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Daum is a luxurious French crystal studio based in Nancy, France. Daum dates back to 1878 when Jean Daum, a lawyer with no glassmaking experience, took the Sainte-Catherine glassworks in Nancy as payment for an outstanding debt. His two sons soon became partners in the business, August in 1879 and Antonin in 1887. August’s management and Antonin’s creative talent gave the business a new economic and artistic dimension, production broadened from simple tableware and drinking glasses to acclaimed and highly coveted decorative art glass pieces. There have been four major eras in the art glass produced by Daum, namely Art Nouveau, Art Deco, Crystal, and Nouveau Pate-de-verre. Each change in style coincided with a new generation of the Daum family taking over, and keeping the company abreast of current taste and fashions.
During the Universal Exhibition of 1900 Daum was awarded a Grand Prix medal. Daum glass became more elaborate, acid etching (by Jacques Gruber) was often combined with carving, enameling and engraving on a single piece of glass to produce creative glass master-pieces. The most complicated creations also feature applied glass elements, such as handles and ornamental motifs in naturalistic forms. The Daum brothers quickly moved on to become one of the major forces in the Art Nouveau movement, seriously rivalling Galle, so much so that when Émile Gallé died in 1904 they became the leaders in the field of decorative glass.
In 1906 Daum revived pate de verre (glass paste), an ancient Egyptian method of glass casting, resulting in crystal pieces that look like jewels carved into shape. By the 1930s Daum's window panels used pâte de verre for richness instead of leaded or painted glass. Today Daum still used this method to produce their pieces. All the fine pieces are still handmade. In 1965 another generation of Daum's took over. They invited several world- famous sculptors, designers, and master glass artists, to design special limited editions for the company. Salvador Dali was the first, Cesar the second, and the series has been an outstanding success. Later, Daum worked with hundreds of artists and designers such as Arman, Hilton McConnico, Richard Texier, Emilio Robba and Philippe Druillet.
Daum art glass remains highly collectable. A Daum overlay glass lamp made in collaboration with bronze maker Louis Majorelle fetched $1.76 million at Sotheby’s New York in a 1989 auction. More than 600 glasswork items are in the Daum Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts of Nancy, France.