Amalric Walter and his pâte de verre dancers

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Even before the discoveries of Tanagra, a charming Greek figurine depicting a veiled dancer was frequently seen in the workshops, reproduced in plaster, terracotta, imitation of bronze, ivory or even in glass. It is undoubtedly the prettiest known variant of this beloved type of the ancients.
Amalric Walter too realized some women figurines inspired by this trend, as you may see below.
„For many years, this figurine symbolized the so-called “Tanagra” statuettes that enjoyed huge popularity throughout Europe in the late nineteenth century. It is, however, an earlier work, heralding the Tanagra style, but created by Athenian artists around 375-350 BCE. The dancing girl may be a bride or a nymph, and the figure probably had a religious significance, although her exact identity remains a mystery.
This figurine, named for its first owner (Auguste Titeux), was discovered in 1846 in one of the trenches dug at the foot of the Propylaea or entrance gateway on the north side of the Acropolis, not far from the grotto dedicated to Pan. It was nonetheless celebrated in the nineteenth century as a masterpiece of “Tanagra” sculpture – a type of figurine named for the central Greek settlement where many examples were found. The statuette was a source of inspiration for countless artists, who made copies in every size and medium, from bronze, earthenware and glass paste to watercolor. Modern analyses of the clay, and the stylistic similarity between this piece and a relief of nymphs in the Acropolis museum (no. 6064), tend to support the hypothesis that it was made in Attica – a theory already formulated in the nineteenth century. ”  (
Walter Nancy Titeux Dancer
„The ample and fine drapery envelops the young woman almost entirely, leaving only the lower edge of a pleated tunic. The same light fabric also frames the face and front of the hair as a narrow hood, without hampering the attachment of the neck or the movement of the head, which bends to the side with modest and feminine grace. There is nothing of the provocative attitude of a professional dancer. The look lowered is all attentive to follow the action of the left foot, carried forward to draw the step. One sees under the stuff the model of the right arm, spreading a little the garment, so as to leave the movements more freedom, while the other arm, brought back on the hip, strives to maintain the flying mass of the folds, which from there escapes in undulating and cadenced waves. If in this lively attitude, of which all the parts respond and balance each other with a charming rhythm, the drapery point the juvenile forms which it pretends to cover, but without taking anything away from the decency of the poe or expression. ” (La danseuse voilée d’Auguste Titeux (pl. IV) by Léon Heuzey, Bulletin de correspondance hellénique  Année 1892  Volume 16  Numéro 1  pp. 73-87)

Amalric Walter (Sèvres 1870 – Lury-sur-Arnon 1959) graduated ‘Ecole de Céramique de Sèvres, which for him is both the school and the laboratory. Here, like his predecessors Henry Cros and Albert Dammouse, he works finding the technique of pâte de verre. After tests and experiments with his professor and friend Gabriel Levy, Walter gets to the amalgam made up of finely ground glass powder, dyes, metal oxides, and the mysterious “binder”, always kept secret by the teachers who found the famous recipe of glass paste.
Walter and Levy present a few pieces at the Exposition des Beaux Arts in Paris in 1903, models were provided by the sculptors Eugène Delagrange (1872-1920) and Denis Puech (1854-1942); even if the pasta is not yet perfect, nebulous and opaque, there is interest that comes, including an offer of Daum for a collaboration. Walter and Levy moved to Nancy, where Daum provides them with a well-equipped workshop. Lévy not it is settling, but for Walter it is the ideal environment to develop a special glass paste by soft tones, yellows and ochres, the orange and browns, greens and blues. Henry Berge provides models, he is the chief decorator and perfect interpreter of the conceptions of Antonin Daum. Between Walter and Bergé is established a friendship that will last a lifetime. Up to 1910 other projects are also provided by Charles Schneider (at the time collaborator of Daum).
At Daum’s he develops more than 100 models between 1904 and 1914, consisting of vases, cups, saw few, bookends, presse-papiers, inkwells, boxes, candy boxes, ashtrays and accessories for the women’s clothing.

Among the first works produced there are the female figurines, adaptations of classical statue of ancient Greece, the famous Tanagra, of which the same Antonin Daum Nancy brings to the plaster models after returning from a trip to the Museum of Vienna.
Walter opens his atelier in 1919 in Nancy and continues the work he started at the Daum Freres manufature. Most of the models are provided by Henry Bergé, but healso works with sculptors as sculptors Jean Bernard, Jules Cayette, Jules Cheret, Marcel Corette, Joe Descomps, P. Dubery, Alfred Finot, Henri Mercier, André Houillon, P. Geno and Lejan.

Among the statues they are to remember the precious Buddha, the fauns, Isadora Duncan, dance and wrapped in voluptuous veils, busts and heads of fanculle. Walter also proceed to the realization of most of the models for Daum already performed before the war.
The evolution of color help to separate the two periods, after 1919 the colors are more strong, making almost surreal objects: a green bird, a black butterfly and a blue fish. Walter’s glass pastes have a particularly high weight, due to the percentage of lead used in the dough, which reaches about 50%.
With the war coming up in 1940, unfortunately every trace of Walter’s work is lost.

During the entire period (1904-1914) of cooperation with Daum, the signature on the objects is that of Daum Nancy with the Cross of Lorraine and rarely there is also Walter; after the war the signature, engraved in the paste, is A WALTER NANCY, almost always followed by the name of the sculptor who provided the model.
(credits to Mr. Franco Borga

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