The Gemmail term is a neologism invented by Jean Cocteau by the contraction of two names, gems (precious stones), and stained glass.
The Gemmail, was created in the 30’s after the work of two men. The painter Jean Crotti, which glued glass powder on a window (but too fragile process is quickly abandoned) and Roger Malherbe-Navarre in the 50s. Son and brother of physicists, Malherbe improves the technique by superimposing plates and other colored glass elements on a back-lit glass, allowing to obtain an unlimited color palette permanently fixed by a binder.
The gemmistes of Malherbe workshop, artisans glass, then work as directed by the great contemporary painters like Picasso and Braque.
The gemmiste becomes the painter that the founder is to the sculptor. The painter puts his signature on the Gemmail, original and unique work.
This technique is then used by Rouault, Van Dongen, Villon, Cocteau …
Picasso demonstrates, « a new art was born, the Gemmaux ».
Braque, still inhabited by its artisan training, raves, « If I was thirty, I would be the Gemmiste Braque ».
Finally, for Cocteau, «The Gemmail is a new face of beauty. »
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