A Life in Archaeology and Glass: Honoring David Whitehouse (1941-2013)

A Life in Archaeology and Glass: Honoring David Whitehouse (1941-2013)

March 14–15, 2014

This seminar honors the life and work of our former executive director and friend David Whitehouse, and celebrates his scholarship in glass, ceramics, and archaeology.

The program begins with a free, public keynote lecture at 6 pm on Thursday, March 13, by Paul Roberts, senior curator, head of the Roman Collections, Greek and Roman Department at The British Museum. Roberts will speak on themes related to his 2013 British Museum exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

The next two days will be filled with lectures, reminiscences, and time with many of David’s colleagues and friends.

All sessions take place in the Auditorium of The Corning Museum of Glass, unless otherwise noted. Schedule is subject to change.

Rakow Research Library Hours (during the seminar only)
Thursday 9am-6pm
Friday 9am–7pm
Saturday closed
Sunday 9am–5pm

Thursday, March 13

Come early for a free Behind the Glass lecture featuring Dr. Paul Roberts, Senior Curator, Head of the Roman Collections, Greek and Roman Department at The British Museum. Dr. Roberts will speak on themes related to his 2013 British Museum exhibition Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum.

Friday, March 14

Registration, coffee and light breakfast

Karol Wight, Executive Director and Curator of Ancient and Islamic Glass, Corning Museum of Glass

Memories of a Mentor and Friend
Lisa Pilosi, Conservator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ancient Glass

A New Roman Inlaid Bowl at The Corning Museum of Glass:  Interpretation, Conservation, and Manufacture
William Gudenrath, Resident Advisor, The Studio, Corning Museum of Glass
Karol Wight, Executive Director and Curator of Ancient and Islamic Glass, Corning Museum of Glass
Stephen Koob, Chief Conservator, Corning Museum of Glass
In 2012, The Corning Museum of Glass acquired a significant Roman inlaid bowl, the first nearly intact example of the type to survive from antiquity (2012.1.1). Against a background of a dark, aubergine glass, a fantastic scene of a Nilotic landscape is inlaid in the form of colorful birds, a dragonfly, plants, and flowers. After a few months on display, the bowl was sent to the Museum’s conservation department for disassembly, cleaning, study, and reassembly. While in conservation, the bowl was closely examined to determine its method of manufacture, and to analyze the different types of glass used in its construction. The papers presented will discuss the bowl’s historical background, its conservation treatment, and investigations into its manufacture.

Observations about a Mold-pressed Bowl Fragment in The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Christopher S. Lightfoot, Curator, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
The fragment under observation is made of thick opaque white glass, and is unusual in a number of respects—technique, decoration, function, and attribution. Each of these aspects will be discussed in an attempt to set the piece in its proper context


Byzantine and Islamic Glass

Glass of Knights, Merchants and Laymen—Crusader Glass from the Holy Land
Yael Gorin-Rosen, Head of the Glass Department, Israel Antiquities Authority
Two hundred years of Crusader occupation in the Holy Land have left civil, religious, and military architecture—including fortifications, churches, ports, cities and villages—as well as a widely diverse material culture, including glass artifacts. This paper will present the daily wares, most of which were probably locally manufactured; the luxurious vessels; and some decorated windowpanes, all found in well documented excavations, conducted by the Israel Antiquities Authority in Israel during the last three decades. Previous publications will be summarized, but most of the material is yet unpublished. The focus will be on several assemblages unearthed at the beautiful and prosperous port city of Akko-Acre, which was first occupied by the Crusaders in 1104, and fell with Jerusalem in 1187. The city was rebuilt in 1191 as the capital of the Second Crusader Kingdom and flourished until its fall on May 28, 1291.
Among the glass vessels are some with marvered decoration and gilding, and a rather diverse group of vessels with enameled decoration and gilding. A few types, which have, so far, been known only in the West, were found at Akko and are the first to be identified in the East. The discussion will try to follow the relations between East and West during the Crusader period, one of David Whitehouse's fields of study.

Coincidental Developments? Mamluk and Venetian Glass 1275-1425
Rachel Ward, Independent Scholar
This lecture will explore parallels in the shapes, techniques, and decoration of Mamluk and Venetian enameled glass that demand explanation. Did similar technology evolve independently at either end of the Mediterranean? If not, what were the connections? How do they help us with the chronology of the material in both Venice and the Mamluk Empire?

Lunch break

Sasanian Glass from the Caucasus, Mesopotamia and Gilan
St John Simpson, Assistant Keeper, Department of the Middle East, The British Museum
Cut glass is one of the famous products associated with the Sasanian empire, which alternately rivalled and threatened Rome between the third and early seventh centuries. Many pieces are known from the art market and said to come from the Gilan region of northwest Iran. This paper compares these with excavated examples from the Caucasus and Mesopotamia, and concludes with some new thoughts about the origins of the pieces reported from Iran.

Working with David
Amy Schwartz, Director of Education and The Studio, Corning Museum of Glass
While we all knew David Whitehouse as an accomplished archaeologist, scholar, and director, he was also remarkably original, innovative, and forward thinking. He played an integral role in the development and growth of The Studio, the Museum’s glassmaking school. This lecture will recount the beginnings of The Studio and David’s involvement. Over the years, he provided valuable support to the many artists who came through The Studio, creating a lasting legacy in the art world and beyond.


2pm (At The Studio)
Demonstration for a Friend
Lino Tagliapietra, artist
David Whitehouse was intrigued by contemporary artists with a link to history. He especially admired the talents of his treasured friend, Lino Tagliapietra. One of the Studio Glass Movement giants, Tagliapietra creates work rooted in Venetian tradition, but innovative in style and depth. This is a unique opportunity to watch Tagliapietra create original work in honor of his dear friend.
A simulcast of this demonstration will also be available to view in the Auditorium.

4pm (Rakow Library Entrance)
Dedication of Memorial Terrace 
Marie McKee, President, Corning Museum of Glass
Frank W. Grauman, FAIA, LEED AP, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson
Elizabeth Whitehouse

Reception to follow.

Dinner (on your own)

Saturday, March 15


Amy Schwartz, Director of Education and The Studio, Corning Museum of Glass

Venetian Glass

Two Masterpieces of Glass from the Waddesdon Bequest in the British Museum
Dora Thornton, Curator of Renaissance Europe, Curator of the Waddesdon Bequest, The British Museum
Andrew Meek, Scientist, The British Museum
This lecture explores the Waddesdon Bequest, comprised of rare Venetian turquoise glass of c 1500 and Bohemian opal glass of the late 1600s. The presenters have analyzed the metal in each type of glass, and have completed new historical research on both pieces.
This lecture will place both types of glass in their intellectual and historical context as virtuoso masterpieces of the kind found in European Kunstkammern from around 1500.
It will discuss the recipes used to make the turquoise and white glass, how they are connected to cristallo glass, and how this potentially relates to contemporary glass made in the Middle East. They will also explore the composition of the enamels and how they relate to the compositions found by Isabelle Biron, et al., in Paris. For the opal glass, we will see how its compositional characteristics very clearly reflect the recipe/raw materials published for the Buquoy glasshouse in Glass of the Alchemists, and can easily be differentiated from the recipes used in Venice at the same time.

Lady Layard and Mr. Arbib
Rosa Barovier Mentasti, Independent Scholar
Lady Mary Enid Layard’s journal, kept in the British Library, covers 51 years, from 1869—when she married Sir Austen Henry Layard, English archaeologist and diplomat—until 1912, when she died in Venice. Her diary is an interesting source about Venetian life and glass production in Murano.
In 1866, Sir Layard had become a partner in the Venice and Murano Glass and Mosaic Company together with some English investors and Antonio Salviati, and in 1871 he bought the Venetian palazzo Cappello, where the couple finally retired. Lady Layard promoted glass and mosaics produced by the Company to her international noble friends visiting Venice. She lived in palazzo Cappello after her husband’s death and continued to be involved in the Company’s business.
In October 1903, Salvatore Arbib was introduced to Lady Layard and he was a partner of the Company between 1903 and  1907. He donated works of decorative art to Museo Archeologico in Venice, to the Museo Vetrario at Murano, and to the British Musem in London. One of his relatives donated a pattern book of the Company to the V&A in 1963.


European Glass

Family Connections: The Formative Years of Beilby Enameled Glass, 1760–1765
Simon Cottle, Departmental Director of Continental Ceramics and Glass, Bonhams, London
Of all 18th-century English glass, the goblets, wine glasses, and other table glass decorated in enamels by the Beilby Workshop in Newcastle-upon-Tyne are considered to be among the most interesting. With stories now emerging from the origins of many of the highly elaborate and colorful heraldic examples found in collections in America and elsewhere, the significance of a wide network of family influences has become much more apparent. Some of the relevant stories will be related and the influences examined in this presentation, which focuses on the first five years of their enamel production.

Júlia Báthory
John P. Smith, Independent Scholar
Júlia Báthory (1901–2000) was a fine designer, teacher, and engraver, in an almost entirely male environment, who devoted her whole life to glass, and who would have been widely acknowledged during her life time, were it not for the political situation in middle Europe during the second half of the 20th century.
Born into a well-to-do family near Budapest, she studied art in Budapest and Munich (Staatschule für Angewendte Kunst), where she became interested in glass decoration and design. In 1930, she exhibited in Paris with Imre Huszár, Art Deco sculptor and one of the members of UAM (Union des Artistes Moderne), and decided to move there. We are fortunate that she shared an apartment with a photographer André Kertés. Original glass plates still survive—as do original drawings, plans, and designs—made by Báthory herself. She designed engraved glass panels for buildings and vases for the likes of Chanel. She had her own exhibitions and even designed a radio. In Paris in 1933, Báthory built one of the first sandblasting cabinets for deep abrasive, monumental glasswork. The paper presented at this lecture explores her life and work. One of Báthory’s step-grandchildren is the joint author of the paper.
This talk will be illustrated with original photographs of her work taken throughout her life.

Lunch break

1:30pm (At The Studio)
The Art of Experiment
William Gudenrath, Resident Advisor, The Studio, Corning Museum of Glass
David Whitehouse’s colleague and friend William Gudenrath will recreate a selection of historical objects at the glass furnace. Ranging in origin from the Roman Period through the early 18th century, the methods used will be soundly based on practical research carried out over the last 30 years or so. David was of invaluable help in many of these endeavors, sharing information and wise skepticism (not infrequently), as well as giving support and providing unfailing enthusiasm.
A simulcast of this demonstration will also be available to view in the Auditorium.


The Blaschkas’ Botanical Models: A Lifelong Passion
Susan Rossi-Wilcox, Independent Scholar
Susan M. Rossi-Wilcox will discuss the history and artistry of Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka’s Glass Flower models at Harvard. The more than 4,000 scientifically accurate and breathtakingly beautiful flameworked botanicals were made between 1886 and 1936. They illustrate pollination mechanisms, fruit diseases, carnivorous species, and the sex life of mosses and ferns. The collection was highlighted in two major exhibitions at the Corning Museum.

Blaschka Glass: Materials and Preservation
Astrid van Giffen, Assistant Conservator, Corning Museum of Glass
The Blaschkas were a father and son team of glass workers known for their incredible life-like models of invertebrate animals and plants made in the late 19th and early 20th century. This lecture will present an overview of their works as well as their working techniques and materials and how these aspects affect the preservation and conservation of their creations.


Mining the Past: The Re-use and Recycling of Roman Glass through 2,000 Years
Ian Freestone, Professor of Archaeological Materials and Technology, University of London
The Roman glass industry was of such a scale, and its products of such quality, that it provided raw materials for European windows, vessels, and jewelry for up to a millennium. It appears that old glass may have been removed from buildings on a massive scale.  Even today, jewelry made using “Roman” glass, excavated in Israel, is widely available on the internet. Chemical analysis provides us with many insights into these processes, but areas of controversy remain. This lecture provides an outline of the evidence for the recycling of Roman glass, both in the Roman period and later.

Chemical Analysis of Early Islamic Glass from Nishapur
Mark Wypyski, Research Scientist, The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Excavations at the site of the city of Nishapur, conducted by the Iranian Expedition of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1935 to 1940, and in 1947 uncovered thousands of artifacts, including hundreds of glass finds dated mainly to the 9th to 10th century.  Compositional analysis of some of the glass was performed with X-ray microanalysis (SEM-EDS/WDS) to determine the major and minor components of the glass, revealing that nearly all have soda-lime-silica compositions with relatively high magnesium and potassium, thought to be due to the use of plant ash as one of the raw materials in the glass production.
Based on the ratios of some of the main elements, the majority of the glasses appear to fit into one of three main compositional groups. These different types probably represent glasses made with different sources of raw materials, and may be representative of different regional primary glass sources, as has been proposed for groups of first millennium natron glasses. The results of LA-ICP-MS trace element analysis appear to confirm the validity of the compositional groupings as defined by the major and minor elements, but also raises some intriguing questions. The different compositional types are compared to the findings on pre-Islamic and Islamic glass from other sites, and may point to the sources of the different types of glass found, with implications about the trade in glass during the early Islamic period. 

Concluding remarks

Reception in the ancient gallery

Dinner in the Museum lobby