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Emile Gallé Collection

Identifier: MS-0050
This collection contains materials that document the activities of Emile Gallé’s workshop. It includes correspondence and sketches by Gallé to employees regarding designs and colors for various furniture and vases; writings by Gallé on both art and nature; and writings on Gallé. The bulk of the collection consists of over 145 design drawings produced by Gallé’s workshop. These pen and ink drawings on tissue paper depict botanical motifs such as flowers, leaves, branches, thistles, berries and grasses on a variety of tableware and vases.


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


Language of Materials

Collection materials are in French.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to researchers.

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.


3.5 Linear Feet (2 Boxes)

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. Therefore, he combined his love of nature and knowledge of glass techniques in order to produce unique works of art. He used deeply colored and heavy opaque glass, layered in several thicknesses, to form his vessels and he decorated them with enameled flowers and insects, whose shapes were copied directly from nature. 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 also opened a carpentry shop and began producing furniture. Gallé showcased both his furniture and Impressionist glass objects at the 1889 Paris International Exhibition, where he was awarded a Grand Prix and a Gold Medal.

In 1894 Gallé established a new workshop in Nancy known as “Cristallerie d’Emile Gallé.” He employed a large amount of master craftsmen while he supervised all aspects of production. This new workshop enabled Gallé to mass produce pieces of art glass while using industrial techniques, 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 working glass-maker’s kiln with 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 passing. All of the glass being manufactured continued to bear Gallé’s signature, though a star was engraved alongside the name to indicate that it was produced after his death. Due to dwindling business, all production ceased in 1936.


Arwas, V. (1987). Glass: Art nouveau to art deco. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc.

Macklowe Gallery. Emile Gallé. Retrieved from

Warmus, W. (1984). Emile Gallé: Dreams into glass. Corning, NY: The Corning Museum of Glass.


This collection is arranged in 3 series: Series I. Correspondence and Sketches, 1880-1895; Series II. Writings and Images, 1884-1969; and Series III. Design Drawings, 1880-1904.

Custodial History

This collection is of mixed provenance.

The correspondence, sketches, writings and images were acquired in 1983 from the widow of the Belgian glass scholar Raymond Chambon.

The design drawings were bought by Dr. Henry C. Blount, Jr. at the Sotheby Parke Bernet Monaco auction on October 24, 1982. He donated a small collection of these drawings to the Rakow in 1982 and in 1993 he donated the remaining drawings.
Emile Gallé Collection, 1880-1969
A Guide to the Collection
Mary Anne Hamblen and Sandra Glascock
May 2016
Description rules
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Rakow Manuscript Collections Repository

Rakow Research Library
Corning Museum of Glass
5 Museum Way
Corning NY 14830 USA