Glass and Glass Ware, Paris 1878 - 06




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Universal Exposition At Paris, 1878. 304


Italy, which of late has been trying to revive the art of making ancient glass, made quite a display at the Exposition. Although I admired several of the productions shown in such profusion, I must say that the impression left upon the mind is one of disappointment. I have seen in the other sections, French, Austrian, and English, much superior wares than even those of the well-known Venice and Murano Company. The colors shown by the Italians, with a few exceptions, are so dull and wanting in the brilliancy of other nations, that the difference becomes painfully apparent on comparison. The wares are blown very badly, and indicate the work of artisans who are not skilled in their art. These defects are especially to be seen in pieces above ordinary sizes. The English and French show much superior goods in that line, and the colors surpass them altogether. I am aware that the aim of the Italians is to reproduce a blending of colors to show soft peculiar tints, but I must confess that they are yet far from success, and a good clear color will always be superior to a dull, undecided, obscured shade. The beauty of glass is its brilliancy, and no attempt should be made to deprive it of this one particular and inherent quality.

In regard to taste, I must also say that I have failed to see any great display of it. I cannot see good taste in lusters or chandeliers loaded down with a multitude of glass leaves and flowers of all colors and shapes, thrown together in close promiscuity, without regard to the harmony of colors. Nor can I appreciate mirrors with glass frames loaded down with the same materials.

Although it must be acknowledged that Italian art in mosaics is to be admired, and is superior to anything seen elsewhere, yet the impression left of the Italian section is one that leads me to believe that the ancient Venetian skill has departed from its former center. The Italian mosaics, however, were many of them wonderful productions, both in coloration and execution, and I did not think that so many and such beautiful things could be made out of this art. I must also commend the fancy glass jewelry of this section, as showing with what ingenuity and perfection this material has been treated. The aventurine jewelry and mosaics are really wonderful. This aventurine or imitation gold stone presents many difficulties in its manufacture, but

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from the large blocks that were shown, it would seem that they have been thoroughly mastered in Italy.

The Venice and Murano Company had the largest variety on exhibition, and represented probably the best productions of the country. It was established in 1866 by English gentlemen, who, as lovers of ancient art, wish to revive and restore it to its primitive greatness.

It would be impossible to describe the objects exhibited without drawings, and a mere description does not convey to the mind any idea of the goods. I will simply describe the styles, without pretending to give the names of the objects they are intended to represent:

A large bowl of white glass, 16 inches in diameter, decorated in gold with different subjects. This decoration is done by covering the glass with gold and scratching out the outlines of the subjects represented.

Another large bowl in pale yellow, decorated in outline painting. The colors in these and other articles of the same kind look rough and as if they had not been half burnt in.

A pair of tall vases of a pale brown glass, blown with longitudinal ribs of opal, put on very straight; the contrast of colors is good. Said to have been sold several times; one pair has also been purchased by the National Lottery.

A vase and bowl of the same colored glasses, but the ribs put on horizontally.

A large variety of marbleized glass vases.

Imitation of precious stones in glass of different colors, presumed to have been made by using sections of different colored glass put side by side.

Small vases showing on the outside irregular threads of colored glass, looking somewhat like crackled ware.

Vases of glass mottled with gold; others with spiral threads of opal.

Decanters in dark marbled glass, running from dark to light marble; a pretty effect.

Blue glass round toilet caskets, with lace pattern in enamel white; execution irregular.

A variety of small vases, with metallic flakes and spun thread; some of white glass with ruby threads; others of colored glasses with threads of different colors.

A vase, opal inner coating, covered over with ruby, making a very pretty color.

A number of articles with filigree work; generally well done.

Vases in millefiori, showing the patterns in sections at the sides.

A vase of white glass, with yellow metallic flakes, having an opal filigree spirally wound around it; rather pretty.

A bowl of white glass, with opal filigree bottom, painted in white enamel; rather inferior.

A large vase of white glass with cover, stem representing a dragon, made of white glass, with inside ruby threads; inferior work. Foot and body of white glass, with opal cross and twisted threads; very pretty and well done.

A candelabrum of white glass, foot tipped with light ruby, stem blown with twisted ruby and vertical straight threads, decorated with swans

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made of opal, glass chains hung in festoon, green scrolls, and flowers, leaves tipped with ruby; height about 4 feet.

Tables of mosaics made of aventurine of two shades, blue and green mottled marbled glass, very beautiful in colors and workmanship; the joints of the several pieces hardly perceptible.

A great variety of thin blown articles, badly done, surface full of tool marks and irregular shapes.

A number of cups, made of dark colored marbled glass, which seem to have been cut out of a solid piece; very handsome.

A flower stand of opalescent glass, with a plateau of 20 inches diameter, crowned with a trumpet-shaped vase, decorated with mottled light ruby or rose-colored leaves; the glass full of air bubbles and stones, the shape imperfect.

Several articles made of a light yellow or amber-colored glass of a very good shade. No cut or pressed glass ware to be found in the collection of this house.

A large mirror, with glass silvered frame covered over with leaves, green and white flowers, border engraved, the top of the frame being a piece of silvered glass engraved. A very intricate piece of work, but of poor taste and a bad arrangement of colors.

Fig. 25. — Venice & Murano Company.

The designs (Fig. 25) represent some of these wares. The beauty of the contours is, however, frequently spoiled by bad workmanship and defects in the glass.

This firm exhibited quite a large number of chandeliers and candelabra for gas made entirely of glass, covered and decorated with glass flowers and leaves of opal, rose, blue, yellow, and white glass, branches also of different colored glasses; all this work is made of many pieces and is held together by silvered wire. Some of these chandeliers were made of twisted glass branches and flowers tipped with different colored glass.

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A heavy cross of ruby glass, branches in bronze, with, ruby oil-cups.

Lamps in the Arabian style.

A cup with two handles, on a foot of white glass, the whole surrounded on the outside with a reticular net work of the same glass in the form of entwined ribbons, completely detached from the body of the cup, but united to it at foot and top.

Of the mosaic work I cannot undertake to give a description, but its excellence cannot be too highly praised. The articles made by this house are in ordinary white glass — no flint is used. They employ about 210 workmen, including 65 children. The work, as may be imagined, is all done by hand, and the glass is baked in muffle furnaces. The articles are principally reproductions of ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antique glasses in many colors, carved out of blocks; articles imitating Christian glass, with gilding between two layers of glass and mosaics in colored glass, of which they claim to have more than 9,000 shades. The finest work of this firm is the filigree, which seems to be faultless.

Salviati & Co., Venice. This house exhibits a great many articles in the same style as the Venice and Murano Company.

Quite a variety of jugs, pots, vases, of marbleized, mottled, and metalized glass.

Articles of different colored filigree.

Ruby-colored vases of a very handsome purplish ruby, with opal threads and border.

The filigree work of this house is finely done and the prices very low.

A flat bowl, 17 inches, of mottled spirals of different colors.

Another bowl, 28 inches, in mottled pink, yellow, and blue, the stem in bluish aventurine, the border in waved scalloped border, in imitation of a shell.

A set of blue bowls in very pretty color, painted in gold enamel.

A vase, 24 inches high, in white glass, with blue and opal waves; badly blown, but pretty in colors.

A pair of vases, blue outside with opal inside; a very pretty color combination.

Vases in gold, mottled, with white-glass handles made of two swans with red bills; the handles poorly executed, the vase pretty.

A variety of mirrors with silvered and engraved glass frames, with top pieces of the same.

In this house, as in the preceding, I saw several samples of beautiful ruby; in fact, such ruby as could not be seen elsewhere.

A vase of green glass, with gold flakes.

Goblets gilded in the bowl up to a certain height, and spiral ruby filigree with opalescent horizontal threads; a handsome combination.

The same gilding as in the preceding house could also be seen in a variety of articles, the designs being shown by denuded outlines.

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The same decorations as heretofore described are also introduced in articles of iridescent glass.

A few goblets blown in molds, with irregular forms. The mold-marks could be detected quite readily.

A large variety of all-glass chandeliers, with the usual unsuccessful and homely combinations; also brackets in the same style.

Small hanging baskets, with glass chains and colored painted bottoms in enamel.

A hanging basket, with perforated metallic frame in which ruby glass had been blown, hung by metallic chains having balls also filled with ruby glass. This is evidently an unsuccessful combination of metal and glass, for I plainly saw a crack in the bottom of the basket. It cannot be expected that glass and metal blown together in this way will stand the different degrees of temperature equally, and expand and contract alike.

The mosaics of this house, like that of all the other Italian houses, were very beautiful, both in the color of the glass and the thorough execution of the work. I also saw an application of mosaics to a new purpose — book covers of very handsome colored glasses.

I noticed the same shortcoming in this house as elsewhere; the articles are generally badly blown and the glass filled with defects. It would seem as though it had never received a thorough melting.

Davide Bedendo, Venice, exhibited the usual decorated mirrors. The display of mosaics of this house is very superior. I saw a very large and handsome table designed in geometrical figures and filled with different imitations of precious stones, the contours of the pieces being cut with a remarkable accuracy.

Mosaics in relief, and polished

Representations of celebrated buildings and churches in mosaics of excellent colors and execution.

This house also exhibited a number of articles used for jewelry made of glass, such as necklaces, ear-rings, spun glass, bracelets, neckties, small baskets, etc.

D. T. Olivotti, Murano, Venice. A fine display of glass, jewelry, and articles for wear, such as bracelets, ear-rings, table mats, necklaces, etc. These articles are not spun, but consist of threads woven at right angles with different colored glasses. A variety of different colored beads of all shapes and styles, apparently made by twisting glass threads spirally and partially heating them to cement them together. A variety of fancy small toilet bottles made in all styles of colored, marbled, and mottled glasses. Paper weights and fancy goods made in the inimitable aventurine or gold-stone imitation.

Macedonian Candiani, of Venice, exhibited very pretty glass ware made in imitation of marble and precious stones,

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such as the platinized and the so-called Babylonian marbles, agate, lapis-lazuli, onyx, aventurine, Oriental, Japanese, Corinthian marbles in gold and silver; porphyry, etc. He also manufactures all kinds of enamels in very pretty colors. This exhibit was very creditable, and comprised a variety of beautifully mixed colored pastes or glasses.

Space will not allow me to describe the pretty fancy goods exhibited by other houses and the numberless and beautiful mosaics to be seen all over the Italian section. In these two particular branches we cannot praise Italian art too much. It will be many years before any other nation will be able to compete with that country in this style of goods. Living is cheap in Italy, and I have been told that an artisan working on mosaics and producing the beautiful designs we saw only gets 50 cents a day, and yet he must be a graduate of the Academy of Fine Arts before he can even earn this pittance. It is really astonishing to see the small and intricate designs of mosaics. This work requires not only a great skill but also a great correctness in the designs. I must also acknowledge that in colored glass several of their colors are very good, but many others are poor, indefinite, lacking in brilliancy, and appear to have been dulled by impure materials or imperfect melting. Neither am I an enthusiast over the reproductions of ancient glass; the generality of them are lacking in taste and regularity of forms.

Sweden and Norway.

These two countries had very little on exhibition.

F. Bresewitz, Limmared, Sweden, exhibited some common druggist ware, blue and brown bottles; also several sets of thin blown white glass, painted in enamel colors.

Norway has two flint-glass factories, one with a Boëtius furnace and the other with a wood gas furnace. These works make all sorts of table ware in flint and half-flint, gas globes, chimneys, etc. One window-glass works uses wood as a fuel in a direct fire furnace; three bottle-works use Siemens gas furnaces, two with pots, the other the continuous compartment furnace.

The number of workmen in 1875 was:

In the flint-glass works 291
In the window-glass works 37
In the bottle-glass works 263
Total 591
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Of these 25 are women and 112 children. The annual production is as follows:

Flint glass $86,500
Window glass 27,000
Bottle glass 86,500
Total 200,000

At Bergen, Norway, the Bergen Glass Works are located. They manufacture beer- and wine-bottles and floating glass balls used for fishing. This establishment employs 50 hands, uses a gas furnace, and makes about 1,180,000 pieces yearly.

The Vallo Glass Works, situated at Vallo, Norway, make wine- and beer-, green and black, bottles and floating balls. These works use coal and peat in a gas furnace The daily production is 7,000 to 8,000 bottles.