This masterful cameo glass vase is by the brilliant French artist Émile Gallé. The vase is designed in the distinctive Art Nouveau manner that flourished at the turn of the twentieth century, the beautifully formed foliage and peacock feathers being emblematic of the style. Gallé is one of Art Nouveau's most celebrated practitioners, and one of the most accomplished craftsmen in the medium of glass.
The current vase depicts Lake Como in Northern Italy: the view is of the lake, over a silhouetted balustrade, as the sun sets and reddens the sky. The pale blue mountains are visible in the distance, below which sits the forested horizon and the light waters of the lake. Gallé frames the scene with repoussoir trees in the foreground, their dark masses, shown contre-jour, providing a sense of depth to the landscape beyond. The colour palette employed is sumptuous, with luscious reds and oranges and cool blues predominating.
The elements of the scene are wrought using the cameo etching technique: glasses of various colours have been fused together and subsequently etched and carved to produce a textured, sculptural, polychromatic composition. The technique is ancient, having flourished during Ancient Roman times and finding perhaps its fullest expression during the period within which Gallé worked.