When, in 1764, French king Louis XV granted permission for Prince Bishop Cardinal Louis-Joseph de Laval-Montmorency to open a glassworks in the eastern village of Baccarat, the monarch was thinking drinking glasses, mirrors and windowpanes. In fact, that is precisely what the workshop made for its first 50 years. In 1816, under Napoleon, the company installed its first crystal ovens—starting a whole new chapter in this storied company’s history.
Shortly thereafter, in 1823, Baccarat received its first royal commission, an order which was to mark the start of many such commissions within France and abroad. Designs became more and more sensational while the quality and craftsmanship continued to improve. As Baccarat built a reputation as one of the world’s premier crystal houses, international awards piled-up. And the royal commissions continued to pour in.
With the fall of Napoleon III, domestic commissions began to wane and Baccarat turned-outward to expand foreign markets. As a result, Baccarat vases, perfume bottles, chandeliers, sculpture, stemware and decanters—like the one above—can be found in fine homes worldwide.