Daum Art Glass



2015-06-26 10:53:37

Daum art glass is art glass, including figurines, bowls, vases and perfume bottles made by the Daum glassworks in Nancy, France. Daum also had lesser known, glass producing factories across Croismare from 1928. These were managed by Pierre D’Avesn, former Lalique employee.



The roots of Daum art glass, or Daum Freres, can be traced back to 1878: Jean Daum, a French attorney, was placed in charge of a largely unsuccessful glassworks in Nancy, a north-eastern city in France. He was given the position in lieu of repayment on a debt. The art glass recognised by contemporary collectors as Daum, however, was not produced until the 1890s.

The Daum Verrerie de Nancy company, as it was known during the 19th century, produced a range of goods, including pocket watch crystals and domestic glassware. It was Antonin and Auguste, Daum’s sons, who were instrumental in steering production towards art glass, which was both popular and propitious during the period, and by 1893 the firm were exhibiting etched Art Nouveau cameo glass at the Chicago World Fair.

The technique used to make cameo glass has evolved over several centuries, and until the end of the 19th century cameo glass was carved on a wheel, with a variety of different tools used to expose different layers of glass, resulting in a silhouette, or cameo. Cameo glass was elevated to the level of fine art during the period by practitioners such as Emile Galle (who opened his own glass factory in Nancy in 1894).

Although Galle was generally considered the preeminent cameo glass artist, Daum was also very highly regarded by an appreciative public, and the company was decorated with several awards at international art fairs.

At the Daum glassworks, playful and ingenious techniques were employed in order to create an ever better product: acid etching, acid frosting and wheel turning techniques were honed at Daum, with finished pieces boasting ever more complicated effects. Some Daum pieces have an almost ‘hammered’ look – a supposed impossibility in glass that Daum, regardless, managed to create.

Following Galle’s death in 1904, the stage was left vacant for a new art glass champion to swagger in and assume the role. As frosted Vitrified pieces and polished jade items were introduced into the Daum oeuvre, the company’s reputation rose even further.

Progress in the field of art glass was stunted by the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. Daum suspended its production in favour of contributing medical glass to the war effort. Jean Daum (junior) – the son of August – was killed in the Battle of Verdun.

The interwar period was marked by an aesthetic shift: the flowing curlicues associated with Art Nouveau gave way to the bolder, more pared down and linear style we now term Art Deco. Glass making technologies also rapidly modernised and mass production superseded hand crafting as the primary means of glass creation. Pâte-de-verre—in which crushed glass was placed in a mold, heated until it had fused, and then finished using some of the same cameo-glass techniques—was widely used. In general, Daum vases from the 1920s and ’30s were squatter and more rounded than the tall and slender, more Art Nouveau shapes of the early 1900s.

During the late 1920s Paul Daum, another of August Daum’s sons, opened a number of glassworks across Croismare. Novice Daum collectors often overlook pieces created in these factories, much to their detriment. Former employee of Lalique, Pierre D’Avesn managed these factories – he brought what he had learned at Lalique with him and the factories created much collectible, beautiful glassware. Items made in the Croismare factories, however, do not carry the classic ‘Daum Nancy’ mark, which famously includes the cross of Lorraine.

Being of Jewish descent, the Daum factory suffered much under the Nazi occupation of France. The ambitious, entrepreneurial Paul Daum was imprisoned in a concentration camp, where he tragically died in 1944.

After the war, the company shifted gears once more, this time focusing its artistic energies on clear, brilliant, lead crystal, which was hot-worked into figures or blown as vessels. These pieces were not entirely new, though, having descended from the Daum Christalerie de Nancy work of the 1920s. Similarly, pâte-de-verre was reintroduced in the 1970s as Pâte-de-Verre Nouveau.

Collecting information

Daum art glass originating from the glassworks in Nancy carries the distinctive 'Daum Nancy' mark, which famously includes the cross of Lorraine.

Art glass made at one of the many Croismare factories does not carry this mark. The Croismare factories were opened after 1928. All Daum glass from these factories was created after this point.

Condition and eye appeal are key concerns.

Daum art glass is highly respected by collectors world wide. Daum designs include figurines, sculptures, bowls, vases and perfume bottles.

Daum is currently the only commercial crystal maker to employ the Pâte-de-Verre method of creating crystal and art glass figurines and sculptures. The Pâte-de-Verre process consists of creating a glass paste which is applied to the surface of a mould. After the paste is applied the piece is fired. The great benefit of this method is that it allows the glass maker to precisely control the location of the glass colours in the mould. Other methods of filling a mould usually result in the colours moving from the location in which they were originally applied. The Pâte-de-Verre process greatly minimizes this colour shifting.

Daum has collaborated with many highly distinguished artists such as Salvador Dali, Paloma Picasso and Arman. Daum continues to produce some of the world's most breathtaking fine collectibles

Price guide

  • A Daum Algues et Poissons vase brought $48,000 at Sotheby's in June 2006.
  • A grapevine and snail vase sold for $25,000 at Simpson Galleries in April 2006.
  • A Daum glass cameo lidded bowl, decorated with wild mushrooms and pine leaves brought $18,00 at Gallery Sixtyeight Auctions in December 2010.
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