German & Austrian
German art glass denominations have become a little confused over the years as
a result of the shifting geographical borders throughout central Europe, but
purists may like to adhere to the original conventions for clarity, and as a
reflection of historical precedent.
An example would be Ludwig Moser & Sons, founded in 1857 in the town of
Karslbad which had existed under German and Austrian rule for the majority of
its history before being designated part of the Czech Republic in successive
post-WWII treaties, border tweaks and resettlements.
Moser’s production lines initially existed purely as finishing facilities for
glass blanks acquired from throughout Bohemia – material from Johann Loetz, for
instance, was polished and engraved there. It was not until the latter part of
the 19th century that a production facility was created which was soon turning
out very high quality cut glass, mainly for the use of the Emperor of Austria
himself. England’s King Edward VII was to become another customer of regal
provenance, and the company’s renown spread far and wide. A broader clientele
prompted departures from existing stylistic guidelines, and coloured art glass
bowls, vases, stemware and decanters soon augmented the product catalogue.
A contemporary of Moser and Loetz was Daniel Swarovski who, having served a
brief apprenticeship at his father’s factory, set up his own facility at
Wattens in the Austrian Tyrol. This took advantage of the precipitous nature of
the surrounding mountainous countryside by installing hydroelectric generators,
which provided the power behind intensive grinding processes which enabled the
production of extraordinarily complicated cut glass pieces. Swarovski enhanced
the refractive qualities of his multi-faceted pieces by incorporating metallic
foils – and later, chemical coatings – which produced a stunning range of
increasingly brilliant diamond-like effects.
Fritz Lampl and Joseph Berger produced a similar range of figurines as did Swarovski,
under the name of Bimini and in a more classical art glass style with the use
of drawn trumpet vases incorporating twisted enamelled glass straws and
whole-coloured stemware of delicate green or blue colouration. Lauscha Glass
from Theuringia in Germany replicated this Bimini style, extending its used to
less decorative, more utilitarian products such as candy-coloured knife rests
and cocktail stick holders. The Freidrich, Oberglas and Ingrid glasshouses all
tended to produce vases of a more geometric nature, featuring textured,
roughened surfaces and generally muted, somewhat earthen colouring (with the
odd startling orange or bright green exception), and the abstract designs of
Walther & Düsterhaus complete the roll call of the region’s primary art
glass producers with their predominantly clear pieces shot through with bright
splashes of colour.
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