Copyright 2005 Frank Andrews — Glass Home — Ysart Related Glassmakers Menu — Contact: Contact
by Raoul Arantes
Edited by Mary Houston-Lambert - 2002
This article originally appeared in Ysartnews 3 - September 1987
Charles Schneider was born in Chateau-Thierry, near Paris, on 23rd February 1881. At an early age he moved with his family to Nancy, the artistic centre of France, where he later studied at “L’Ecole des Beaux Arts”. He was a talented student and he used his abilities to engrave medals using his own designs. After his military service, from 1901 to 1902, he specialised in the art of glass and stone sculpture.
His brother, Ernest Schneider, started working for Daum in 1903, where he was an important designer(4). Two years later Charles joined the factory as a self-employed designer, while continuing his studies in Paris.
In 1909, the brothers decided to start their own business and bought a small glass factory, specialising in electric light bulbs(1), in association with a friend Henri Wolf, at Epinay-sur-Seine. This factory was known as ‘Schneider Freres et Wolf’(2) and it operated up to 1914, when the brothers joined the army; the factory appears to have been closed until they were demobbed in 1917. The factory re-opened in 1917 under the new name of ‘Societé Anonyme des Verreries Schneider’. At this time, public taste still favoured the Art Nouveau style, and the factory produced mainly ‘cameo’ glass with floral and animal designs, and vases with applied handles and bubbles. Apart from the introduction of art glass, half of the production was of commercial drinking glasses. In 1918, fire destroyed the studios at Gallé and a group of artists went to Schneider’s to continue their production for Gallé. This period was of great importance to Charles Schneider because he acquired the technique of ‘marqueterie de verre’ from Gallé’s artists. This technique, similar to marquetry in wood, is where the design is carved out of a vase and filled with coloured glass.
By 1920, the factory was working at full capacity making mainly art glass. In 1921, Schneider started new trade marks for his cameo glass, signing it ‘Le Verre Français’ or ‘Charder’. Sometimes a vase or lamp would bear both signatures. The idea was to popularise art glass and make it more accessible to the public. Le Verre Français was mainly sold at department stores like Galérie Lafayette, Le Printemps and Le Bon Marche. Pieces signed ‘Schneider’ were sold by specialised art shops such as Delvaux, Rouard, La Vase Etrusque and Le Grand Depôt. Le Verre Français was made exclusively using the technique of acid etching, which gave good quality at a low price. The technique of wheel engraving through different layers of glass was used only for special pieces.
In 1924, the Schneiders moved to a bigger factory with more modern furnaces, employing more people, and they changed the name again to ‘Verrerie Schneider’. After the 1925 exhibition, various new designs were created and the factory expanded to employ about 500 workers. Blank glass was also supplied to art shops (Delvaux etc.) to be decorated (enamelled, painted etc.) by their own artists, and commissions were received from perfumery companies like Coty. At this time, the company was at its peak due to the good designs of the previous years, such as the new style created in 1920 using new shapes and contrasting colours by applying black foot and handles to brightly coloured vases and coupes, thus giving them a dramatic effect.
Always innovative, Schneider created a new technique of ‘coloured powders’ (3) whereby the pulverised glass was mixed with metal oxides to obtain different colours and then spread on a flat surface. The glass blower would roll a gather of glass on the desired colour, which would melt and adhere to it; he would then blow it a little and repeat with different colours as many times as necessary to obtain the desired colour layers. It was then blown into a mould to give the final shape of vase, which would then be acid etched or wheel engraved, making the contrasting colours visible. Finally, the vase was polished in selected areas of the design to give a contrast of shiny and frosty surfaces. Typical designs were clear bubble or crackled glass between upper and lower bands of art deco motifs in overlay.
Most of Schneider’s art vases and lamps were exported to America. After the Wall Street crash of 1929 demand dwindled and the factory started to decline. During the 1930’s production of art glass was down to a few pieces a day as they concentrated on making simple designs with less colours for the local market. In 1940, during the war, the factory was requisitioned by the German troops and used as a restaurant.
After 1945, Charles Schneider and his son started working for a firm that specialised in enamels, called Soyer. In 1949, they opened a new factory called ‘Schneider’ but most of the designs were the creations of the son, using only crystal and clear glass. Up until Charles Schneider’s death in 1953, only crystal was produced until the factory was closed in 1981.
It is still not known what exactly the movements of the Ysart family were in France, or for whom Salvador was working in Lyon at the time of his son Antoine’s birth.
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