Galle Marquetry from Dr. Mark Jackson Collection

By Mike Fredericks, Department Head & Dudley Browne, Consultant

When the stars align and high-quality collectibles can be brought to market at conservative estimates, good things happen. James D. Julia’s November 18, 2015 sale will be no exception. Our Lamp, Glass and Fine Jewelry Auction is an amazing grouping of high-quality offerings, many of which come to us as private collections sold en mass, some being sold COMPLETELY UNRESERVED. Of the more than 600 lots being offered, one of the highlighted groups will be the Dr. Mark Jackson Collection that contains fine Loetz art glass, as well as some of the finest quality Galle marquetry cameo glass to come to market, which we would like to share with you, along with comments from our cataloger:

“Emile Galle is considered to be one of the great glass artists of his time. Not only was he a great artist but also a very astute businessman. Galle surrounded himself with other artists and quickly became a driving force in a new form of glass art. In 1898 Galle patented the technique of glass marquetry. With this new technique, glass artists were able to incorporate fragments of glass into a still malleable portion of glass. Random fragments of glass could be used or glass could be cut into shapes before being incorporated into the molten mass. Fragments could also be layered to form custom colors or create the appearance of depth when the layers were wheel-carved.”

Our November 18th Rare Lamp, Glass & Fine Jewelry Auction includes several vases which are magnificent examples of this technique, the most stunning is the 14-½” Iris vase featured here. The vase exhibits several techniques that make it one of the finest pieces of glass I have ever viewed. First, the body of the vase is internally decorated. By adding lines of various colors of glass to the molten mass the glass blower was able to create orange flame shapes near the bottom of the vase and green slender leaf shapes swirling from the bottom to top of the vase. The vase is also inlaid, using the marquetry technique, with blue, white and green shards of glass cut into the shape of flower petals. These petals were then layered in areas. Finally the vase was attached to an applied glass foot with green glass overlay. When the piece had cooled the marquetry flowers were wheel-carved giving each petal wonderful detail, shading, and depth of color, especially in the areas where the colors were layered. I showed the vase to a colleague in Julia’s Fine Art Department and their comment was ‘The flowers…look like a painting!’ The vase is complete with its original satin-lined leatherette presentation box.

While Galle’s marquetry technique was a great addition to the world of art glass, it turned out to be a very difficult business operation. The addition of glass shards to molten glass lead to a great number of pieces to break or crack because of the vast temperature difference. As a result, a great number of pieces had to be discarded before they were complete. Some of these less-than-perfect marquetry glass pieces Galle still deemed noteworthy and of high enough quality to sell. The pieces offered to market despite having imperfections were signed “Galle Etude”. Etude means study. The Etude pieces come to auction on rare occasions and there will also be one offered in the same November 18th, 2015 Lamp, Glass & Fine Jewelry Auction.