Created in 1853, the famous so-called glass ‘Bee Bottle‘ is celebrating its 170th birthday this year! A testament to Maison Guerlain’s exceptional heritage, this piece fashioned from the very outset by the glassmaker Pochet du Courval has established itself as a real sliver of history.
Set off in gold, the sixty-nine bees gathering nectar on the bottle were initially offered to Empress Eugenie as the ultimate symbol of the Empire and Place Vendôme to celebrate her marriage to Napoleon III.
On this 170th anniversary, the iconic Bee Bottle is again taking over the realm of the Exceptional Pieces, offering an invitation to artistic craftsmanship.
A Journey Worthy of Humble Bee
In 2023, the Bee Bottle is continuing its spectacular journey and bringing its foraging bees to rest on the banks of the island of Murano. Here, at the heart of the Venetian lagoon, Guerlain has called on the talent of artistic glassmaker Aristide Najean for this 170th-anniversary bottle.
A fashioner of molten material, the French sculptor and artist trained by the greatest master glassmakers has built his reputation on his picto-sculptural inspirations and incomparably rich colour palette.
Najean says that he remains fascinated by the whirring of the glass kilns in the evening on the Italian island. For over 20 years, the artist has been turning his bags of sand and quartz into delicate creations in the most crystalline element imaginable. “Every day, I’m surprised by the magic of this material,” confesses Najean, who studied its composition before working with it “to get to know it better.”
Aristide’s Mastery of Murano Glass
Murano Glass tells the story of an ancient art born in Antiquity and officially established on the island from the 13th century onwards. In the greatest secrecy, the legendary manufacturing techniques accumulated over the centuries are passed down from master to pupil. As clear as the water of the canals surrounding it, the glass is melted to 1,400°C, according to an alchemical process in traditional refractory stone kilns.
Made of 70% silica sand, to which minerals are added to tint it, the heated powdered glass turns into a liquid. As it cools down, it recovers a consistency that allows it to be shaped. Murano glass and its beauty born of a “mineral and cosmic radiance” will never cease to amaze Najean.
It has to be said that the French artist offers “a little bit of himself, in addition to what the glass already reveals” in each of his creations. A painter and sculptor, Nejean was trained at a very early age in the Murano technique under a master glassmaker and found an extension of his work as a painter in this sculptural activity.
Currently, he is the only French artist on the island with a glassmaking workshop. Najean reveals all his pictorial experience, colours and sense of light and shade in the crystalline material. His unique pieces, in which painting and sculpture come together in an original and poetic symphony, have always been more than mere heirs of the Murano tradition and are celebrated worldwide for having brought an artistic breath of fresh air to the world of contemporary glass craftsmanship.
From the Drawing Board to Bee Bottle
Today, Najean’s know-how naturally dialogues with the richness of Guerlain’s heritage to give body to an exceptional bottle from which an armful of opaline flowers bursts forth.
“Before the drawing process, there was a key meeting with Ann Caroline Prazan, Director of Heritage and Artistic Relations,” recalls the master glassmaker. “She suggested that I work on the idea of the bridal bouquet. I very quickly saw how the flowers could be arranged on an adornment, breaking free from or entering into the bottle in graceful ripples. Then it had to be created. And there is nothing more beautiful than an additional artistic exercise.”
Venetian Craftsmanship Honoured and Revered
A clear echo of its imperial birth on 30th of January 1853, this exceptional bottle delivers a realistic interpretation of the bridal bouquet while a veil of everlasting flowers delicately tinted in gold unfolds on its shoulders. This precious composition, a masterpiece of Venetian craftsmanship, creates a subtle play of opacity and transparency true to the sculptural dimension of the artist’s work. Its structure is formed around a leaf of blown glass, from which bursts a wave of white flowers, symbolizing eternal union and purity.
This incredibly refined and skillful work takes seven hours, incorporating transparency and a 24-carat inlay, sixty-nine bees hand-painted at Pochet du Courval by dedicated artisans, elegantly foraging among the golden pistils. “Only the glass and the heat count; we bring a new, timeless form back to life. If we add a little 24-carat gold to the composition, we boost the aura of this already extremely powerful material. By adding this gold to this transparent glass characteristic of Murano, we irradiate the piece; we give it what should be an adornment or a unique moment.”
An Opportunity to Be a Part of History
On this 170th anniversary, this everlasting bouquet is limited to 10 pieces with another ode to love: the perfume Bouquet de la Mariée accompanies the bottle also expresses the language of love. There are ten unique pieces worldwide; each bottle can be customized and may be engraved as desired by its owner for 25,000€.
To experience this story in glossy magazine format, click through to Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine.
- Helen Siwak is the founder of EcoLuxLuv Marketing & Communications Inc and publisher of Folio.YVR Luxury Lifestyle Magazine and digital women's lifestyle magazine EcoLuxLifestyle.co. She is a prolific content creator, consultant, and marketing and media strategist within the ecoluxury lifestyle niche. Post-pandemic, she has worked with many small to mid-sized plant-based/vegan brands to build their digital foundations and strategize content creation and business development. Helen is the west coast correspondent to Canada’s top-read industry magazine Retail-Insider, holds a vast freelance portfolio, and consults with many of the world’s luxury heritage brands. Always seeking new opportunities and challenges, you can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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