A pair of ruby glass vases mounted in polished silver with geometric motifs; mounted in sterling silver with French assay marks

  • Signed Jean E. Puiforcat and with makers mark EP
  • Height: 15 1/4 inches
  • Diameter: 4 1/4 inches

Additional cataloguing


Born in 1897 to a family of French cutlery silversmiths dating to 1820, Jean Emile Puiforcat served in World War I before joining the family firm and creating the strong geometric designs composed of flat surfaces in dynamic combinations that he is known for. In 1928 he co-founded the Union des Artistes Modernes with Raymond Templier, Jean Fouquet, René Herbst, and Gérard Sandoz before moving to Mexico in 1941 and dying unexpectedly in 1945. The company is now owned by Hermès.



The 1920s and 1930s were a time of great technological advancement on land, on sea, and in the sky. The excitement of this new technology was reflected in the bold streamlined shapes of the late Art Deco, known as Art Moderne. Coming off the curves and elaborate decoration of previous decades, the straight lines of the Art Deco were modern and shocking. Jean Puiforcat, a founder of the Union des Artistes Modernes, was a master of the austere and inventive. He wrote in a report of the Admissions Committee for the 1925 Exposition internationale des Arts décoratifs et industriels modernes, “a teapot must pour correctly and thus accomplish its function” but it is also a “work of art and must, within its modest sphere, uplift the soul with its beauty.”

Puiforcat was featured prominently at the 1925 exhibition from which Art Deco draws its name and exhibited in Jacques-Émile Ruhlmann’s pavillon du Collectionneur. His designs were celebrated by critics, artists, and collectors as some of the finest of the era. Gaston Varenne wrote in Art & Decoration that his pieces “all possess a great purity of line and volume whose coldness is attenuated by the subtle shift of cleverly architectured surfaces and occasional veins. The uses of exotic stones and wood add a note of color.” Rather than being created with exalted materials, the rigorous objects designed by Puiforcat are luxurious in the precision and quality of their conception and design.

Raymond Templier described Puiforcat’s work as “displaying a reasoning, a logic, a robustness and highly sensitive precision. He was able to magnificently create forms of astonishing invention and logic, achieving true equilibrium, joy, and perfect visual harmony.” Heavily influenced by mathematics and the golden section, in this set of vases, Puiforcat’s design is austere and streamlined, with each vase composed of polished metal against rich warm ruby glass. Bold geometric shapes slide together and interconnect creating an elegant form. Puiforcat insisted that all his pieces must be made completely by hand, but no hammer strike is ever visible, achieving perfection. This exquisite design, made even more rare because it is a perfectly matched pair, is a magnificent and pure example of Art Moderne design.