The decoration of this vase illustrates one of Jiri Harcuba’s characteristic approaches to engraving. In contrast to traditional Czech engraving, where complicated subjects are often elaborately and deeply cut, Harcuba’s design is reduced to its simplest elements, and just lightly scratched intro the surface of the glass. Harcuba believes that engraving should be as spontaneous as possible in order to preserve and communicate the energy of the design. One of his methods is to draw on the surface of the glass, rather than to sculpt it. A renowned engraver and teacher, Jirí Harcuba learned engraving at a local training school in Harrachov before attending the Specialized School of Glassmaking in Nový Bor from 1945 to 1948. He then worked in the studio of the Karel Štipl at Academy of Applied Arts in Prague, until 1954. Karel Štipl, and especially Josef Kaplický, were important and respected teachers at the Academy of Applied Arts. In 1961, Harcuba began his career as a teacher at the Academy of Applied Arts, and he was invited to teach at the Royal Academy of Art, in London, from 1965 to 1966. In the early 1970s, he was fired from his teaching job at the Academy and he was held as a political prisoner for designing a medal that openly criticized the occupation of Czechoslovakia by Russian troops. Despite his troubles with the Communist Czech government, he received many awards. In 1965, 1968, 1971, and 1976, he placed first in competitive exhibitions in Czechoslovakia, and he was invited to participate in Expo ’67 in Montreal. The American Numismatic Society honored Harcuba in 1988 for lifetime achievement in the art of medals. The Corning Museum of Glass presented him with the Rakow Award for Excellence in the Art of Glass in 1995. In the last 20 years, his work has been exhibited in galleries and museums in Europe and the United States. Harcuba is the last outstanding portrait engraver in Europe and he holds workshops at glass studios around the world to pass on the difficult techniques of glass engraving to a new generation of artists.