Hunting-themed decoration on Georgian, Regency and Victorian glassware
If there’s anything guaranteed to make any self respecting hare mad at the very least, if not incandescent with rage, it’ll be getting chased out of his comfortable form by a slavering hound or, worse still, by a slavering bumpkin with a pitchfork.
Unfortunately it has long been the lot of the wee murchen (as I knew them whilst growing up) to be harried, hassled and harassed. In the days when the glasses which accompany this piece were made, it was invariably as a source of food that they were pursued by a broad cross section of society, but today it’s more likely to be slack-jawed retards with long dogs after some “sport” or equally cretinous, braying members of a limited gene pool gallivanting about in an effort to ensure that as many of the various castes of rural life as possible are reminded exactly where their respective places in the evolutionary and social scales may be – but enough of my tiny minded bigotries, for the moment (aaaand – breath)…
Hunting back in the time at which our glasses were produced, as we have referenced, was a means of subsistence first and sport second . It may well have been the case that the landed gentry themselves did not do the full complement of rods, chains and furlongs in pursuit of game on a regular basis, preferring to turn out in their finest pinks on only the limited occasions when the opportunity to impress was perhaps the foremost consideration, but it is true - of course - that the quarry of the vast majority of hunts (other than those where reynard was the intended victim) was destined for the dining table. This was just as likely to be the humble bench of the estate workers or villagers as it was the finely-chased mahogany refectory pieces of the landowners, but it was, naturally, the latter where one would find glassware illustrating the thrill of the chase. As ever it was for self-aggrandisement that such pieces were commissioned, the inference being that the owner had sufficient free time to become proficient at his chosen sport, that he was able to apply the martial experience gained in military service to the same end or that one’s estate was large enough to support organised hunting, perhaps having its own kennels, stabling and the associated staff required to operate them. Whatever the underlying message might have been, it was invariably the inference that it was simply a better class of person who followed the hunt – exactly the same sort of person who would have the financial wherewithal to commission bespoke glassware in the first place so the two interests really were a match made in heaven, and it is unsurprising that there is such a relatively high proportion of hunt-related pieces when compared to other specific pursuits.
This does mean that hunting glasses make for a very interesting sub-genre in which collectors may choose to specialise, particularly when one considers the differing mehtods of coursing and entrapment which are depicted, be it hunting with hounds, shooting, fowling, trapping, coursing or – less commonly – archery. It all harks back to a time when the hunt for all its finery was to all intents and purposes a practical pursuit rather than the fanciful posturing which it has become, and as such is something to which we may well return in further articles. Tally ho, and all that !