antoine the Good.

Audrey:  Tee hee, was there also an Antoine the Bad?!
His horsey is getting its tummy tickled by a thistle - the thistle is one of the heraldic symbols of Lorraine.   These babies have more heraldry ...

Lillian:  Let's see -
there are lots of fleur-de-lis, the "Crusader's Cross" for Jerusalem, twinned fish for the Duchy of Bar & three flying eagles in the middle.

 Most of the facade of the Palace dates from about 1520, late gothic but it was heavily restored in 1871 and the supervising architect was Prosper Morey - who designed St-Epvre.

Audrey:  The roof has really pretty lacework along the top ...

and there are really massive Gargoyles, many animal based.

a furry bear gargoyle

pig gargoyle

though the pig's paws are not trotters
Panther Gargoyle - with a brave pigeon

Griffon 'goyle
Audrey :  And a man with a bad hang-over.   Originally gargoyles were rain-spouts; meant to send rainwater as far from the walls of the building as possible.   So the original of this gargoyle would once have vomited water all over the people walking down the Grande Rue! 

Lillian :  We'll leave this post with a funny little monk that we found on the wall of the Ducal Palace.

Audrey : What will we show people in our next post Lillian?
Lillian :  Perhaps we'll go to the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy, lots of wonderful glassware there.