We have just acquired an outstanding example of an antique Baccarat dated scattered millefiori and Gridel silhouette canes paperweight. This Baccarat design has always been one of my favorite and I’m always delighted when a piece as fine as this one comes along. I must admit I feel it is truly a “must have” in a well rounded paperweight collection. It is the best of Baccarat in so many ways, containing all aspects of great paperweights: historic (date cane), colorful, textural, substantial and whimsical. It contains a veritable menagerie of Baccarat’s famous and distinctive Gridel canes on an exceptional upset muslin ground. Speaking of menagerie, the following is an excerpt from The Glass Menagerie: A Study of Silhouette Canes in Antique Paperweights by John Hawley recounting the famous story of how the Baccarat silhouette canes came into being.
The best account of this can be found in the November 1955 Bulletin of the Paperweight Collectors Association which featured an article by J. de Poncins, then General Manager of the Cristalleries de Baccarat. To quote:
“It all happened in 1846. In a corner of the family living room, an eight-year-old boy was making animal cutouts of black paper.” This boy was Emile Gridel, the nephew of Jean-Baptiste Toussaint, the general manager of Baccarat. Upon entering the room and observing the work of his nephew, he apparently saw the potential of these simple black profiles as unique design elements suitable for inclusion in millefiori paperweights and immediately confiscated the cut-outs.”
The piece contains a colorful array of assorted complex canes, including a pink flower picture cane, and the Gridel silhouette canes of a butterfly, a deer, a pelican, a pigeon, a horse, a rooster, a goat, a dog, and a squirrel, on white upset muslin, with several bits of colored filigree. “B 1848” signature/date cane. Diameter 3 1/8”.
P.S. I highly recommend John Hawley’s book The Glass Menagerie: A Study of Silhouette Canes in Antique Paperweights for a very delightful and informative read.
Posted by Suzanne Schaefer
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