In 1911, Fauvist painter Maurice Marinot visited the glass factory of brothers Eugène and Gabriel Viard in Bar-sur-Seine, France and was at once captured by the possibilities of glass. As a painter, it is not surprising that he chose to enamel designs on his first glass pieces, made that year by the Viard glass factory. Marinot’s glass art was praised early on in 1912 by art critics like Léon Rosenthal, who wrote in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts that his glass was the first in a long while to be truly innovative. In 1913, Marinot turned entirely to glassmaking and began exhibiting and selling his works to those wealthy enough to afford them.
The Museum’s collection of Marinot objects includes several of Marinot’s paintings and glass vessels. The Rakow Library also has a number of Marinot’s design drawings and sketches for glass. These include watercolor sketches for his enameled glass, as well as his later, more geometric and experimental pieces. We have unpublished writings about glassmaking by Marinot, periodicals, books and exhibition notices and catalogs from the 1920s through the 1930s. A lovely little volume written by art critic Guillaume Janneau and published in 1925 includes hand-painted plates of Marinot’s designs for glass.
Unlike René Lalique or other influential artists working in glass at the time, Marinot was interested in producing one of a kind, original pieces of art, rather than designing glass for the wider consumer markets. Marinot began a quest to learn glassblowing from the gaffers at the Viard factory and studied it seriously for many years. For an article Marinot wrote for L’Amour de l’Art (1920) on glassmaking, he even included sketches of his glassmaking tools. The Rakow Library has some of these original sketches, including a blocking tool, shears, and jacks. Health issues forced Marinot to stop working with glass completely in 1937, at which time he once again took up painting.
Once Marinot began to make his own glass, he also began to experiment—purposefully introducing bubbles in the glass and playing with colored glass thickly encased in clear glass. He used hydrofluoric acid to create a rough surface on the glass and expose the colors beneath. His engraved glass vessels are deeply hewn and highly sculptural.
Marinot was a perfectionist, often laboring a year to produce a single piece. Several glass experts, in fact, have identified Marinot as one of the precursors to the Studio Glass movement. Unfortunately, with his limited production, as well as the tragic destruction of his studio during a bombing raid in World War II, Marinot’s glass today is rather rarely encountered.
Given that scarcity, Marinot’s work has not been the subject of many exhibitions. In 2010, the Musée d’Art Moderne de Troyes (where Marinot lived and worked), showcased a large number of Marinot’s glass vessels and art work. You can see the lavishly illustrated exhibition catalog at the Rakow Library, as well as view Marinot’s original sketches and designs, unpublished writings, and even postcards.
Digital images of some of the Museum’s holdings are available by searching the Museum’s collection browser at www.cmog.org/collection/search. The Museum is fortunate to have such a rich collection of design drawings by this unique and fascinating artist, so stop by and explore his lasting legacy at the Rakow Library!