Spectacular “Vignes et Escargots” lamp by Daum

The emergence of Art Nouveau glassware coincided with a revolution in lighting, the importance of which we don’t fully appreciate today, at the end of the 19th century. Indeed, around 1880-1890, oil lamps and kerosene lighting were still almost unrivalled in every household. It was only at the beginning of the 20th century that the “electricity fairy” emerged as a remarkable development, and gradually entered the daily lives of all social strata. The glassmakers of the Ecole de Nancy were true pioneers, eagerly seizing the opportunity to use electricity to illuminate the colours they applied to the glass.

Colour was one of the major concerns of the master glassmakers of the Ecole de Nancy.

Returning to the colors that had made stained glass in the Middle Ages so glorious, Emile Gallé and Antonin Daum also broadened the palette of coloured glass in mass, which they needed for floral motifs and exact renderings of nature. But there was one aspect that the nature of glass melted from a large mass and blown to shape made difficult to achieve: the modulation of colors, their placement in juxtaposed patches, as Impressionist painters were doing on their canvases at the same time.

It was to achieve this new richness of expression that Daum, around 1900, “resorted to and developed the process of applying powdered glass and enamel to the exterior of vases, in order to produce coloured backgrounds or decorative spots”, as the Jury’s report on the 1900 Universal Exhibition emphasized.

The domain of naturalistic, contrasting and shimmering coluors was one in which Antonin Daum excelled. This new technical process made it possible to create the symphonies of colour we find on the “Vignes et escargots” lamp. The surface decoration with vitrified powders is accompanied by effects evoking the natural atmosphere and depth of the subject, even if simply composed of grapes and leaves. With great finesse, the autumnal tones are perfectly implied. Once again, we see the influence of the Impressionist painters, who, with themes often as simple as these taken from nature, had found a way to render light and atmosphere, and to magnify colour. Finally, the third dimension is brought to life by the delicately applied snails, which seem to move slowly along the base to seek out the shade of the grapevines delicately engraved on the base.

It’s a magnificent testimony to the greatness of French decorative arts at the turn of the 20th century, making this lamp not just a daily commodity, but a work of art in its own right.


“Vignes et escargots” lamp
in multi-layered glass and vitrified coloured powders, with acid-etched decoration of vine shoots, punctuated by applied snails.
Circa 1904
Height: 49.5 cm

25 000 / 30 000€



Decorative arts of the 20th century & Design

March 26, 2024 et 3pm

Tajan, 37 rue des Mathurins, 75008 Paris

Marie-Cécile Michel – Director of the 20th Century Decorative Arts & Design Department
+33 1 53 30 30 58 – [email protected]

Ariane de Miramon – Communication& Marketing Department
+33 1 53 30 30 68 – [email protected]