Crystal Collections, The Gift that Leaves a Lasting Impression

Bohemian Glass

The following chronology of Bohemian Glass was found in BOHEMIAN GLASS, edited by Sylva Petrova and Jean-Luc Olivie and was first published in 1989.

  • Bohemia is in the crossroads of Europe near mineral rich mountains. North Bohemia, the land of glassworks, is located in Northern Czech Republic, north of Prague, between the German and Polish borders.
  • Glass is made from a mixture of fluxes, ash, oxide of silicas and stabilizers, and melted at very high temperatures.
  • Bohemian glass was originally thought to be magical and Prague was a magical city. Bohemian glass has been famous worldwide since the eighteenth centure, although local production started in the fourteenth century.
  • Glass making schools developed in Bohemia, later Czechoslovakia. As schools expended, so did creativity. Today, schools include factory experience. After World War I, there was a 'new golden age of Bohemian glass.
  • The Middle Ages, between the eighth and tenth centuries, started the glass jewelry and objects d'art. Thirteenth century developed hollow glass for objects and sheet glass for architectural use including stained glass windows.
  • In the second half of the sixteenth century new techniques were developed which had been influenced by Venetian Renaissance glass. During the seventeenth century, linear engraved with cold painting was also inspired by Venice. At the end of the Renaissance, wheel-engraving made the reputation of Bohemian glass.
  • Ruby glass, colored with gold, started in 1670. Also famous during that same period was engraved decoration (symbolizing mythology, saints, emblems and hunting scenes). Engraving and painted glass themes changed throughout the years. Another new form in the 1700's was double walled glass with gold between the layers.
  • Eighteenth to the nineteenth century exporting suffered due to wars, customs and blockades. Copying the beautiful English and Irish transparent glass with cut decorations. Also patented at that time was glass with a marbled surface and improved techniques in wheeled engraving.
  • Between 1835 and 1850, after developing their own process of complicated cutting, painting, decorating and vivid colors, France, Belgium and England started imitating Bohemian artists.
  • During the first half of the nineteenth century, painting on glass became most important. Techniques from Bohemia filtered to Vienna.
  • Friedrich Egermann developed glass ornamented by red staining. The secret process was stolen and sold to a crystal manufacturing plant in France.
  • A collaborative program was made after 1864 between Vienna and Bohemian manufacturers.
  • The first glass making school, the first of it's kind, started in 1850 after exports declined. A second school started in 1870. In 1920 another specialized school started teaching glass and jewelry making. School was for three years and included drawing and painting on glass and porcelain.
  • The early 1900's started Art Nouveau glass. Some styles were borrowed from France and Vienna including both floral and geometric styles. Glass production tended to vary from the very traditional to the modern styles.
  • Contemporary glass creations developed around 1950. After the war, supplies for glass making was scarce. Schools continued to teach the art including the School of Applies Arts in Prague and a small firm founded by Emanuel Beranek.
  • By the end of the 50's, this new contemporary art was successful at large international shows. Stanislav Libensky was a professor at the Novy Bor School. He later became a Professor at the Academy of Applies Arts (until 1987) following Professor Josef Holecek. Some of the designs were known as Studio Glass in the US during the 60's.
  • Through a collaborative effort between Stanislav Libensky and Jaroslava Bryshtova, they started independent creation. This included mold-melted glass cast elements. Their work won gold metals in 1958 in Brussels. This distinguished Czech glass making internationally.
  • The 1970's popularity moved glass making to small sculptures with precision cutting and collage and the 1980's when Libensky/Brychtove sculpted mod-melted glass.
  • Interglass Symposiums started in 1982 (every three years) in Novy Bor. It was an opportunity for international artists, curators and theoreticians can meet each other.

"In the end, Czech glass making artists have an open spirit that puts them in the forefront of the international scene." -- Sylva Petrova