Émile Gallé (1846 – 1904) was a French artist who worked in glass, and is considered to be one of the major forces in the French Art Nouveau movement.
Gallé was the son of a faience and furniture manufacturer and studied philosophy, botany, and drawing in his youth. He later learned glassmaking at Meisenthal (Lorraine, France) and came to work at his father's factory in Nancy after 1870. His early work was executed using clear glass decorated with enamel, but he soon turned to an original style featuring heavy, opaque glass carved or etched with plant motifs. His career took off after his work received praise at the Paris Exhibition of 1878.Gallé revitalized the glass industry by establishing a workshop to mass produce his, and other artists', designs. The factory would employ 300 workers and artisans at its height, including the notable glassmaker Eugène Rosseau, and remained in operation until 1936.
Gallé was also a great and noble figure who was treasurer of the Nancy branch of the Ligue Française pour la Défense des Droits de l’Homme and in 1898 one of the first to become actively involved in the defence of Alfred Dreyfus. He also publicly condemned the Armenian genocide, defended the Romanian Jews and spoke up in defence of the Irish Catholics against Britain, supporting William O’Brien, one of the leaders of the Irish revolt. Gallé died of leukemia in 1904.
This wonderful work, property of a Houston collector, is 10 1/4 in. (26 cm) high and is a signed gallé, additionally engraved with the Biblical verses Matthew 5:4 and Isaiah 44:5 in Latin, wheel-carved marqueterie-sur-verre cameo glass and gilt-bronze.
Estimated between $30,000 and 50,000 , it fetched at Sotheby's New York in December 2008 the respectable height of $46,875 (buyer premium included).