Art Nouveau cameo glass ‘Elephant’ vase by Émile Gallé

By Gallé, Émile (French, 1846-1904)


Vibrantly coloured, this acid-cut cameo vase is a masterclass in French Art Nouveau design, depicting a parade of elephants under towering palm trees.


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This magnificent mold-blown vase is designed in the distinctive Art Nouveau manner which flourished at the beginning of the 20th Century, emblematised here by the distinctive palm leaves and repeating animal design. The piece is by the eminent artist Émile Gallé (1846-1904), a pioneer of French Art Nouveau movement who was renowned for expertly transforming the natural world into glasswork.

The vase depicts a group of elephants triumphantly parading around the vase, underneath the shadow of a group of palm trees. There is a sense of unity within this group of animals, who via trunks and tails interweave themselves together as they march on, touchingly suggesting that this is a family scene. Elephants themselves have additional symbolism as a choice of subject, traditionally being associated with wisdom, protection, and fortune, and in some cultures they are even considered sacred beings. Some of the elephants on Gallé’s vase also have upturned trunks, and this image is thought to dispel negative energy and bring wealth and good fortune when displayed in one’s home. The choice to depict these magnificent beasts goes beyond Gallé’s favour for the natural world and its inhabitants, imbuing this vase with a certain spiritual as well as aesthetic significance.

The vase cleverly employs the cameo-etching technique in its design. Flourishing during ancient Rome and reaching a pinnacle during the period within which Gallé worked, the technique fuses together glasses of various colours which are subsequently etched and carved to produce a textured, sculptural, and polychromatic composition. The technique can be clearly seen in the colour juxtapositions between the dark elephants and vibrant green leaves, the surfaces of which come to life with texture when light is shone through the vase.

The piece is signed ‘Gallé’ on the obverse of the vase.

With its sacred symbolism and stunning Art Nouveau design, this fantastic vase reflects Gallé’s immense talent as a glassware designer and is a piece which would complement any antique collection.


Artist / Maker
By Gallé, Émile (French, 1846-1904)
Country of Origin
Date of Manufacture
Early 20th Century
Early 20th Century
Art Nouveau
Black, Gold, Green


39 cm / 15.4 inches
26 cm / 10.2 inches


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