New objects are added to the Museum’s collection each year through acquisitions and donations. Recent highlighted additions to the glass collection include a mixed media and blown glass wall panel by the respected Mexican-American artists Einar and Jamex de la Torre, a dramatic cast sculpture by the internationally acclaimed Czech artists Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, and a remarkable 19th century Coppa Guggenheim.
Recent additions to the collection of the Rakow Research Library of The Corning Museum of Glass include a set of design drawings for stained glass by J. Gordon Guthrie and a 17th-century book on Pliny donated in honor of the Museum’s former executive director David Whitehouse.
Einar and Jamex de la Torre, Like Moths to a Flame
Visually loud, with loaded iconography and aggressive colors, the de la Torres brothers’ art is confrontational, humorous, and ironic. Born and raised in Mexico, Einar and Jamex de la Torre moved to Southern California in 1972. Dada and surrealist elements abound in their work, and they intentionally incorporate and re-interpret pre-Hispanic and Catholic motifs with a Dadaist or surrealist slant. The background photograph of Like Moths to a Flame, a mixed-media panel, was shot by the brothers at the St. Roch cemetery and chapel in New Orleans, and later manipulated in Photoshop. It shows the many offerings left by individuals to thank St. Roch (the patron saint of health) for their healing or to aid in their healing. The work, with furnace worked glass and found objects, references the centuries-old struggle between faith and reason. (2013.5.104, H: 76.2 cm, W: 121.9 cm, D: 24.1 cm.)
Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová, Through the Cone
The internationally acclaimed Czech artists Stanislav Libenský and Jaroslava Brychtová pioneered, developed, and defined cast glass as a medium for sculpture during a career that spanned more than 45 years. The dramatic character of the recently acquired work, Through the Cone, results from the penetration of light into the glass mass, a phenomenon that the artists explored repeatedly in their work. Through the Cone was partly inspired by the shape of Mount St. Helens in Oregon. While teaching at Pilchuck Glass School in 1982, Dale Chihuly arranged for the Libenskýs to fly over the volcano, which had erupted in 1980. Denuded of trees and still covered in ash, the artists were fascinated by the mountain, which had become even more of an imposing, and strongly geometric, form in the landscape. This object will be on view in the new North Wing Contemporary Galleries opening December 2014. (2014.3.2, Purchased with funds from James B. Flaws and Marcia Weber, H: 91.4 cm, W: 124.5 cm, D: 25.4 cm.)
Isabel De Obaldía, Crocodiles in Troubled Waters (Cocodrilos en aguas turbias)
A Panamanian painter and printmaker, Isabel De Obaldía creates images that reflect those of a long line of modern “primitive” painters—from Paul Gauguin to Diego Rivera—who explored the art of ancient and tribal cultures. Crocodiles in Troubled Waters takes the form of a four-legged rectangular metate with the heads of two crocodiles at either end, a glass version of the traditional stone mortars used for grinding maize and grains. De Obaldía’s totemic animals are semi-magical in feeling, with a powerful, almost shamanic presence. Colored with glass powders and engraved with deep cuts and gashes, the artist emphasizes the strong, raw, and earthy quality of her sculptures, which look ancient, as if excavated after years of burial. This object will be on view in the new North Wing Contemporary Galleries opening December 2014. (2014.5.1, H: 21.6 cm, W: 101.6 cm, D: 34.3 cm.)
In 1875, an article in the New York Herald described the Salviati & Co. glassworks located in the courtyard of the Palazzo Da Mula on Murano. The article recounts that the company had two furnaces, each with several glory holes. The Barovier family labored at one, and members of the Seguso family at the other. A lively competition developed between the younger members of both glassmaking dynasties. Venetian furniture manufacturer Michelangelo Guggenheim often lent items from his collection of antique Venetian glass to the industrial art school in the Palazzo Revedin, Venice, in order to inspire young glassblowers, including members of the Seguso and Barovier families. In 1875, 17-year-old Isidoro Seguso (1858-1897) reproduced the Coppa Guggenheim, a 17th-century Venetian goblet in Guggenheim’s collection (the goblet is now lost). Twenty-two year old Giuseppe Barovier (1853-1942) made another copy within the same year. The Coppa Guggenheim recently acquired by the Museum was probably made by Giuseppe Barovier. It is a remarkable feat of glassmaking since the cup itself is supported solely by the applied ornament—there is no central stem. (2013.3.19, Purchased in part with funds from the F. M. Kirby Foundation, H: 47.6 cm, Diam: 10.4 cm.)
The European fascination with Egyptian culture reached new heights following the expedition by Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) to Egypt in 1798-1801. This recently acquired obelisk made by Werner and Meith around the years 1800-1810 epitomizes the resulting Egyptomania. Only three other Werner and Mieth–made obelisks are known to have survived. The fact that this artifact is one of only four known underlines its rarity. The Corning obelisk was most likely a royal commission; the Werner and Mieth ormolu mounts give this claim added validity. A potential link to the French royal house under Napoleon is a strong possibility: one major client of Werner and Mieth was Joséphine de Beauharnais, Napoleon’s wife. At least one of Werner and Mieth’s glass objects has survived in her home, Château de Malmaison. (2013.3.13, H: 69.2 cm, W: 19.6 cm, D: 19.5 cm.)
Deckelpokal (Goblet with Cover)
This recently acquired deckelpokal is the only known object in decorative arts that connects Goethe, Count von Radziwill and Alexander Wolff – three cultural luminaries of their time. The goblet came from the personal collection of the German actor Pius Alexander Wolff (1782-1828), to whom it was given by Count Anton von Radziwill (1775-1833), a talented singer, virtuoso cello player and composer. Radziwill’s most important composition was the musical version of the renowned German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s (1749-1832) tragedy Faust. The goblet was a gift to commemorate the musical premiere of Goethe’s Faust in the Berlin palace of Count von Radziwill. The premiere took place during the occasion of the 50th birthday of Radziwill's wife, Princess Luise of Prussia on May 24, 1820. (2013.3.11, gift of the Ennion Society, H: 34 cm, Diam: 16.9 cm.)
Forget-Me-Not, Lilac and Morning Glory Vases
Union Glass Company was located in Somerville, Massachusetts and operated from 1854 through 1927. It was the first glassmaking venture for the Houghton Family, who owned and operated the company until 1864. The company’s product changed over the years from utilitarian glass such as lamps, pressed tableware, silvered glass, and industrial objects, to a more luxurious product of fine-quality lead blanks for cutting and colored art glass. These three green vases, although plain, represent an important aspect of Union’s business. Amongst the miscellaneous art glass produced at Union was a lucrative series of glass marketed to florists. “Garden” glass, as this line was also termed, comprised vases, bowls, decanters, and pitchers available to complement floral arrangements. The unique part of this line was designating names to certain shapes that held correlating flowers such as “Morning Glory,” “Lilac,” and “Forget-Me-Not.” Luxury goods like cut glass and exotic flowers were powerful symbols that conveyed social status in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The choice of flowers and the method in which they were displayed were the subject of many articles and books geared toward women in the mid-late nineteenth century. (2014.4.4; 2014.4.5, and 2014.4.6, purchased with funds from the Martha J. Herpst Estate. Dimensions vary.)
J. Gordon Guthrie stained glass design drawings
This recent addition to the Rakow Library collection was discovered in 1970 by chance in boxes left for garbage pick up outside the former residence of John Gordon Guthrie (1874-1961), a Scottish stained glass designer. Guthrie was a purist in stained glass tradition and was especially interested in 15th century style. He is best known for designing stained glass for American churches in the early twentieth century. The designer apprenticed at his father's studio in Glasgow, Scotland, before moving to New York City. He worked for several years with Louis Comfort Tiffany and later with Duffner & Kimberly, Henry Wynd Young and George Durhan & Sons Glass Works. The drawing is initialled "JGG" and dated "1930" in black ink in lower right corner. (CMGL 136664, 26 x 18 cm.)
Plinianae exercitationes in Caji Julii Solini Polyhistora (Extracts from Pliny in the Polyhistor of Gaius Iulius Solinus)
First published in 1629 by Claudius Salmasius, Plinianae exercitationes is a commentary on the Roman author Gaius Iulius Solinus’s Polyhistor, written about 200–250. Polyhistor, also known as De mirabilibus mundi (The wonders of the world), is a geographical survey of the history, customs, and products of different regions; it is best known today for introducing the term “Mediterranean Sea.” Solinus copied extensively from earlier authors, particularly Pliny’s encyclopedic Natural History, which includes the earliest and certainly the most complete contemporaneous account of glassmaking in the ancient world. Salmasius’s text comments on Pliny, including his description of glassmaking, through Solinus’s Polyhistor.
Plinianae exercitationes is considered one of the finest commentaries ever written about an ancient text. The Rakow’s recently acquired copy is the definitive second edition, printed in 1689. In the late 19th century, it was owned by classical scholar Robinson Ellis, who is noted for his work on the Latin poet Catullus; Ellis signed his name on the frontispiece with the date 1895. In the 20th century, the book was owned by renowned scholar George P. Goold , chief editor of the Loeb Classical Library series for 25 years. The book thus evokes nearly two millenniums of classical scholarship, beginning with Pliny’s Natural History, and reflects the continuum of the scholarly process to which the Museum’s former executive director David Whitehouse dedicated himself throughout his life. (CMGL 136005, Gift of Susan W. Schwartz in memory of David Whitehouse.)
About The Corning Museum of Glass
The Corning Museum of Glass is home to the world’s most important collection of glass, including the finest examples of glassmaking spanning 3,500 years. Live glassblowing demonstrations (offered at the Museum, on the road, and at sea on Celebrity Cruises) bring the material to life. Daily Make Your Own Glass experiences at the Museum enable visitors to create work in a state-of-the-art glassmaking studio. The campus in Corning includes a year-round glassmaking school, The Studio, and the Rakow Research Library, the world’s preeminent collection of materials on the art and history of glass. Located in the heart of the Finger Lakes Wine Country of New York State, the Museum is open daily, year-round. Kids and teens, 19 and under, receive free admission. www.cmog.org.
The Museum is currently adding a North Wing, designed by Thomas Phifer, which will open in late 2014. The 100,000-square-foot North Wing addition will include a new 26,000-square-foot contemporary art gallery building, as well as one of the world’s largest facilities for glassblowing demonstrations and live glass design sessions.