Daum Glass

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Daum glass
Cameo carved vase
by Daum Nancy.

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Daum Glass

Daum Glass: A short explanation:

The Daum family were originally lawyers, not glassmakers. Jean Daum, father of the famous Daum brothers family, took over a glassworks near Nancy, France, in 1878 as part payment of a debt. His son Auguste (who had been trained as a lawyer) joined him shortly afterwards, to help improve the business. More than a decade later, and some five years after their father had died, the younger brother Antonin (a newly trained engineer) joined him. It was their business and creative skills which made the "Verrerie de Nancy" a success.

The company originally specialised in watch glasses, window glass, and glassware for taverns. They branched out into tableware and exhibited some of their designs at the Paris Exhibition of 1889. Auguste and Antonin Daum were impressed and influenced by the art glass work of Emile Galle which they saw at this exhibition.

Starting with enamelled and engraved "art nouveau" style vases, they moved on to become one of the major forces in the art nouveau movement, seriously rivalling Galle. When Galle died in 1904 they became the leaders.

There have been four major eras in the art glass produced by Daum, namely Art Nouveau (the vase above left is an example), Art Deco, Crystal, and Nouveau Pate-de-verre. Each change in style coincided with a new generation of the Daum family taking over, and keeping the company abreast of current taste and fashions.

All Daum art glass was signed, the usual signature being 'Daum Nancy' with the cross of Lorraine incorporated somewhere. Daum glass was always a teamwork effort, and in the early years it was not usually ascribed to a particular artist. Even the pate-de-verre work from the Daum studio run by Almeric Walter between 1906 and 1914 was always signed 'Daum Nancy'. But there were two exceptions.

Pierre D'Avesn was employed by Daum to design and supervise production of the Croismare Glassworks near Luneville which Daum took over in 1927 and renamed Verreries D'Art Lorrain. The purpose of buying this factory was to compete with Lalique and others for the lucrative market of Department Stores and large-scale retailers, particularly in the USA.

Art glass produced by Daum for this market, either at the Lorrain glassworks or another one they called "Verreries de Belle-Etoile" was signed either "P.d'Avesn" or "Lorrain" or "Val" (company initials), or "Verreries de Belle-Etoile" (if it came from the other factory). Pierre D'Avesn stayed with Daum until they closed their Lorrain factory in 1932 due to the slump in the US market and the impact on art glass sales caused by the depression.

Art Nouveau: Starting with enamelling and engraving around 1891, Daum moved on to art nouveau pieces which often combined multiple techniques, cameo carving, enamelling, and acid etching, for example. They developed techniques of incorporating colored glass into the surface of the molten vessel, which could then be shaped whilst hot and carved or acid etched when cold to produce stunning effects. They continued making art nouveau designs when the factory re-opened after the first world war (1918). But by this stage fashions had changed, the days of flowers, delicate colors, and free-flowing lines gave way to a new wave of simpler, bolder, designs. Art deco designs were coming into vogue.

Art Deco:Daum excelled in making art deco glass. Led by Paul Daum, son of Auguste, Daum designed strong bowls and vases with geometric patterns on thick transparent single-colored glass. The patterns were often acid etched deeply into the thick glass, with alternating bands of polishing and etching.

Crystal:It was another war that ended the art deco period for Daum, and after 1945 they turned to heavy lead crystal, colorless and shaped into figures and vessels. Their lead crystal glass was very high quality, and their art glass emphasised the flowing qualities of clear glass. On the whole they did not incorporate cutting nor engraving, nor any other form of surface decoration. This kind of glass was popular for some 25 years, until the 1970s.

Pate-de-verre Nouveau:In 1965 another generation of the Daum family took over, and in 1970 took the bold step of reintroducing pate-de-verre. They have invited a number of famous sculptors, designers, and master glass artists, to design special limited editions for the company. Salvador Dali was the first, Cesar the second, and the series has been an outstanding success.

The company is still successful today, operating since 1962 as a public company under the name Cristallerie Daum. They make all kinds of figurines in pate-de-verre and crystal glass, as well as their high quality tableware.

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References and Sources:

Click on these book covers or titles for more information:

Daum glass (1993) Paris Salons (1998) Daum crystal (1989) Arwas glass (1987) Daum Mastery of Glass (1985) French cameo book (1980) Daum 100 years of Glass and Crystal (1978) Arwas glass book

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