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  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Vase; mould-blown bowl of trumpet-shaped yellow-green glass, the rim ground and polished, set in a deep purple pressed-glass base of stepped form, echoing the outline of the bowl.

  • Producer name

  • Date

    • 1924-1925 (designed)
    • 1925-1930 (made between)
  • Production place

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 27.5 centimetres (total)
    • Height: 21.6 centimetres (bowl)
    • Diameter: 20.9 centimetres
    • Height: 7.5 centimetres
    • Diameter: 14.9 centimetres
  • Inscriptions

      • Inscription Type

        maker's mark
      • Inscription Position

        base of both pieces
      • Inscription Comment

        Acid-etched with the Lebeau/Leerdam serial glass signet with designer's monogram.
  • Curator's comments

    Text from J. Rudoe, 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950. A catalogue of the British Museum collection'. 2nd ed. no.141.
    Chris Lebeau studied at the Amsterdamse Kunst Nijverheid Teekenschool 'Quellinus' (the 'Quellinus' school of applied arts) from 1892 to 1895 and then at the Rijksschool voor Kunstnijverheid from 1895 to 1899. From 1898 to 1899 he also studied at the Vahana-School, where he developed a geometric approach to design. By the early 1900s he was a reputed graphic and textile designer. He was largely responsible for the popularity of batik textiles in the Netherlands, setting up his own batik atelier in Haarlem in 1902 and selling the textiles through het Binnenhuis. He later taught in Antwerp and Haarlem.
    He had made designs for glass as early as 1900 but they were never realised; at the request of Philips electric-light factory in 1922, he made sketches for items to be made from waste glass, but the collaboration came to nothing. Lebeau first met Leerdam's director, P.M. Cochius, at the funeral of the architect K.P.C. de Bazel, the first outside artist to design for Leerdam. For the role of Cochius in commissioning outside artists to design for Leerdam, see 'Decorative Arts 1850-1950', Cat. 50. Lebeau's first series for Leerdam was designed in 1924, put into production in 1925 and shown at the Paris Exhibition of that year, where the Musée des Arts Décoratifs acquired a large trumpet-shaped vase with separate base, also in green and purple (the vase is unpublished, but for an illustration of the same model, see A. van der Kley-Blekxtoon, 'Leerdam Glas1878-1930', Lochem 1984, 68, pl. 73, centre vase in group). Lebeau's vases continued to be shown at exhibitions in Holland and abroad, for example in New York, at the International Exhibition of Contemporary Glass and Rugs, held by the American Federation of Arts in 1929-30.
    Lebeau found Leerdam's existing vase shapes too uniform; he therefore designed unusual shapes for specific flowers and plants, as well as double-sided vases that were usable either way up. His bizarre shapes were not always well received at the time: Karel Wasch in his book 'Glas en Kristal' (Rotterdam 1927) compared them to laboratory glass. Yet they were highly original and quite unlike anything else produced at the time in Holland, or indeed elsewhere. Those that were put into production are illustrated in the Leerdam trade catalogue of 1927 (see van der Kley-Blekxtoon 1984, pls 73-9, reproductions of the 1927 illustrations, and pl. 80). The vases were no longer produced after 1930.
    The Leerdam colour range at the time included the popular bright yellow-green known as 'annagroen', bright orange-red, purple, amber and blue. The mould-blown bowls were made in pear-wood moulds, the pressed bases in iron moulds. A number of Lebeau's original water-colour sketches survive (see M. de Bois, 'Chris Lebeau - ontwerper 1878-1945', exhibition catalogue, Drents Museum, Assen and Frans Halsmuseum, Haarlem, 1987, 171- 7), including designs for items that were never produced. The pieces were executed from working drawings made by the factory's design department. For further discussions of manufacturing techniques see de Bois, 174-5. Unlike Copier, de Lorm and the other designers, Lebeau's tableware designs were limited to a single water glass and water carafe, finger bowl and fruit bowl; being teetotal, he designed no wine glasses.
    Following conflict with Copier and Cochius, Lebeau left Leerdam in 1926 for the factory of Ludwig Moser in Winterberg, Bohemia, where he concentrated on the production of one-off pieces, often in craquele glass in the manner of Copier's 'Unica' vases. But after 1929 Moser was no longer able to sell expensive, unique pieces; the factory could not persuade Lebeau to design for serial production and so the association came to an end (de Bois, 185). For the rest of his career Lebeau returned to painting and drawing. His anti-Nazi activities during the German occupation of Holland led to his arrest in 1943 and he died in Dachau in 1945.


  • Bibliography

    • Rudoe 1994 141 bibliographic details
    • Rudoe 1991a 141 bibliographic details
    • Carey 1991 p.47 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Britain, Europe and Prehistory

  • Registration number


COMPASS Title: Glass vase, designed by Chris Lebeau


COMPASS Title: Glass vase, designed by Chris Lebeau

Reproduced by permission of the artist. © The Trustees of the British Museum

Image description



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Object reference number: MCT2562

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