During the 18th century, glassmaking in Britain experienced significant developments and innovations. One significant development during the 18th century was the invention of lead crystal by George Ravenscroft. Lead crystal, also known as flint glass, was a type of glass that contained a high percentage of lead oxide, which gave it a brilliant sparkle and a distinctive “ring” when tapped. Ravenscroft’s lead crystal was highly prized for its clarity and brilliance, and it became a popular choice for luxury glassware, such as drinking glasses, decanters, and chandeliers.
Another notable style of glassware during this period was “façon de Venise,” which refers to glassware made in the Venetian style. Venetian glass was highly regarded for its vibrant colours, intricate patterns, and skilled craftsmanship. British glassmakers sought to emulate this style by adopting Venetian techniques and designs.
Float glass was also used in mirror production during the 18th century. Thomas Sheraton and Denis Diderot, prominent furniture designers and writers of the time, documented the use of glass in mirrors in their works. Mirrors were considered luxury items, and the use of large sheets of glass in mirror production allowed for more elaborate mirrors to be made, which were highly valued for their decorative and functional purposes.
In addition to Venetian-style glass and lead crystal, British glassmakers during the 18th century also produced a wide range of other glassware, including drinking glasses, vases, bowls, and decorative objects. Glassware was often embellished with intricate engravings, cuttings, and decorative elements, reflecting the prevailing design aesthetics of the time, which included rococo, neoclassical, and chinoiserie styles.
The 18th century was a period of great creativity and innovation in British glassmaking, with glassware being highly valued for its beauty, functionality, and status symbol. Georgian glass, as it is commonly known, continues to be highly collectible and sought after by collectors and enthusiasts of 18th-century decorative arts today.
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