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“Works of style and good taste”. Artistic and technical innovation at the Verrerie artistique of Saint-Prex

Between 1928 and 1964, the Saint-Prex glassworks (VD), founded in 1911, set up, in parallel with its industrial production of bottles, a so-called ‘artistic’ line which is part of Switzerland’s first-class artistic heritage. In the early years, they mainly developed prototypes. The aesthetics of the Art Nouveau and Art Deco works designed in France and Bohemia were reinterpreted and adapted to a simplified technique based on sandblasting and cold-painting. Around 1930, the glassworks called on artists to develop standard models. With the first advertising brochure, published in 1935, a wide range of products was established, from green glass to gold and silver craquelé glass, as well as various enameled versions. The project’s objective is a census of the main objects preserved, an examination of archival documents, and a study of the technical, formal and stylistic aspects of the works and their contextualization within the 20th century glassmaking and cultural landscape. To complement the written sources, the testimonies of former employees and their descendants give a more personal view of the history of these objects of “style and good taste.”

See illustrations

Fig. 1: Vase, colourless glass, sandblasted, cold painted, pink, green and red, H: 8.5 cm; D: 9 cm, Verrerie artistique of Saint-Prex, VO 109. © Photo: Vitromusée Romont / Erwin Baumgartner.

Fig. 2: 1935, Verreries de St-Prex, Une nouvelle branche d’activité…, Lausanne 1935, p. 19.

Fig. 3: Jug, green glass, handle and foot attached, H: 21.2 cm; D: 11.5 cm, Verrerie artistique of Saint-Prex, VO 74. © Photo: Vitromusée Romont / Erwin Baumgartner.

Fig. 4: Jug, green glass, handle and foot attached, black enamelled, H: 21.2 cm; D: 11.5 cm, Verrerie artistique of Saint-Prex, VO 105. © Photo: Vitromusée Romont / Erwin Baumgartner.

Fig. 5: Jug, green glass, handle and foot attached, crackled silver, H: 21.2 cm; D: 11.5 cm, Verrerie artistique of Saint-Prex, VO 118. © Photo: Vitromusée Romont / Erwin Baumgartner.

Fig. 6: Jug, green glass, handle and foot attached, black and red enamelled, H: 21.2 cm; D: 11.5 cm, Verrerie artistique of Saint-Prex, VO 132. © Photo: Vitromusée Romont / Erwin Baumgartner.

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