As one of the defining designers of the Art Nouveau era, Daum created some of the most coveted examples of art glass of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Daum continues to dazzle with its contemporary creations – a prime example is the magnificent crystal peacock created in collaboration with Belgian designer Madeleine van der Knoop, which comes with a six-figure pricetag. Seasoned collectors, however, are particularly attracted to the examples that date to Daum’s glory days of the past century.
A Brief History of Daum Glass
The story of Daum art glass begins in the late 1870s, when Jean Daum inherited a struggling glassworks in Nancy, France, as part of a repayment owed to him by a debtor. Jean’s sons, Auguste and Antonin, took charge of the failing factory’s operations and facilitated its transformation into a leading glass producer. This renovation was complete by 1893, when the Daum brothers debuted some of their cameo glass in the Art Nouveau style at the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago that year.
The showcase of these spectacular cameo glass samples garnered Daum international attention and elevated the status of the brand to the likes of Art Nouveau era contemporaries Louis Comfort Tiffany and Emile Gallé. What distinguished Daum from these competing studios, however, was their consistent desire to experiment and innovate in their designs. Manipulating the finish of their pieces through variations in acid-etching and wheel-turning, Daum conjured a remarkable array of art glass that carried the brand to both its receipt of a ‘Grand Prix” Medal at the Parisian Exposition Universelle in 1900 and its continued success into the early years of the 20th century.
It was this spirit of innovation that spurred Daum’s investment in the method of pâte-de-verre, or “glass paste,” casting in 1906. A technique with roots dating back to the ancient world, pâte-de-verre works incorporated crushed bits of glass that were placed in a mold and then heated and compressed into a variety of refined forms. Daum’s revival of this historic technique contributed to the brand’s exploration of Art Deco styles in the subsequent decade, a further testament to Daum’s abilities to accommodate current trends.
This inventive energy continued to define Daum’s designs for the duration of the twentieth century. From collaborating with artists such as Salvador Dali or Philippe Stark to exploring lead crystal techniques in the latter half of the century, Daum persevered where many other glassworks failed in their ability to respond to the desires of their clientele while also maintaining an exceptional level of quality throughout. This enduring craftsmanship is so remarkable that it is commemorated in its own 600-piece collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Nancy, France, and it has also made Daum a timeless favorite among art glass collectors. Read on to learn about the categories of Daum art glass that are trending among today’s collectors.
Daum Cameo Glass Pieces
As one of the most popular modes of art glass production in the late years of the 19th century, cameo glass was so named because it created the textural and coloristic illusion of a relief-carved cameo. Each vessel rendered in this technique was made from multiple layers of glass, and then the exterior layer would be carved away to reveal silhouettes conveyed from the next layer of glass underneath. This treatment gave the surface of Daum’s cameo glass pieces remarkable dynamism and rivaled those created by contemporary Emile Gallé, who had been a pioneer in the style. When Gallé died in the early years of the 20th century, Daum assumed a leading role in cameo glass production, and these turn-of-the-century designs are some of those most coveted by today’s collectors.
Image 1: An Enameled and Gilt-Decorated Daum Glass Vase, circa 1900
Christie’s New York, New York (8 March 2012)
Realized Price: $56,250
Image 2: Important Daum Enamel Cameo Glass ‘Mushroom’ Vase
A.B. Levy’s, Palm Beach, Florida (30 March 2013)
Realized Price: $31,200
Image 3: Daum Enameled Cameo Glass Bowl, circa 1905
Christie’s New York, New York (8 March 2012)
Realized Price: £64,900
Image 4: A Daum Fire-Polished Carved Cameo Glass Vase
Christie’s Amsterdam, The Netherlands (24 May 2005)
Realized Price: €17,349.40
Image 5: A Daum Nancy cameo glass Fuchsia vase, circa 1900
Bonhams New York, New York (11 June 2015)
Realized Price: $13,750
Daum Pâte-de-verre Pieces
Glass paste production was popular throughout the ancient world but was revived during Daum’s day as an innovative means to create intricate and multicolored glass pieces. In the process, the ground glass, pulverized to the texture of sugar, is mixed with a binding agent to create a paste that can then be pressed into a mold and fired. The intricacies of the molds, combined with the refined nature of the paste, allowed for pâte-de-verre Daum pieces to be richly detailed and carefully colored though subtle tonal variations that serve as a natural progression from Daum’s earlier cameo glass.
Image 6: Daum/Salvador Dali Pate de Verre Crystal
Auction Galleries of the Palm Beaches, West Palm Beach, Florida (12 January 2015)
Realized Price: $3,250
Image 7: Daum pate de verre figural statue
Clars Auction Gallery, Oakland, California (19 March 2017)
Realized Price: $1,936
Image 8: Daum pate de verre figural sculpture of a horse
Clars Auction Gallery, Oakland, California (15 October 2017)
Realized price: $1,200
Image 9: 2 Daum Pate de Verre “Iris” Vases
Kaminski Auctions, Beverly, Massachusetts (17 May 2015)
Realized Price: $1,300
Image 10: A Daum Pâte-de-verre fish vase, late 20th century marks
Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas (23 February 2013)
Realized Price: $900
Image 11: Daum Nancy Crystal Pate De Verre Peacock
Shapiro Auctioneers, Woollahra, Sydney, Australia
Estimate: AUD800 – AUD1,200
Realized Price: AUD900
Daum Art Deco Designs
Though more renowned generally for their Art Nouveau styles, Daum also experimented with the aesthetic of the Art Deco era in the early decades of the 20th century. Clean geometry and lucid colors define this era of Daum’s production, which reminds collectors of how adept its designers were at capitalizing on contemporary trends.
Image 12: Art Deco Daum Glass Vase, Nancy, France
Grogan & Company, Boston, Massachusetts (22 March 2015)
Realized Price: $6,000
Image 13: A Daum Art Deco Smoky-Green Glass Vase
Christie’s London, United Kingdom (23 November 2010)
Realized Price: £5,000
Image 14: Daum Pate de Verre Figural Sculpture, Executed in the Art Deco Taste
Clars Auction Gallery, Oakland, California (21 May 2017)
Realized Price: $1,260
Image 15: A Daum Art Deco Bowl
Freeman’s, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (12 November 2002)
Realized Price: $352
Daum Decorative Lighting
In addition to their lines of smaller vases, vessels, and bowls, Daum also undertook designs for large-scale lamps and lighting fixtures. This extension of Daum’s offerings into the realm of lighting seems a natural progression as it served as another way for the brand to showcase the rigorous detail and luminous effect of their glasswork. Many of these lamps also feature the outstanding metal work of Edgar Brandt (1880-1960), who was considered one of the most accomplished artist-blacksmiths of his generation.
Image 16: Daum Etched and Enameled Glass Rain Lamp, circa 1900
Heritage Auctions, Dallas, Texas (21 November 2014)
Realized Price: $43,750
Image 17: Daum Nancy
Aguttes, Paris, France (4 March 2011)
Realized Price: €27,262
Image 18: Daum à Nancy
HVMC – Hôtel des Ventes de Monte-Carlo (15 December 2015)
Realized Price: €15,500
Image 19: Daum Overlaid and Etched Glass Table Lamp, circa 1905
Christie’s, New York (26 March 2009)
Realized Price: $12,000
Image 20: A Pair of Art Deco Style Bronze and Glass Floor Lamps after the Original ‘La Tentation’ by Edgar Brandt and Daum
Sotheby’s Australia, Melbourne, Australia (30 October 2012)
Realized Price: AUD10,800
Image 21: Edgar Brandt (French, 1880-1960) and Daum An Art Deco Wrought Iron and Step
Bonham’s London (17 June 2015)
Realized Price: £7,500
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