Daum Freres manufactory

The history of the Daum firm began in the late 70s of the 19th century. The land of Lorraine passed to the Germans because of the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-1871. Many people moved to the Nancy region from there. Jean Daum, the lawyer by education was among them. He decided to start business and bought out the Saint Katerina glass manufacture (Verrierie Sainte-Catherine).

It was renamed into the Nancy Glass Manufactory (Verrierie de Nancy) in 1878. He expanded the production and hired new employees. During this time, the factory mainly produced the items in the Historism style. When Jean's sons- Jean-Louis-Augustin (Auguste) and Jean-Antonin (Antonin) joined the business, everything changed. After the death of their father in 1885, the brothers continued his legacy. Augustin took over the governance and the legal management of the company since 1887. Jean-Antonin, who was an engineer and an artist by training, carried out the art direction. Both of them took part in the firm strategic development and corporate governance. The works of the glass master Emil Galle, which he presented at the World The Exposition Universelle in Paris (1889) inspired the brothers and they invited talented artists who began to create sketches for multilayer laminated glass items. The brothers caught the stylistic changes in Europe and turned to the Art Nouveau style (Art Nouveau) trends. Insects, wild grass, lakes and trees comprised the storylines of this style. Although items of this period were custom-made, created in a single copy, the famousness of the Daum Brothers studio (Daum Freres) began to spread.

The success was facilitated by the involvement of talented artisans and artists, such as Jacques Grüber. The firm hired him in 1893, including the creation of art items that were to be exhibited at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago (1893). It was the first worldwide success of the company. The firm glass art masters became the significant members of the French art industry since that time. Until the late 19th century, the firm products were extensively exhibited - in Nancy (1894), Lyon (1894), Bordeaux (1895) and Brussels (1895 and 1897).

Henri Berger became the other significant artist for the company. He was the author of design for the major part of the factory serial production. The brothers strived for the mass production. More commercialized items were produced - they were similar in shape, but with different decoration. The authors of these curious glass objects had nothing in common with symbolic ideology that Emil Galle added to art objects that he created. The beauty of reflections, the unusual multilayer glass chiaro-oscuro effects, fascinated Daum brothers, especially Antonin.

The brothers experimented a lot with the technologies and focused on creating stained glass products with various effects – outward craquelure, local opacification, emanation of multicolor glass inner layers after application of acid.

In the period of 1890-1910, the enamel glass painting was added to diverse technologies of multilayer laminated glass processing.  In 1999, the firm patented its own technology of the interlayer glass decoration – the “intercalaire”. On 1904, continuing experimenting and developing the innovative approaches of Emil Galle, the firm turned the technology of baking of the crushed colored glass (and later crushed crystal). The Daum firm implements the similar technology nowadays. The particularity of this technology made it possible to all objects be singular masterpieces, moreover, no master can to fill the form with multi-colored crushed glass (crystal) the same way. Thus, the shading-off is unique every time.

During the Universal Exhibition in Paris (1900) Daum firm was awarded a ‘Grand Prix’ medal. When Emil Galle figured the Provincial Art Industry Alliance in 1901 (later renamed as the Nancy School), Daum brothers were fully engaged in its activities. After Émile Gallé died in 1904, they headed the School.

A new stage of experiments and search for new technologies started in 1906, when Amalrik Voltaire joined the firm. His pate de verre technology (glass dough or paste) proved to be especially effective for the development of the firm mass production. It also expanded implementation of the ancient cire perdue (lost-wax) technology. These technologies allowed creating expressive and peculiar decor items that are considered the references of the "Grand style" era.

Auguste Daum passed away in 1909. Antonin Daum continued the firm governance together with his nephew Paul Daum, who took over the artistic component of the project, as well as two other nephews - Henri and Jean. It was the time when the firm transferred form the decorativeness of the Art Nouveau style to more repressed style and rhythmic ornamentation. New practices were developed that were characteristic of the post-wat Art Deco era. Gradually, Jean undertook administrative functions that his father had performed - he actually became the firm managing director. Paul, a graduate of the Nancy Institute of Physics and Chemistry, was responsible for the artistic component. After 1918, the family collaboration assisted the firm to adapt to the new post-war production realities – they managed to maintain the quality, technological processes and high artistic level that were laid down by the older generation of the firm managers.

Actually, the only operating glass factory in Lorraine during the economic crisis of the 30s was the Daum Brothers firm. The firm practically switched over to crystal production after World War II - mass scale serving pieces and interior compositions. A joint foto project of the Daum firm with photographer Pierre Jahan became one of the collaborations. The entire series of the Daum firm glass works’ surreal photos was created.

Antonin's senior grandson, Antoine Froissart, an engineer, developed the production of distinct transparent and shiny crystal. This new method allowed creating the details with thick and flexible forms and impressive configuration. Thus, by the time when in 1965, Jacques, the grandson of Auguste, invited César Baldaccini to join the project, the firm had ready elaborated the material for the sculptural works of the outstanding artisan.

Currently, the Daum Brothers factory is one of the leading glass enterprises in France. Stemware and highly artistic interior decor items are produced there as before. One of the recipes of this firm success was its openness to not only the leading art styles and trends, but its readiness to explore new technologies, to apply risky practices and invite diverse artists for the participation in collaborations as well. The firm collaborated with Louis Majorelle, Georges Braque, and Salvador Dali in various periods, as well as with contemporary artists - Hilton McConnico, Tamara Kvesitadze and many others.

The history

Exhibits in the Museum Collection