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Nancy, France


Verrerie de Nancy

Daum was founded in 1878 by Jean Daum. After settling in Nancy, Jean came in contact with a group of industrialists who wanted to start a glassworks called "Verrerie Sainte Catherine" (1875) and he was persuaded to become a cofinancer. At first the glassworks produced glass for watches, mirrors and tables. When the factory came in financial problems, already in 1876, Jean decided to withdraw from the sinking ship. His copartners however weren't able to refund his share. Jean saw no other way than to take over the complete works of his compagnons and bought them out. He altered the name of the factory to "Verrerie de Nancy".

His sons, Auguste and Antonin Daum, took over the glassworks after their father's death in 1885. From this moment on the glassworks was named Daum Frères.

Joining the art nouveau movement

Antonin Daum, the creative mind of the family, became inspired by the glass of Gallé which he had seen at the Paris exhibition in 1889. The glassworks therefor changed its production to art glass and attracted a lot of skillful artisans who used etching, engraving, wheel carving, gilding and enamelling to decorate the glass items made by the Daum factory.

Daum vase (1893)

Daum vase (1893)

Their first line of Art Nouveau vases were displayed at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893. These vases were made from opaque glass with details added in coloured enamels and backgrounds often wheel-engraved with small circles (martelage). As with most Art Nouveau glass from this period the designs mostly consisted of organic and floral figures.

Technical innovation

The glassworks of Daum has been associated with technical innovation as well as outstanding artistic creativity. An example of a new technique introduced by Daum is vitrification, also known as jade glass. Jade glass was created by reheating coloured glass powder resulting in a cloudy, mottled type of glass.

Another complex technique developed by Daum is called intercalary decoration which was patented by Daum in 1898. A basic glass vessel is decorated with glass powder or enameled and then reheated, after which a new layer of glass is blown over it. In this way various decorations can be created at varying depths within the vessel wall.

Paul Daum

In 1909 Paul Daum became the new director of Daum Frères, following in the footsteps of his father Auguste. Under the supervision of Paul the Daum works gradually changed its designs to a more robust and stylized format. Floral and natural patterns were replaced by abstract, often geometric forms.

During the first World War Daum closed its art department and only manufactured medical glass. After the war, in the 1920s, Daum produced the majority of its art deco items. Another product line that became increasingly important in this period was that of lamps, often sophistically decorated from metal frame to glass shell.

A great influence on Daum's designs were the works of Maurice Marinot. His work was so evolutionary that it prompted Paul Daum to design objects in clear coloured glass with bold, grainy, acid-etched patterns. Vessels from this period varied greatly in thickness and flat surfaces were contrasted with rough, textured ones. An example of a bowl heavily influenced by Marinot is shown below (3rd picture from the left).

Unfortunately Paul Daum died in the second World War in a concentration camp. But the factory remained in production and was still in the hands of the heirs of the founder Jean Daum.

Verreries D'Art Lorrain

Pierre D'Avesn was employed by Daum to design and supervise production of the Croismare Glassworks near Luneville which Daum took over in 1927 and renamed Verreries D'Art Lorrain. The purpose of buying this factory was to compete with Lalique and others for the lucrative market of Department Stores and large-scale retailers, particularly in the USA.

Art glass produced by Daum for this market, either at the Lorrain glassworks or another one they called "Verreries de Belle-Etoile" was signed either "P.d'Avesn" or "Lorrain" or "Val" (company initials), or "Verreries de Belle-Etoile". Due to the great depression in Europe and the US, the Lorrain glassworks was closed in 1932.

Michel Daum

Michel Daum, son of Antonin Daum, already worked in the Daum factory in the year 1925, where he started as a chemist and engineer. After the death of Paul, Michel took over his function as chief designer. The Daum company changed its production to tableware and ornamental glass, also shifting from colored glass to clear crystal.

The best known artistic pieces from this period (1940-1960) are probably the bird sculptures made of clear crystal.

Reviving Pate de Verre

In 1965 Michel retired and Jacques Daum became president of the company. He appointed Jean-Pierre Demarchi as artistic director who became famous for his reintroduction of pâte de verre, a technique Daum had been using since 1906 but had gotten out of fashion after the 2nd world war.

Daum launched a collection of newly designed glass sculptures all in limited edition. A large group of famous artists, among whom were Salvador Dali and Bernard Citroën, contributed to the design of these sculptures.

Present day

Currently the Daum company is still producing lots of stylish designs for the luxury market. It's specialized in art objects, mostly made from cast glass and lead crystal.


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