Maurice Marinot’s original career as a Fauvist-style painter had a difficult start. After a visit to a glassworks in Bar-sur-Seine (near Troyes) in 1911, the thirty year-old artist changed direction, going on to devote more than twenty years of his life to research and creation in the field of glassblowing. Following in the wake of the sculptors Joseph Carriès (1855-1894) – who became a ceramicist – and Henry Cros (1840-1907) – who “invented” the pate-de-verre technique – Marinot allowed himself great artistic freedom, developing his technical skill and creativity while approaching his work like a painter or sculptor, aiming to be a “poet of forms.” He took a stance in the contemporary debate on art and objects, protesting against the terms “decorator” and “decorative art.” He considered the glassmaking profession “a game as gratuitous as painting or sculpture.” Marinot claimed that the discovery of “glass in its living state” at the Viard Frères glassworks in Bar-sur-Seine inspired him with an “enthusiasm and a fierce desire for this new game.” With the factory owners’ friendly encouragement, he became a guest, then an apprentice and finally a master in the glassworks. During his long, demanding apprenticeship there, he was able to have his designs produced and to decorate them with painted enamel. His research into form and technique also led him to develop an original use of acid etching which paved the way for the new aesthetic that characterizes his work, with thick, heavy and sensual glass. After 1922, he mastered the whole glassmaking process from design to production, creating a whole new perception of the material: “This material which is born in a struggle, in fire, in smoke, which in turn resists or obeys, which obeys when I force it while respecting its nature.” The sensual, tactile and visual pleasure and simplicity of form are evident, but the power of Marinot’s work also stems from a more intellectual, theoretical dimension: this piece is no longer simply a glass bottle but is a representation of a glass bottle, the idea of a glass bottle embodied in three dimensions and in material, color and transparency by the artist-glassmaker. Marinot created hundreds of glass bottles that were often very similar but never identical, each one giving rise to the next. The minister Louis Barthou (1862-1934) and his wife amassed an exceptional collection of these unique works (mostly from the Galerie Hébrard), forty-three of which they bequeathed to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs. The Golden Parrot bottle with its precious bubbles of color captured in a sober, sensual, geometric but round-edged form is one of the jewels in this collection.
Guillaume Janneau, Le Verre et l’art de Marinot, Paris, H. Floury, 1925.
Jean-Luc Olivié, “L’œuvre en verre,” in Maurice Marinot peintre et verrier, Michel Hoog (under the direction of), exhibition catalogue, Paris, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 1990.