The Jack C Richards gallery is primarily devoted to the display of twentieth century and contemporary decorative and fine arts. Some of the oldest works on display in the gallery are Émile Gallé’s floral glass vases, dating from around 1900. Gallé (1846 – 1904) was a French artist at the forefront of the emerging Art Nouveau movement that flourished between 1890 and 1910.
His style, with its emphasis on naturalism and floral motifs, combined with innovative techniques made him one of the pioneering glassmakers of his time. He revolutionised the art of glassmaking by combining ancient techniques, industrial advances, and Japanese-influenced design.
Nature was Gallé’s source of inspiration and he sought to embrace the chaos of nature rather than abstracting and simplifying it. His work plays with the unique properties of glass to reflect the balances of nature – light/dark, birth/death, growth/decay.
By 1910 Art Nouveau was out of style and was followed by the Art Deco movement, exemplified by Rene Lalique’s vases on the opposite side of the gallery.