Glassware – A Glass Act

A recent article in The Telegraph concerning the current market for glassware predicted that we would be seeing a surge in interest in crystal and glassware, in “decidedly contemporary shapes’. Following a period of dust gathering and relative obscurity, Glass appears to be making a comeback. Despite the brittle physicality of this material, its decorative and ornamental nature speaks for itself and it is not difficult to see why these objects are desirable features within collections and homes alike.

At Nicholas Wells Antiques, we have a varied selection of glassware available from Roman through to the nineteenth centuries and contemporary production.

Bohemian glass bottles would make a beautiful addition to any display. As part of the Czech Republic, Bohemia became famous for its beautiful and colourful glass during the Renaissance. The history of Bohemian glass started with the abundant natural resources found in the countryside. As such, there is a rich tradition of Bohemian glass making, which goes back to the 16th and 17th centuries. Towards the latter part of the 19th century, Bohemia looked to the export trade and produced coloured glass that was desirable on a global scale. Pairs of vases, or bottles like those whose photographs appear below, were produced either in a single colour of opaque glass or in two-colour cased glass. These were decorated in thickly enamelled flower subjects that were painted with great efficiency and skill. Others were decorated with coloured lithographic prints imitating famous paintings. These glass objects were incredibly popular decorative objects throughout Europe and North America.

We also have two gorgeous Art Deco Val St Lambert cut glass vases, sumptuous in their design and oozing style. Art Deco was an aesthetic designed for a fast-paced industrial age, using symmetry and line to bring order to the natural world and for a time, no object escaped the streamlined touch of Art Deco. Because most Art Deco objects were mass-produced, a great many survive today, making them exciting and often, surprisingly affordable, collectables. As a style, Art Deco spanned the boom of the roaring 1920s and the bust of the Depression-ridden 1930s and could be epitomized by the flapper girl, the factory, the luxury ocean liner, the skyscraper and the fantasy world of Hollywood. Today, Art Deco continues to be considered fashionable reflected by its continual references within popular culture such as the recent adaptation of The Great Gatsby. It certainly adds a touch of glamour and opulence to any room.

Modern glass companies continue to produce interesting and fabulous objects. We have a selection of sculptural Murano pieces, several after Picasso, and a lovely Penguin by Baccarat. Baccarat has a long history; having been founded in 1764 with the permission of Louis XV of France, it is an art glass manufacturer that has transcended eras and fashions. However, despite being more than two centuries old, Baccarat continues to innovate. In 1979 it released its Massena cut-crystal stemware and tumblers, and in 1993 Baccarat produced its first line of fine jewellery. Of course, Murano glass is well known for producing some of the best European glass throughout the Renaissance and early modern period. Still a centre for glass production, the post-war years were another glorious period for Murano glass manufacture. The glass industry boomed during the 1950’s/60’s, exporting a vast amount of Venetian glassware as well as producing a large quantity of glassware for tourists visiting Venice. Murano glass production is still extremely active today.

The examples below demonstrate the versatility of glass from their multifarious appearance, function, texture and colour. These factors, in addition to its highly ornamental appeal, render it unsurprising that glass is back on the menu.