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Journal of Glass Studies, Vol. 48

In this volume, William Gudenrath, resident adviser at The Studio of The Corning Museum of Glass, offers an extended discussion of the ways in which enameled glass vessels were decorated from 1425 B.C.E. to 1800. James W. Lankton and Laure Dussubieux analyze and interpret early glass from South and Southeast Asia. And Hedvika Sedlackova looks at medieval glass finds in Moravia. Also included is a listing, with pictures, of recent important acquisitions.

Table of Contents and Abstracts

Glass Vessels from the Reign of Thutmose III and a Hitherto Unknown Glass ChalicePaul T. Nicholsonp. 11

Interest in early Egyptian glass has increased considerably in recent years. This article examines the evidence for some of the earliest glass in Egypt, particularly that relating to the reign of Thutmose III. The “chalice” is an especially distinctive and rare form of this glass. The article also identifies what may be a hitherto unrecognized chalice dating from the reign of Thutmose III, now in the collection of Harrow School in the United Kingdom. In attempting to determine the possible origin of this object, other vessels from the reign of Thutmose III are examined and their attribution is discussed.

Enameled Glass Vessels, 1425 B.C.E.–1800: The Decorating ProcessWilliam Gudenrathp. 23

Enamels are colored vitreous compounds that are applied in a liquid form to a cold object, then fired at a high temperature for permanence. Their use in decorating glass vessels apparently began in Egypt during the 15th century B.C.E. Since the 15th century C.E., enameling has been widely and continuously employed in Venice and many other glassmaking centers. Today, it remains one of the most popular means of adding decoration to the surfaces of both inexpensive and precious glass vessels. In principle, the process is straightforward and rather obvious, but close inspection of a wide variety of historical objects and attentive reading of some period-source descriptions reveal some surprising complexities.

Before the 19th century, glass vessels decorated with enamels were fired by reintroducing the objects into the furnace while they were held securely with a tool (usually a pontil). During this high-fire process, the vessels softened to the point that, without the intervention of highly skilled glassworkers, they would have collapsed under their own weight. The effects of the process can be seen in the appearance of decoration under additions, the distortion either of the decoration by stretching or of the vessel wall, and the presence of double pontil marks.

The invention of low-fire enamels sometime in the 19th century put an end to the difficult and perilous practice of furnace-firing glass vessels. Because the enamels were carefully and successfully engineered to fuse at a temperature below the softening point of the glass from which the vessels had been made, the firing could now take place while the objects were sitting in a kiln.

The ability to accurately discern the method by which an object was fired (that is, determining whether it was decorated with high-fire or low-fire enamels) is very helpful in dating and authenticating historical objects. Historians, curators, conservators, and others who are engaged in fully describing artifacts should welcome it as a valuable new area of investigation.

Glass Analyses from Mycenaean Thebes and Elateia: Compositional Evidence for a Mycenaean Glass IndustryKalliopi Nikita and Julian Hendersonp. 71

This article deals with the occurrence of Mycenaean glass and frit jewelry from palatial buildings at Thebes (about 1340/1330–1190/1180 B.C.) and the cemetery at Elateia (about 1425/1390–1000/950 B.C.). The results of electron-probe microanalyses are used as a means of defining Mycenaean glass technology within the broader context of glass technology in the Late Bronze Age Mediterranean. The chemical analyses have provided evidence for the raw materials employed in the manufacture, and it has been possible to suggest models for Mycenaean glass production.

Primary glass production is suggested because clear compositional differences from Middle Eastern and Egyptian glasses have been observed. The base-glass composition of most Mycenaean glass is a plant-ash type that has lower magnesium oxide levels than those found in Egyptian and Mesopotamian glasses. Explanations are offered for these compositional differences. A high compositional variation observed in the cobalt blue glasses reflects the use of various cobalt sources, possibly added to the base plant-ash glass at primary production centers. A good number of mixed-alkali Elateia blue glasses could also be distinguished from Italian and other examples, and there is evidence of the use of a different cobalt source. This provides further evidence for the primary production of glass in Mycenaean Greece.

Early Glass in Asian Maritime Trade: A Review and an Interpretation of Compositional AnalysesJames W. Lankton and Laure Dussubieuxp. 121

The authors reviewed more than 1,000 published and unpublished chemical analyses of glass from archaeological sites ranging from South and Southeast Asia to Korea and dating from the fourth century B.C.E. to the seventh century C.E. Ninety percent of the samples fit into one of four major compositional families, each with particular geographical, technological, and chronological characteristics. Three of the four groups are mineral-alkali glasses, with two based on soda (Na2O) as the primary alkali, and one based on potash (K2O). The most common of the mineral-soda glasses, which is also the most common type in Asia in general, is high-alumina (Al2O3) soda glass with moderate lime (CaO) and potash and low magnesia (MgO). The other mineral-soda glass is similar in composition to Mediterranean glasses from the same period, and at least some of this glass was imported from Egypt or the Levantine coast. The third soda group is a plant-ash glass that we identify with glass produced in Sasanian-controlled Mesopotamia in the mid-first millennium C.E. There is one large family of potash glasses, and we interpret the variations within this group as indicating three possible sites of production, with two of these in Southeast Asia.

Three less common groups, making up the other 10 percent of the samples, allow some insight into how glassmaking technology may have been applied to locally available raw materials. In addition, they provide compositional evidence that two types of glass may have been made and worked near the ancient southern Indian port of Arikamedu. The authors conclude with a “weighted algorithm” for placing unknown glass samples into one of the compositional categories, with the hope that such identification will encourage the study and interpretation of this important class of archaeological data.

Late Hellenistic Glass from Kos, Dodecanese, GreecePavlos Triantafyllidisp. 145

In a rescue excavation southwest of the port of Thermai in the ancient city of Kos, a significant, closely dated group of tableware fragments was found in a large pit deposit dating from the late second century to the third quarter of the first century B.C. These cast glass vessels represent all of the known groups of Syro-Palestinian production: grooved bowls of conical, ovoid, deep hemispherical, shallow hemispherical, and subhemispherical form, with a few undecorated conical bowls. Vessels with geometric and vegetal decoration on the exterior are rare, as are fluted bowls with grooved petals or vegetal and geometric engraved decoration. They were probably made in a glass workshop in the Aegean or in the wider area of the eastern Mediterranean. No blown glass was found.

Roman Glass from Grave Groups at Libarna (In Italian)Fedora Filippip. 163

This article describes glass objects found in Libarna in northwestern Italy, in tombs dating from the Roman imperial period. This area is today known as Serravalle Scrivia, located near Genoa on the Via Postumia. The objects are small containers dated between the Flavian period and the first half of the second century. These vessels are rarely found in the western part of the Roman Empire, and they permit us to study relationships between production in the Roman east and west.

Of particular note is a bottle from Tomb 18. Its form seems to be a “flat” variant of the aryballos Isings 61, and it is a forerunner of similar containers found in Germany and Gallia.

A small bottle from Tomb 20 is decorated with protuberances that indicate possible links with eastern artifacts and with a later style typical of the Renanian area.

Finally, a carved chalice from Tomb 22, which dates to about the first half of the second century, documents the distribution of these containers. Made in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, it is probably Egyptian in form, and it was found along the coast of southern France.

Early Medieval Glass from Excavations at Torcello and San Francesco del Deserto (Venice) (In Italian)Margherita Ferrip. 173

This article focuses on glass fragments found during excavations conducted by the Soprintendenza ai Beni Archeologici del Veneto on the islands of Torcello and San Francesco del Deserto (Venice) during the 1990s. Evidence of early medieval settlement on these islands has been found. One aim of the research has been to construct formal typologies of glass vessels found in the lagoon. In addition to suggesting how various kinds of table vessels (goblets, beakers, cups, and bottles) evolved, the article offers typologies of lighting vessels and glass building materials.

This information has been used to reconstruct the socioeconomic context for the circulation of glass vessels in the Venetian lagoon between the fourth and eighth centuries.

A Review of Ninth- to Mid-16th-Century Glass Finds in MoraviaHedvika Sedláčkováp. 191

Glass has been found in Moravian castles, convents, and towns. The main finds from before the end of the 12th century were small pieces of glass jewelry. During the period of the Great Moravian Empire, hollow glass was imported to the region. Imported vessels in a variety of shapes began to appear in southern Moravia in the first half of the 13th century. The author believes that glass was imported to the region mainly from Italy and, later (in the mid-13th and early 16th centuries), also from Germany. From the mid-14th century onward, there were glassworks in Silesia and Moravia that produced vessels for home use. Until the Hussite Wars, local glass was imported from Bohemia.

Post-Medieval Colored Lead Glass VesselsIngeborg Kruegerp. 225

In the last few decades, it has become increasingly evident that lead silicate glass was used for vessels as well as for such small objects as artificial gems and beads. Such vessels are known from many periods and regions, including medieval Europe. This article draws attention to the fact that vessels of colored lead silicate glass were also blown in post-medieval Europe. The first specimens that have been identified, all of them emerald green, are presented. However, there are indications that bright yellow examples were made as well.

The Reverse Painting on Glass Massacre of the Holy Innocents in The Corning Museum of Glass (In German)Frieder Ryserp. 243

In the collection of The Corning Museum of Glass is a reverse painting on glass that depicts the Massacre of the Holy Innocents. This painting is dated 1526 but unsigned. The artist would have chosen glass as a support because he wanted to create a special work of art that was lustrous and reflective, with a subtle play of light. This would allow viewers to perceive not only the picture itself but also their own mirror image and that of the surrounding room. It is these qualities that make reverse paintings a suitable medium for devotional pictures.

The painting was probably part of an altarpiece that consisted of several reverse-painted panels. One such altarpiece is in the Museum Catharijneconvent in Utrecht. On the basis of its style, the Corning panel can be attributed to the painter and glass painter Thomas Schmid. He was born in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, about 1490, and he died there between 1550 and 1560. Murals painted by Schmid can still be seen in the monastery of Sankt Georgen in Stein am Rhein, Switzerland.

Eiland: Georg Gundelach and the Glassworks on the Děčín Estate of Count Maximilian Thun-HohensteinMartin Mádl and Jerzy J. Kunicki-Goldfingerp. 255

This article discusses a group of luxury vessels made of glass that is now crizzled. These objects are hot-worked and decorated with engraved motifs of coats of arms and monograms that allow us to date them to about 1675 and after 1688. We believe that these vessels were produced at the Eiland glassworks on the Děčín estate of Count Maximilian Thun-Hohenstein, which was founded by the famous Hessian glassmaker Georg Gundelach in 1675. Goblets that are decorated with the coats of arms of Count Lodron and Matthias von Plönstein may have been among the items listed as “Stelzen Glaßern” in the Eiland accounts after 1675. They may have been made when the glassworks was directed by Gundelach. They can be considered an important link between the furnace production of glass in Venetian style and the original central European production of crystal decorated with cutting and high-quality wheel engraving, which was predominant in the 18th century.

Pietro Bigaglia, Versatile Murano Businessman (In Italian)Paolo Zecchinp. 279

Pietro Bigaglia, a Muranese glassmaker who was active in the first half of the 19th century, is famous for his blown glass with colored filigree (which includes circular panes for windows) and his glass that resembles granite. The latter can be noted among objects in the Murano Museum of Glass that were gifts of the maker and a later patron. Bigaglia is known to have displayed his glass at the Viennese exposition of 1845. These works included paperweights with slices and lengths of filigree and millefiori canes, which inspired French and Bohemian paperweight makers.

Bigaglia produced these works in a little factory built in the storeroom of his home in Venice. He employed two Muranese glassmakers who had earlier worked for Domenico Bussolin, but he himself paid particular attention to the composition of the glass, including aventurine, of which he was the most famous producer. With his aventurine and colored enamels, which were initially cut in straight lines but later cleverly crafted in curved lines, he made inlaid tables, paperweights, and pictures. For Bigaglia, this was nothing more than a hobby, since his main activity was the creation of enamels, canes, and glass beads in his factory on the island of Murano.

Although the lists of objects displayed by Bigaglia in exhibitions and donated to the Murano museum are sometimes hard to decipher (and entirely without drawings to assist the researcher), this information can be helpful in determining the extent of his production.

Plant Ashes from Syria and the Manufacture of Ancient Glass: Ethnographic and Scientific AspectsYoussef Barkoudah and Julian Hendersonp. 297

Alkali-rich plant ashes were mainly used in the manufacture of Bronze Age, Sasanian, Islamic, and Venetian glasses. In this article, the authors discuss ethnographic evidence for the use of plant ashes for glass production in the Middle East and its relevance to the study of ancient glass. Some potassium-, sodium-, and alkali-rich plant species from contrasting geological locations in Syria were chemically analyzed. This is the first such survey, and it demonstrates the overriding importance of the geology in determining the chemical composition of the plant ash. It also shows that heavy metals are accumulated in the plants, possibly providing the trace levels detected in plant-ash glasses. The study reveals that a number of soda-rich plant types, especially of the genus Salsola, could have been used in ancient glass production. It also established the (low) compositional variability in plant ashes for the same species growing in a small area.

Notesp. 325

A Unique Late Hellenistic Glass Bowl from Kalymnos (Dodecanese, Greece)
A Rare Domed Windowpane Fragment from the Roman Baths in Heerlen
Six pièces de surtout attribuées à Bernard Perrot, vers 1670
Philadelphia Museum of Art Enhances Collection of English Drinking Glasses
Rakow Library’s 2005 Additions Include Carder Notebooks, Industrial Fair Guides
Web Site Features Wolf Collection Objects
Book on Beirut Glass, Database Receive Rakow Grant Support
Recent Important Acquisitions
Rudy Eswarin (1918–2006)
Joseph Philippe (1919–2006)
Frieder Ryser (1920–2005)
A.E.A. Werner (1911–2006)

Contributorsp. 323
Recent Important Acquisitionsp. 347
Note to Authors and Readersp. 362
Museum Publicationsp. 364
Abstractsp. 371

347 pages
Corning Museum of Glass
Publication Year: 

Journal of Glass Studies, Vol. 48