Style Napoleon III / Ref.12691
Ernest LEVEILLE - Exceptional cracked glass vase with polychrome and gilt insert decor on a gilt bronze mount, circa1890
Width: 7'' ⅛ 18cm
Height: 28'' ¾ 73cm
Diameter: 7'' ⅛ 18cm
France, 19th century
This exceptional cracked glass vase mounted in gilt bronze is a typical work of the late 1890’s production of Eugène Rousseau (1827 -1890) and Ernest-Baptiste Léveillé (1841-1913).
Eugène Rousseau (1827 - 1890) merchant editor of porcelain and crystals established since 1855 on the 43 rue de la Coquillière à Paris, was a pioneer by going further that everybody else in the renewal of the glass art. Indeed, at the end of his life he starts to study the glasses coloration and obtains unexpected decorations by superposing colored and shady layers inspired bu the old Venetian techniques from the 16th century and practiced by the Chinese people during the 18th century. In 1884, he’s the first to exhibit cracked glass during the Exposition de l’Union centrale des arts décoratifs. Thus, he creates glasses with the aspect of gemstones. The following year in 1885, he gives his stock to his old student Ernest-Baptiste Léveillé, then also merchant editor of porcelains and crystals who had opened on the 74 boulevard Haussmann in Paris in 1869 la Maison Léveillé. Renamed « Maison Rousseau-Léveillé réunies », the production keeps the developed technical characteristics until the death of the master in 1890. The models then become more bold and the decors follow the trend of the curved line. Named again « Maison E. Léveillé », the store is moved nine years later on the 140 Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. In 1902, Ernest Léveillé merges with the maison Toy, also a crystals and porcelains stores, under the name « Maisons Toy et Léveillé réunies ». The establishment is then located on the 10 rue de la Paix.
He participates to many Parisian Salons between 1892 and 1897 and also to the World’s Fairs of 1889 and 1900 in which he wins the gold medal.
Our slender shape vase takes all the characteristics of the technique developed by Eugène Rousseau then exploited by Ernest Léveillé. Indeed, the cracked glass is decorated with an inclusion decoration of red, blue and gold powder, forming beautiful marbled mottled effects. Louis Vauxcelles speaks in these words about these characteristic on his book Histoire de l’art français de la Révolution à nos jours, published betweent 1922 and 1925 : « Without overloading the crystal with gold motifs as many others, without daubing it randomly with bright colors, without trying to assign a role for which it is not made for, or making it look like marble, porcelain, lacquer, bronze, he has for ambition to only create effects that are conform to its nature and to let it be enough by itself, and giving elements of its own decoration. Under the localized action of the oxides, he succeeds to mottle it and braids a net of blazing cracks thanks to a projection of cold water between two fires. Léveillé had the art of the unexpected projections, vigorous reliefs and capricious details. »
Our vase also shows an impressive Napoleon III style gilt bronze mount with a remarkable quality of carving. The circular base rests on four feet, it is adorned with a round roses frieze and a torus of coiling acanthus leaves surmounted by flutes. A beautiful decor composed of small flowers bouquets and intertwined acanthus leaves comes to lightened up the lower part of the vase. The neck is encircled by a splendid knotted cord in gilt bronze falling on each side.
This mount seems to have been made by the sculptor and bronze maker Paul Louchet (1854-1936) old student of Jules Lefebvre and Henri Harpignies. He signs by the mark « Louchet Fondeur Paris » a certain number of his Art Nouveau creations that he makes in his workshop located on the 3, rue Auber in Paris and that he exhibits in the Parisian Salons. The attribution of our mount to the work of this bronze maker was made thanks to a comparison with a similar mount on another vase signed by the artist.
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