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An Extremely Rare Pair of Cameo Glass Vases

FRANCE, Circa 1865

REF No. B53630


Height :25 cm | 21⁷/₈ in
Width :31 cm | 12¹/₄ in
Depth :24 cm | 21¹/₂ in


An Extremely Rare Pair of Cameo Glass Vases by La Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat.

The vases are etched on opposing sides with classical figures and anthemion decoration bordered by Greek-key and leaf-tip banding, heightened in gilt. The blocked out background of the motifs, the half-tone effects and the satin finish represent the most refined and elaborate of etching techniques.

For the 1867 Exposition Universelle, Baccarat prepared a series of vases based on the cult of Bacchus, using neo-classical figurative motifs inspired by antique bas-reliefs and the Borghesi vase in the Louvre. The vases were made from opaline glass cased in cobalt blue or amber, a process whereby two layers of differently coloured crystal were overlaid then etched or cut to reveal the design. Also included in this series was a related punch bowl cased with blue crystal now in the Corning Museum of Glass, New York, and a pair of similar cameo vases with amber etchings, illustrated by Jean-Louis Curtis, in his book 'Baccarat', p.246.

A single example of this vase or wine cooler is in the collection of the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Bequest of Sylvia D. Greenberg, 2002.11.141.


Baccarat is the world's leading manufacturer of crystalware. Founded in 1764 under the patronage of Louis XV as Renault et Compagnie, the firm became known as the Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat during the nineteenth Century.
The company began to flourish at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, as the effects of the Napoleonic Wars abated, and its reputation was consolidated by the official approval from various sovereigns and heads of state. At the 1823 Exposition Nationale in Paris, it was Baccarat's crystalware that Louis XVIII was said to have particularly admired, appreciating its 'beautiful workmanship'.
It was Charles X's visit to the crystalworks in 1828 however that had the most significant repercussions for the company. Baccarat presented the monarch with a gift of two magnificent Medici Vases, a large crystal Ewer, a fifteen piece Tea Service and a five-piece Water Set. The king then ordered a dinner service for the Tuileries, while the Duchess d'Angoulême personally chose a set of eighteen glasses, described by her as '..sturdy, balanced, perfect'. Later Louis-Philippe and Napoléon II also visited the crystalworks and were followed by a succession of French presidents and foreign heads of state.
François-Eugène de Fontenay (who joined the company in 1841) discovered that by the addition of the nickel oxide in the manufacturing process, a perfectly clear product, 'crystal glass', free of discolouration and imitating precious rock crystal was produced. This is just one of many technical innovations and improvements discovered by Baccarat, that make it the company it is today.
The Baccarat company was awarded a Gold medal at the French Exposition des Produits de l'Industrie in 1855 and has continued to carry off the top prizes ever since. In 1867 they exhibited a gigantic fountain twenty four feet tall, with a basin ten feet in diameter, which it was said 'simply took visitors breath away'.
With the continuing improvement in their manufacturing standards, the quality of Baccarat's 'crystal glass' improved and reached the highest level by the end of the century, competing successfully with the Bohemian glass industry. Baccarat 'crystal glass' is highly regarded, not only for its unusual clarity, but also for its great solidity and weight.
Makers Bibliography:
La Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat, Tarif des Articles d'Eclairage, (Paris), Edition 1903-4.
Curtis, Jean-Louis, Baccarat, Thames and Hudson, (London), 1992.
Meyer, Jonathan, Great Exhibitions: London, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, 1851-1900, Antique Collector's Club (Woodbridge, UK) 2006, p.263


Jean-Louis Curtis, 'Baccarat', Thames and Hudson,1992; p 246.



An Extremely Rare Pair of Cameo Glass Vases

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