Designer: Georges Hoentschel (French, 1855–1915); Probable Maker: Emile Grittel (French, 1870–1953)
H. 44 1/2 in. (113 cm)
Purchase, Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Foundation Gift, 2007 (2007.27)
This vase is one of a pair that was exhibited in the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. The vases were featured prominently in the pavilion of the Union Central des Arts Décoratifs, the forerunner of today's Musées des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Both the vases and the pavilion were designed by Georges Hoentschel, an architect, interior decorator, art collector, and ceramist. Hoentschel's designs for the 1900 fair were in full-blown Art Nouveau style, which was then at the height of its popularity in France. The fascination of Art Nouveau with the natural world and its emphasis on creating a sense of movement are evident in the design of this monumental vase. It is awash with aquatic motifs, and its mottled green and sand-colored glaze reinforces the marine theme.
Hoentschel found inspiration for his Art Nouveau designs in French art of the eighteenth century, and he avidly collected decorative arts and architectural elements from that period. He eventually sold his collection of some 1,500 French works of art to J. Pierpont Morgan, who then gave it to the Metropolitan Museum. These works became the nucleus of the Museum's decorative arts department, and thus it is especially fitting that this vase created by Hoentschel himself should enter the collection.