Daum, Tristan and Isolde vase, 1897
I’m 38 cm tall with a broad girth. I only have one foot, but fortunately it’s stable. My neck is narrow but you can see my pink and orange interior. Elegant, isn’t it ? But that’s not the only colour used to dress me up! Take a look at my attire: soft, blueish clouds pass across a twilight landscape in which two black silhouettes quietly greet each other.
Jacques Gruber, the young artist who made me, is a great romantic with a strong classical culture. Inspired by Wagner’s operas, he chose the mediaeval legend of Tristan and Isolde for me: the two lovers meeting at nightfall and the blossoming of their love … He made me like a Greek vase with black figures on a red background.
If only you knew all that I’ve been through to achieve this result! Starting with molten sand, blown and rolled in coloured pigments, I was wrapped in three layers of coloured glass. I was then locked away for several days to return to a reasonable temperature. Once cooled, I appeared in the light of day: pink and orange on the inside but totally black on the outside. Covered in a thick, pungent black paste – Judean bitumen –, I was plunged several times into baths of hydrofluoric acid to bring out my colours … Yes, ladies and gentlemen, several times! Once cleaned and highly sensitive, I had just begun to recover in mind and body when I was taken in hand by the etcher, who very skilfully but rapidly ran a diamond all over me, chiselling away at my skin. I was terrified that I was going to shatter into thousands of pieces!
Finally, rubbed and polished, one of a kind, I was ready to meet my public as one of the outstanding pieces produced by the Daum factory that were presented at the great international shows and exhibitions. I was exhibited and much commented on at the Brussels exhibition in 1897 !