L’Escalier de Cristal
Designer & Art objects Editor
Japanese style clock
Height : 45 cm (17,7 in.) ; Width : 24 cm (9,4 in.) ; Depth : 15 cm (5,9 in.)
Rare rectangular Japanese style clock in chiseled and gilded bronze. It is decorated in its center with a painted ceramic plaque with floral decoration of chrysanthemum branches enhanced with gold on a cream background, all set in a gilded bronze frame surmounted by a threatening dragon.
Rich bronze ornamentation of openwork japanese style motifs, surrounding a bust of a protective guardian.
It rests on double feet joined by a spacer where are placed two Japanese theater characters dressed in traditional costumes. The hours and minutes are indicated by the head and the tail of an articulated dragon.
The reopening of the Japanese harbours to trade with the West in 1853 brought to France many Japanese objects which influenced the artistic creation of that time. But strangely, Japan is not the only origin of this artistic movement named Japonism (Japanese style) : indeed this movement also drew its inspiration in Chinese art, following the Anglo-French military campaign which led to the looting of Beijing Summer Palace. Since then, the influence of Japanism grew up and concerned successively all the fields of art ; first painting, and then little by little furniture, art objects, and even sculpture and architecture. As soon as 1863 Empress Eugénie set the tone by creating her Chinese museum inside Fontainebleau Palace. In 1867, Japan participated for the first time at the Universal Exhibition. It heightened and confirmed this attraction for the East and the circulation of Chinese and Japanese ornamental publications allowed a clientele keen of novelty to renew their interior decoration.
L’Escalier de Cristal was also submitted to this influence and it offered products inspired from Japan. The famous Company collaborated in this aim with various artists such as Gabriel Viardot (1830-1906) or Louis Majorelle (1859-1926). It adapted with great freedom the Japanese motifs to create original works, focusing on small decorative objects such as trays, clocks or vases, in bronze and enamel.
“L’Escalier de Cristal”, an old and famous Parisian firm, specialized in glass products and ceramics but also suggested furniture and bronze sculptures. It was led from 1885 to 1923 by Emile Pannier’s sons, who gave the name of Pannier Frères to the society, located at the corner of Scribe street and Auber street, next to the new built Paris Opera house. Their Japanese style creations were among many others much appreciated by the critics and the public. They were awarded many medals at various exhibitions, such as the Gold medal at the 1900 Paris Universal Exhibition.
Lots of artists participated in that world success, such as Emile Gallé, who gave to Pannier Frères the exclusive rights of some of his models, or François-Eugène Rousseau, who designed many vases and gave the model of his successful Japanese style dining-set as well. This set was made by the Creil et Montereau Manufacture. In the Japanese style furniture branch, many famous makers such as Majorelle from Nancy, Edouard Lièvre or Gabriel Viardot worked for Pannier Frères. Some pieces are to be seen in the greatest museums : the Ermitage in Saint-Petersburg, the Orsay Museum in Paris, the Corning Museum of Glass in New York.
The Maison “L’Escalier de Cristal” was sometimes the exclusive owner of the models and then those pieces were just signed by “L’Escalier de Cristal” or sometimes beside the artist signature. But “L’Escalier de Cristal” was also very creative, completing pieces with superb gilded bronzes, glass or enamelled panels and including often authentic Japanese or Chinese elements.
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