Nature is always Gallé’s inspirational starting point, from which he tries to break free, to attain a personal trait and character.
This impressive ‘La Nature’ bowl, named after another, almost identical piece, by the artist was exhibited as the masterpiece of Gallé’s display ‘Le Repos dans la Solitude’ during the 1900 Universal Exhibition. Standing majestically in the midst of his latest creation, the other bowl bears on its side the inscription ‘la grande communion de la Nature’. Bought during the Exhibition by the master glassmaker Claude Boucher for 2000 francs, it was one of Gallé’s most expensive creations at the time. The bowl is kept today in the collections of the Musée Municipal de Cognac.
The most important pieces by Gallé, called ‘unique’ or ‘artistic’ are made in less than ten copies, each one with significant differences. Gallé himself calls them ‘grand genre’, ‘riche’ or ‘demi riches’ pieces. Extremely hard to produce, these unique pieces are rare because of their technical fragility, only a few could survive the manufacturing process.
As far as we know, our bowl and the one in the Musée municipal de Cognac are the only two known versions of this model in such extraordinary dimensions. Gallé created a limited series of smaller works with a similar motif, including a cup also exhibited in 1900 which bears the inscription ‘Venez, cherchons un site solitaire et prenons un peu de repos’ which gave the ‘Repos de la Solitude’ display its name.
While Gallé’s inspiration for this bowl remains linked to vegetation and therefore to some kind of figuration, the décor of this bowl can be considered on the verge of abstraction and consequently deeply modern. Created circa 1898-1900, during the most original and free years of his life, the offered lot is clearly one of Gallé’s masterpiece. While at the height of his career, he reached with glass what no one else will probably ever reach.
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