Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Unusual Artifacts: The Pâte de Verre Mask

C.I.H. Cros
The Victoria & Albert Museum

Pâte de verre essentially means “glass paste.” This was a new technique in the 1890s when this interesting mask was made. César Isidore Henry Cros (1840-1907) was the first to use powdered colored glass in the creation of small-scale polychrome sculptures. Cros found inspiration in a discoveries from ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt and emulated those archaeological styles in his work.

Cros produced his first pâte de verre in workshops in his own home home in 1890. In 1891, he was offered a spare kiln at the Sèvres National Manufactory. That’s where he made this mask. Though he took the spot at the manufactory, Cros was loathe to reveal his secret process and kept his methods as private as possible. Nevertheless, he influenced an entire generation of glass makers who sought to emulate his style and technique. This mask, made sometime between 1891 and 1895, is signed Cros in enamel. 

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