Like Gallé, Nicolas was intensely interested in botany and he drafted many floral designs for the firm. The watercolors the Rakow Library acquired are all delicate curves and subtle color striations—in one, a loosely gathered bouquet spills over the canvas, pink-tipped carnation petals brushing against green buds. The Library’s drawings, possibly designs for enameled or cameo glass, are attributed to the period just before the 1900 Paris exhibition, where Nicolas earned a bronze medal for his work for Gallé.
Nicolas worked for Gallé’s firm until after World War I, when he opened his own glass decorating studio in Nancy, continuing to create engraved, etched, and enameled designs with floral and natural motifs. He also decorated glass made by the Cristalleries de Saint-Louis for their D’Argental line of art glass. Nicolas added a Lorraine cross on pieces he designed for D’Argental to indicate they were his work.In 1936, Nicolas was awarded the Meilleur Ouvrier de France, a high honor given to an artisan who achieves great skill in his craft.
Nicolas won honors, as well, at the 1925 and 1937 Paris expositions and continued to design glass until his death in 1952.These drawings, purchased with funds from the Fellows, represent the work of a successful designer in his own right, as well as add to our special collections on Gallé and to our rich holdings of turn-of-the-century decorative arts design.