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Emile Gallé Collection

Identifier: MS-0050

Scope and Contents

This collection is of mixed provenance and contains an assemblage of correspondence, design drawings, and ephemera created by Emile Gallé, French designer and leader of the Art Nouveau movement, and his workshop. It is divided into three series:

(1) Correspondence and Sketches, 1880-1895

(2) Writings and Images, 1884-1969

(3) Design Drawings, 1880-1904


  • 1880-1969
  • Majority of material found within 1880-1904


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in French, with some English translations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for public research. Researchers must make an appointment to view this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

The Copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code) governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions of copyrighted material. Under certain conditions specified in the law, libraries and archives are authorized to furnish a photocopy or other reproduction. One of these specified conditions is that the reproduction is not to be "used for any purpose other than private study, scholarship, or research." If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of "fair use," that user may be liable for copyright infringement. The user agrees to defend, indemnify, and hold harmless the Corning Museum of Glass and the Rakow Research Library against all claims, demands, costs and expenses incurred by copyright infringement or any other legal or regulatory cause of action arising from the use of Library materials.

Biographical / Historical

Emile Gallé (1846-1904) was a celebrated French designer and one of the leaders of the Art Nouveau movement. Born in 1846, in the Eastern French town of Nancy, Gallé was the son of a successful faience and furniture manufacturer. He attended the Lycee Impérial in Nancy and in 1862, at the age of sixteen, he began to travel across Europe studying mineralogy, art history and botany. After returning home in 1864, Gallé spent three years studying glassmaking at one of his father’s workshops in Meisenthal. He also continued to travel in order to develop his knowledge of glass; by visiting museums he was introduced to techniques such as enameling and cameo glass. By 1874, his father retired and Gallé took charge of the family business. A year later he married Henriette Grimm.

Gallé believed that glass vessels should be more than just functional containers. He therefore combined his love of nature and knowledge of glass techniques to produce unique works of art. Using deeply colored and opaque glass layered in several thicknesses, he formed vessels and decorated them with enameled flowers and insects. He also experimented with different techniques such as wheel cutting, acid etching, casing and using metallic foils and air bubbles in his designs. In 1885, he opened a carpentry shop and began producing furniture. Gallé showed both his furniture and glass objects at the 1889 Paris International Exhibition, where he was awarded a Grand Prix and a Gold Medal.

Gallé established a new workshop in Nancy in 1894 known as “Cristallerie d’Emile Gallé.” He employed a number of master craftsmen and supervised all aspects of production. This new workshop enabled Gallé to mass produce pieces of art glass, which was an incredible innovation in the field of glassmaking. At the 1900 International Exhibition in Paris, Gallé displayed not only objects adorned in the naturalistic designs for which he had become famous, but also a functioning glassmaker’s kiln and a complete set of tools. In 1901 he founded the École de Nancy to promote the Art Nouveau style and foster a continuing tradition of creative craftsmanship. He remained president of the school until his death from leukemia in 1904. Gallé’s widow operated the workshop after his death. All of the glass manufactured continued to bear Gallé’s signature, though a star was engraved alongside the name to indicate that it was produced after his death. Production ceased in 1936.


3.5 Linear Feet (2 flat boxes)

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Materials in Series 1 and 3 are very fragile, and Series 1 includes some works on tracing paper. Please use caution when handling these materials.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Series 1 and 2, consisting of correspondence, sketches, writings, and images, were received in 1983 from the widow of Raymond Chambon.

Series 3, design drawings, was acquired at the Sotheby Parke Bernet Monaco auction by Dr. Henry C. Blount, Jr. on October 24, 1982. Blount donated the drawings to the Museum in 1982 and 1993.

Processing Information

Processed by Mary Anne Hamblen and Sandra Glascock in 2016. Revised by Colleen McFarland Rademaker in 2021.

Emile Gallé Collection, 1880-1969
A Guide to the Collection
Mary Anne Hamblen and Sandra Glascock.
May 2016
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Rakow Research Library Manuscript Collection Repository

The Rakow Research Library
The Corning Museum of Glass
Five Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA