years have witnessed a remarkable revival of interest in the
belle époque period, from the vogue for costume dramas
to the passion for Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Design, and
art nouveau in particular, have been a key focus of this revival
as the enormous attendance figures at the 2000 Art nouveau
1890-1914 exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum attested.
This special issue considers the contribution of a key protagonist
within this complex historical moment: Émile Gallé.
The articles embrace a diversity of methodological approaches,
synthesising visual and textual analysis to throw light upon
different aspects of his oeuvre helping to reveal the cultural
history of the period’s shifting artistic, scientific,
institutional and political identities. The commitment amongst
a growing sector of art historians to widen the canon beyond
the confines of the ‘high arts’ of painting, sculpture
and architecture to include the visual cultures of design
and material culture has also informed many of the interventions
in this volume.