Etling glass - a brief history

It is not easy to establish the year in which Edmond Laurent Etling was born. His age when he opened his shop at 29 Rue de Paradis in Paris France, is also a mystery too. However, he played an important role with the development of the Art Deco style and he had the vision and the ability to promote and to cater for a long list of noted designers of decorative arts during the 1920s – 1930s

The majority of Etling glass was produced by his own team of glass-workers based at the Cristalleries et Verreries de Choisy-le-Roi Réunies, in the outskirts of Paris. “Choisy-le-Roi” is a place-name worth remembering. The glass producing factories based there were responsible for creating the finest opalescent glass in Europe during the Art Deco period, and practically every French glass designing artist used the facilities that were based there at some point in their working career. In the absence of any known Etling catalogues being available, the Choisy-le-Roi catalogues of the period, are known to document most (but not all) examples of Etling glass patterns, and in the absence of an Etling signature/maker mark, it is often the glass itself which can attribute a piece to be Etling, as it is wrong to assume that all Etling glass will be numbered or signed.

Etling used various designers and certain examples of their work will carry their name, but again this is by no means common. It is thought that: Georges Béal designed bowls, dishes and vases featuring stylized plants & floral motifs; Géza Hiecz, animal, birds & fish figurines, and Lucille Sevin (and her husband Jean Theodore Delabassé) vases & sculptures of females. The above cannot be cast in stone, as Béal for example, also designed several book-end patterns that featured birds as the decorative element, and other sculptures too. Etling also used the talents of other freelance glass designers and/or showcased their work at his Salon in Paris. Geneviève Granger and Romain de Tirtoff (Erte) are both thought to have produced certain pattern-types for Etling…

Etling, was at the forefront from the onset of the Art Deco period. He was instrumental with its development and as such he would have been well aware of not only his competitors but also those that he could rely upon for introducing new artisans. He had his own Artistic Director a Mr Dreyfuss who himself knew just about every known/noted high-quality designer of the period. Etling, also had his own metal-working foundry, from where he could have certain glass designs combined with metal. Marcell Guillard also had a huge influence on Etling. Guillard was another important artist/atelier in Paris, well known for its equally outstanding glass & ceramics, and several Etling items carried the atelier maker mark: EDITIONS ETLING

During the late 1920s Lucien Willmetz, also showcased a successful line of glass liquor decanter bottles “Flacons Liquers” at Etling’s shop and these items had Etling paper labels. Lucien Willmetz, took over the company of Robj, when its founder Jean Born was killed in a car accident in 1922. Before his death, Robj, had a strong connection with Marcel Guillard and all these Parisian artisans were leading members of the French modern-art movement, which of course Etling played a significant role in creating. Etling also retailed at this time, certain examples of Cameo Glass produced by Loetz/Richard and these too were paper labelled by Etling.

Etling, had no direct competition as such, and both Lalique and Sabino for example had their own niche in the market place for their opalescent glass in particular. However, Sabino and Etling’s sales were affected in France by the interest of Verlys, and particularly once Pierre D’Avesn became the Artistic Director and designer at Verlys. With Sabino having an Italian surname, and Etling (and his glassworkers) being Jewish, the name Verlys was instantly recognisable to the patriotic French: Verre (glass in French) and Anderlys (Les Anderlys in France) had meaning, whereas Sabino and Etling, had not. Sabino, therefore began signing several of his glass patterns: Vernox and Verart. Etling on the other hand used Verlux and these relatively limited pattern-types were also manufactured for Etling at Choisy-le-Roi but are not thought to have been retailed from his shop.

Being Jewish, resulted with Etling, his entire family and his glass workers being rounded-up and sent to Nazi concentration camps where they met their deaths during WWII and so all that is left are the incredible works of art that he gave us. It is not known how many moulds may still exist, however Cristalleries de Sèvres (now Sèvres Crystal) have on occasion produced several of the original female sculptures by Lucille Sevin. These were produced in matt-satin frosted glass only and will generally be signed by Sèvres in moulded block capital letters and the original Etling pattern number.

Contributed by ritzyvintage - C.B.

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