Leune, and a brace of exotic birds
This flamboyant Art Deco vase is a perfect example of the taste for enamelled glass in France in the 1920s. It was made by Leune, a Paris glass factory that was in business from around 1900 to 1930.
What strikes you first are the ‘hot’ vitrified colours. Those blues and greens, that yellow. Then you take in the layers of thick enamel… the bold lines of the birds (kingfishers, perhaps, or something more exotic?)… All in all, we think it’s a bit of a wow.
Just after WWI, Leune appears to have been something of a Daum offshoot. The director was Paul Daum, the son of Auguste Daum, of l’École de Nancy fame. Documents show the factory bought in clear glass shapes from Cristallerie Daum. Leune’s craftmen then painted the glass in cold enamel, with naturalistic forest and lakeside scenes. It was all a rather Art Nouveau affair. But tastes were changing. The rise of the Art Deco movement called for something more vibrant and exciting!
The Heiligenstein years
Auguste Heiligenstein was an immensely gifted artist (some of his finest work features in museums around the world, and if you see it, you’ll understand why.)
From 1923 to 1926, Heiligenstein worked as Leune’s artistic director. He quickly brought a new brilliance to the brand. Heiligenstein drew the designs, and the workers at Leune reproduced them on glass. Now, though, they fired the enamels instead of using cold painting. This technique opened up wonderful possibilities of colour and light – which brings us rather neatly back to the vase. Forget flowers. Its only purpose is to be admired and enjoyed… just as it was when it was bought in the 1920s.