Eric Knowles Eric Knowles, Antiquarian

Art Deco Glass

A few months ago a moulded glass clockcase made in France during the 1930s was sold at auction for £78,000. The clock was of circular shape and a vibrant 'Electric Blue' colour with a relief and depress moulded naked male and female arched figure surround. The stunningly beautiful design had sprung from the inventive imagination of France's premier glass designer of the Art Deco age - Rene Lalique.

Laliques contribution to industrially produced glass design during those inter-war years was rewarded with a gold medal at the 1925 Paris Expo. Although his output was multivarious, Lalique’s offerings represent a fraction of the total worldwide market available to the Art Deco glass collector. Other French and Continental glassmakers are far more affordable and prices today can start at little more than £50 for a Czech perfume bottle.

The work of Frenchman Marius Sabino is well worth looking out for especially his opalescent glass that comes close to Lalique in appearance. Although his designs tend to fall short of those offered by Lalique they should be seen as good vaue for money - a 25 cm bowl with berry and leaf moulding is normally priced at £150. Sabino's most desirable pieces include his opalescent female dancers - starting price about £500 and his coloured vases in sapphire blue and pale amber at £250 and climbing.

The French can also lay claim to producing the finest enamelled Art Deco glass. Names to set the pulse racing include Marcel Goupy, Jean Luce and Delvaux. Goupy appears to have had a preference for tropical and African subjects and a 8ins vase could easily be priced at £1,500 and more. The glass of Jean Luce tends to be more geometric in shape with a preference for heavy forms with acid cut and silvered detail. £500 buys a 6ins vase.

Top of any Art Deco glass collectors shopping list, given the necessary funds, have to be the studio creations of Maurice Marinot. His works qualify as sculptures and make use of skilfull glassblowing with internal and surface decoration of cubistic or tribal inspiration. Think Marinot and then think expensive, a small perfume bottle would probably start at £2,000 and a large 12ins vase £5,000 plus.

More affordable handblown glass can be found by such contemporaries as Andre Thuret, Henri Navarre and Schneider with asking prices nearer 20% of those commanded by Marinot. The ancient technique of pate de verre enjoyed a revival at this time and involved pressing a malleable coloured glass paste into a reusable mould. The French excelled in this medium and a 6ins dish modelled with a blue and green spotted lizard by Almaric Walter is a hefty £4,000.

Scandinavian glass however would be my personal choice to collect with the Swedish firm of Orrefors top of my wish list. With prices starting at £200 for a 10ins vase it is still possible to collect without breaking the bank. Designers names are usually ground onto the base. The emphasis is always on slender shapes and fine engraving. Names to watch out for are Simon Gate, Edvard Hald and Vicke Lindstrand

On the home front the best of British would have to include the engraved and cut designs of Keith Murray for the Stourbridge glassworks of Stevens and Williams. A good 12in vase with a 'Cactus' design still appears relatively cheap priced at £500. The same money, or less, buys a similar vase by Klyne Farquarson - desirable yet still underated. Should your taste be more for the figural then don't overlook the Italian contribution from Murano. A pair of 10ins 'Blackamoors' at £1,000 the have the benefit of going with anyones curtains!


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