7 things you didn’t know about Argy-Rousseau

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre diffuser, fan form with stylized flowers. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre diffuser, fan form with stylized flowers. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

 

Gabriel Argy-Rousseau (French, 1885-1953) was a sculptor, ceramicist and master glass artisan who played an important role in the early-20th-century art glass movement. His innovative designs, which included vases, lamps, jewelry, bowls and other decorative objects, spanned both the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods.

Here are 10 things you may not have known about Argy Rousseau:

1. G. Argy-Rousseau’s early fascination with chemistry played a significant role in much of his professional career, so much so that at one point he described himself as an “engineer-ceramicist.” This fusion of art and science led to his spearheading the development of the pâte-de-verre (glass paste) casting technique that he utilized to create his glasswork masterpieces.

 

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre vase, ‘Les Loups Dans La Neige,’ circa 1926. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and A.B. Levy’s Palm Beach

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre vase, ‘Les Loups Dans La Neige,’ circa 1926. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and A.B. Levy’s Palm Beach

 

2. His professional name is a combination of his birth name (Joseph-Gabriel Rousseau) and his Greek-born wife’s maiden name (Marianne Argyriades). The two were married in 1913.

3. One of his first “large-scale” showings was at the 1914 Exposition du Salon des Artistes Français (Salon of French Artists), an annual art exhibition held in Paris that launched in 1881.

4. Characteristics of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles of design are prevalent in his work, with elements of nature (flowers, animals), feminine figures and aspects of early mythology appearing most often.

 

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre vase with purple and green stylized flowers. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Treadway Toomey Auctions

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre vase with purple and green stylized flowers. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Treadway Toomey Auctions

 

5. To help spread the word about the unique pieces being created at Société Anonyme des Pâtes de Verre d’Argy-Rousseau — the company the artist formed with gallery and glassworks owner Gustave Moser-Millot — Argy-Rousseau took out advertisements in magazines both within Europe and America. He also invested time and effort in creating leaflets that spoke about the intricate technique used to create the unconventional and illustrious glassworks.

6. With the spirit of invention very much alive in him, Argy-Rousseau filed several patents during WWI for possible use by the military. In addition, as a time- and cost-saving measure, he developed processes that expedited production. However, as the world suffered financial despair in 1929, the market for his exquisite glass declined.

7. Despite attempting to form his own studio following the closure of his partnered company, the shift in interest from Argy-Rousseau’s style of art glass to opalescent glass produced by Lalique and Daum, and the impact World War II dealt on access to raw materials, left Argy-Rousseau somewhat in the same place he began. Before his death in 1953, he finished his career working at a factory producing commercial porcelain, much like the one where he began his career. Today Argy-Rousseau’s designs attract attention at auctions and museums, and his techniques appeal to a new generation of glass artists.

 

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre and metal lamp, ‘Danseuses,’ circa 1900. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Heritage Auctions

Argy-Rousseau pate-de-verre and metal lamp, ‘Danseuses,’ circa 1900. Image courtesy of LiveAuctioneers and Heritage Auctions

 

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Our thanks to Antoinette Rahn and Antique Trader for sharing this article.

Sources Ms. Rahn used in compiling this list include:

http://www.macklowegallery.com; https://www.youtube.com/user/corningmuseumofglass; http://www.artnet.com; http://www.britishmuseum.com