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The History of Glass V8 | European Cut & Engraved Glass 1800-1950

European Cut & Engraved Glass 1800-1950 

By Dr Jessamy Kelly, glass artist and educator

In this post we will examine a range of European cut & engraved Glass from the Biedermeier period 1800 – 1950.

We will also look at some outstanding examples from the Viennese firm of J. and L. Lobmeyr who commissioned ground-breaking designs for their glass from the Wiener Werkstatte (Vienna Workshop), who were a group of early modernist architects and artists. 

Figure 1 Workshop of Friedrich Egermann, Goblet (about 1845). CMoG 79.3.523. Gift of The Ruth Bryan Strauss Memorial Foundation. Image licensed by The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY ( under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0.


The Biedermeier period relates to the first half of the 19th century and is an extravagant period, when cut crystal became very colourful throughout Europe. Decadent, over-sized goblets were made and liberal use of colour is really what makes this period stand out. Where previous cut-crystal styles were colourless, this period saw glass transformed to rich cobalt blues, ruby reds and emerald greens in stark, bold shapes. In the early 19th century, Bohemia was a centre for new developments in glass experimentation and was led by the innovative Bohemian glass maker Friedrich Egermann, who was internationally renowned for his experimentation in glass colouration. In 1818, Egermann invented a yellow-coloured stain made from silver chloride, which provided a thin layer of colour which could be engraved through. He went on to develop a ruby coloured stain using copper (see figure 1).

Glass that imitated other materials such as marble, agate, lapis and lacquerware was very popular during this period. In 1828, Egermann patented his process for producing Lithyalin glass, an opaque marbled product that was designed to resemble semi-precious stones (see figure 2). Shortly after this period, Agatine glass (see figure 3) was developed which had a very distinctive colour and surface finish close to agate.

A Lapis glass was also created during this period by Curt Schlevogt, made to look like lapis lazuli. Hyalith glasses were also produced to imitate red Chinese and black Japanese lacquerware. These glasses were mainly produced in Southern Bohemia, around 1825 onwards (figure 4). The allure of lacquerware as a new material to the West influenced the production of objects that imitated the orient.

Figure 4 Glassworks of the Count of Buquoy, Hyalith Beaker (about 1825–1840). CMoG 79.3.219. Bequest of Jerome Strauss. Image licensed by The Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY ( under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0

A revival of the art of glass engraving was initiated by Ludwig Lobmeyr, the owner of the renowned Viennese glass firm J. and L. Lobmeyr which was established in 1823. The firm showcased their glass at the Paris International Exhibition of 1867 and went on to establish Lobmeyr’s reputation as an international, exclusive retail store specialising in glass. They commissioned designs from the leading Viennese architects and painters of the time including artists from the Wiener Werkstätte (Vienna Workshop), the glass was made by the finest glass makers and craftsmen from across Bohemia and Austria. In 1912, Josef Hoffmann one of the founder members of the Wiener Werkstätte created the iconic ‘Series B’ glass collection for Lobmeyr. In 1914 he created a frosted version (Bronzit Series) with a black enamel decoration, which was originally sold through the Wiener Werkstätte shops (figure 5). This design became an international design classic and an early example of modernism. Finally, (figure 6) we see an outstanding set of wine glasses designed by Otto Prutscher, an Austrian architect and designer, who studied under Hoffmann. His unique geometric style employs the cameo process during which clear glass is encased with a layer of coloured glass which is then cut away to reveal the clear glass underneath.

In next month’s blog post we will explore a range of Factory art glass from the 20th century, a range of European glass designers and artists who worked with industry from the 1920s onwards. Including Simon Gate and Edward Hald from the Orrefors Glass Factory in Sweden; Kaj Franck, Timo Sarpaneva, and Tapio Wirkkala from the Ittala Glassworks in Finland and Pavel Hlava, Jan Kotik, Adolf Matura and Rene Roubicek from the Borske Sklo Glassworks, in the Czech Republic.

By Dr Jessamy Kelly

Jessamy Kelly is a glass artist and educator based in Edinburgh, she has worked as a freelance glass designer for Cumbria Crystal since 2016. She is the designer of the Loop and Palm collections.

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