Baccarat

Modified on 2013/01/16 14:53 by Bart — Categorized as: Glassworks

Location

Paris, place des Etats-Unis
France

History

Before 1900

In 1764 King Louis XV of France gave Bishop de Montmorency-Laval of Metz permission to found a glassworks in the village of Baccarat located in Lorraine in eastern France. In 1816 the company was bought by Aimé-Gabriel d'Artogues, owner of Voneche glassworks, who immediately invested in a new crystal oven for the production of high quality household glass. Until then, the glassworks mainly produced windowpanes, mirrors and stemware.

Baccarat factory on postcard

Baccarat factory on postcard

In 1822 D'Artigues sold the glassworks and the new owners set up the Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat (keeping Voneche as part of the name until 1843). In 1823 King Louis XVIII of France commissioned a set of stemware. Since then, Baccarat has created stemware for the Kings Charles X, Louis-Philippe, the Emperor Napoleon III, and the French presidents.

Baccarat soon became the foremost glassworks in France. Its craftsmen excelled at engraving, cutting and acid-etching and after Francois-Eugène de Fontenay joined the company (1838) it also added opaline glass and cased cut glass to its portfolio.

Another important production line for which Baccarat became famous (until today) was that of glass paperweights. The company began producing paperweights in 1846, starting with the Italian-inspired millefiori style, but quickly extending the range to include sulfide paperweights featuring real flowers, insects, and other objects enclosed in glass. Toward the end of the century, Baccarat paperweights often featured cameo portraits of its famous customers.

 Large candelabra designed for Paris exhibition 1855

Large candelabra designed
for Paris exhibition 1855

At the first world fair in Paris (1855), Baccarat won the gold medal by showing the public a 17-foot-tall candelabra and a 23-foot-tall crystal water fountain. A remake of the candelabra is shown in the picture to the left. This reproduction is nearly 12 feet in height and 8 1/2 feet in diameter and counts over 9000 crystals, 157 lights and weighs over 1,400 pounds. These reproductions are estimated to sell for $850,000 to $1.1 million.

Baccarat won more gold medals at the Paris exhibitions of 1867 and 1878. At the end of the 19th century new remote markets opened up for Baccarat and the company obtained lots of orders from countries like Russia, Mexico and India. As a result Baccarat opened up trading-posts all over the world.

1900-2000

The first few decades of the 20th century were dominated by the art glass of Daum Frères, Lalique and Schneider. Baccarat did not adapt to these new techniques and did not really follow the esthetic standards of Art Nouveau and Art Deco and so, as a consequence, Baccarat designs from this period never did receive a lot of attention.

Baccarat however employed a highly skilled designer during this period: Georges Chevalier (1894-1987) graduated at the National College of Decorative arts in 1913 who became Baccarat's main designer from 1916. He designed the Baccarat-Christofle Pavilion for the Paris exhibition of 1925, a magnificent 3-meter high chandelier representing a waterfall, which was purchased for Sydneys Royal Theater.

After world war II Baccarat expanded its markets abroad, especially the US. It started a new American subsidiary Baccarat Inc. and opened a wholesale shop and a retail boutique in New York. Many of the tableware designs from this period date back to the 1930s and before. New designs came after 1950 when Baccarat started to collaborate more with outside designers, like Emile Gilioli, Bernard Augst, Robert Rigot and Barbarra Berry (product line 2000).

Baccarat today

Today Baccarat still operates as a producer of luxury glass and crystal items. Jewelry - NOT containing glass but (semi)precious stones - has been added to the company's portfolio. The head office is relocated to a "legendary" place situated at 11, place des Etats-Unis in Paris, former mansion of Marie-Laure de Noailles (1902-1970). It also houses a shop and a restaurant.

A new designer has been commisioned, Philippe Starck, who is best known for reviving the brand’s past tradition of black crystal manufacturing.

Related persons

F.E. de Fontenay
George Chevalier


Images

Some examples of both historic and modern Baccarat designs.

Image  Image  Image  Image  Image  Image

Links

Baccarat homepage (international)