Bohemian Glass became popular in main to demand for it by the U.S.A, it was produced firstly in Bohemia which of course now it the Czech Republic, also in Hungary, and parts of Germany. These skilled producers used overlay with ornate designs, sometimes called Flashed Glass, the period between 1875 to 1900 produced the pieces that are most sought after today.
History of Bohemian Glass
Bohemian Glass first started being made in the 13th century, the early classic pieces were made in an ornate Baroque style around the late 1600’s to the middle of the 17th century. It was Caspar Lehmann at the start of the 17th century who adapted a new style of gem engraving with bronze and copper, he was actually a royal gem cutter to the emperor of Prague, Rudolf II. The classic ways of cutting on glass were Hochschnitt – high cut and Tiefschnitt – deep cut, and had been in practice for hundreds of years, Lehmann made this technique his own.
The Nurnberg School of Engravers
Lehmann’s student, Georg Schwanhardt decided to form a school for budding artists and engravers. Schwanhardt decided to move the school out from Bohemia, and Bohemian Glass went through a lull. Later on, in the 17th century, the glass we know today as Bohemian Glass was developed and produced, it was a dense high-lustre, potash-lime glass. The original designs and highly decorative motifs made Bohemian Glass the leading glass in the world.
Silesia in the heart of Bohemia became the world centre of production for this new form of ornate glass, with famous engravers making their name in producing great pieces of art, one such engraver was Friedrich Winter. By the time the 18th century came along, Bohemia had fierce competition from English glass with fine cut decoration on lead glass, mostly designed in the new Rococo style. Bohemian Glass responded to this competition by inventing Hyalith glass, which was a striking black and gold Chinese design, and also Lithyalin glass which represented semi-precious stones.
The 19th Century
During this period also, a Ruby glass and a popular Opaque glass with detailed engraving and enamelling were both produced in Silesia. The late 19th century saw a decline in Bohemian Glass production, artistic quality started to wane and many of the artisans making this type of glass seemed to disappear. There was a brief revival by Ludwig Lobmeyr of Vienna, who was actually an industrialist who founded a glass designing studio in Steinschonau, but this was rather short lived. At its peak, Bohemian Glass was the finest in the world, the designs and colours produced were revolutionary and the envy of glass producers everywhere. Bohemian Glass was renowned for its vivid colours and techniques such as firing glass powder in a mould were outstanding achievements.
The production of decorative glass has long been debated as an art form, certainly this highly decorative way of producing glass is very skilful and only masters can achieve success. Whether it is actually an art form is in the eye of the beholder, the prices some pieces command in galleries and auctions would tend to point that it is.