Émile Gallé (French, May 8, 1846–September 23, 1904) was a glass maker, ceramist, and designer known as one of the most outstanding glass artists of the 19th-century. He was also a pioneering artist of the Art Nouveau Movement. Gallé was born in Nancy, France, in the home of a faience and furniture manufacturer. The designer began to learn the art of tin-glazed pottery from an early age.

As a young man, Gallé studied drawing, philosophy, and botany, and he later learned glassmaking at Meisenthal. He joined his father''''''''''''''''s factory in Nancy, and, in 1873, he began to produce fine pottery, jewelry, and furniture in his own glass studio. In 1874, Gallé took over his father''''''''''''''''s factory. His early work involved using clear glass decorated with enamel. He soon turned to using opaque glass etched with plant motifs in two or more colors.

In 1878, Gallé received international recognition for his very elaborate glassworks at the Paris exhibition in France. This recognition launched him into success as a glass artist. At the Paris exhibition in 1889, his glass art became the icon of the Art Nouveau movement. Gallé introduced innovative patterns and features to his glass work including air bubbles and metallic foils. Soon after, he revolutionized the glass industry by setting up a factory that mass-produced his art.

Gallé wrote a book on art that was published posthumously in 1908 entitled Écrits pour l''''''''''''''''art. In 1901, he formed the Art Nouveau Movement in collaboration with Louis Majorelle (French, 1859–1926), Eugène Vallin (French, 1856–1922), and others. His work was inspired by nature; he produced glass work that was clear, stratified, enameled, wheel-carved, or acid etched. Gallé developed various techniques for the production of enameled glass and cut and incised flash glass. These techniques were enhanced by the transparency of the glass or by bright colors. He also made lamps and vases. Gallé’s high-quality, less expensive artwork was referred to as industrial Gallé. He died in 1904, in Nancy, and his wife took over the running of the business until 1914, when war broke out. Gallé glassware, made mainly by acid etching, was produced until 1935 when the factory closed.

Timeline

1846
Emile Gallé born
1865
Begins studying glassmaking in Meisenthal
1873
Establishes workshop in Nancy
1874
Acquires control of father's company
1878
Receives four gold medals at the Exposition Universelle
1894
Establishes the Cristallerie d'Emile Gallé in Nancy
1900
Receives the Grand Prix at the Exposition Universelle
1901
Helps establishment of l'Ecole de Nancy (Alliance Provinciale des Industries d'Art), serves as president
1904
Emile Gallé dies