An Extremely Rare Pair of Cameo Glass Vases by La Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat.
The vases are etched on opposing sides with classical figures of Dionysus and Ariadne and anthemion decoration bordered by Greek-key and leaf-tip banding, heightened in gilt. The blocked out background of the motifs, the half-tone effects and the satin finish represent the most refined and elaborate of etching techniques.
For the 1867 Exposition Universelle, Baccarat prepared a series of vases based on the cult of Bacchus, using neo-classical figurative motifs inspired by antique bas-reliefs and the Borghesi vase in the Louvre. The vases were made from opaline glass cased in cobalt blue or amber, a process whereby two layers of differently coloured crystal were overlaid then etched or cut to reveal the design. Also included in this series was a related punch bowl cased with blue crystal now in the Corning Museum of Glass, New York, and a pair of similar cameo vases with amber etchings, illustrated by Jean-Louis Curtis, in his book ‘Baccarat’, p.246.
A single example of this vase or wine cooler is in the collection of the Portland Museum of Art, Maine. Bequest of Sylvia D. Greenberg, 2002.11.141.
Baccarat is the world’s leading manufacturer of crystalware. Founded in 1764 under the patronage of Louis XV as Renault et Compagnie, the firm became known as the Compagnie des Cristalleries de Baccarat during the nineteenth Century.
The company began to flourish at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, as the effects of the Napoleonic Wars abated, and its reputation was consolidated by the official approval from various sovereigns and heads of state. At the 1823 Exposition Nationale in Paris, it was Baccarat’s crystalware that Louis XVIII was said to have particularly admired, appreciating its ‘beautiful workmanship’.