Friday, March 11, 2011

Bohemian Glass at The Glasmuseum, Passau Germany

The Glass Museum, die Glasmuseum Passau, is right across the street from the Neo-Gothic tower of the Altes Rathaus (see previous posting) in the Hotel Wilder Mann, overlooking the Danube River. Its exhibited Bohemian Glass collection is the largest in the world. We had heard about this several times and headed here to specifically see as much as we could of the four floors displaying all of the glassmaking periods up to the present time. In addition to Bohemian glass, there is a splendid collection of German (especially Bavarian), Austrian, English, and French, with the earliest pieces dating as far back as ancient Mesopotamia.

Here are the founders of the Museum, the Mr. and Mrs. Hoeitl, who made their first purchase in 1959 of a Mesopotamian glass container!

The many cases in and around the hotel's check-in desk display some of the foretastes to be seen in the museum, starting on the fourth floor and working downwards.  Here you see a photograph from the Museum's opening celebration in 1985 with our very own Neil Armstrong cutting the ribbon!

When we arrived upstairs on the fourth floor (thankfully, they had a lift for Mark although it only went to the 4th floor....not the other three), the ancient rooms had frescoes on the ceilings. Here's some of the ancient scenes of Passau (1644) above us:
We started at the earliest phase of glassmaking in the museum, Mesopotamia, to see the oldest glass in the world (some 5,000 years old)!
Still in gorgeous condition, these glass containers capture our attention!
There are other examples of old glass in this case, albeit just not quite as old as the Mesopotamian pieces.
Then, its on to the Baroque and Rococo Empire periods (1650 - 1820).
Examples of hyalith glass from Bohemia, Silesia, and Riesengebirge (1760-1790) are very thin glass with delicate gold paintings on them.
More early pieces, dating from the 1700-1760 period:

and additional examples from 1650-1780.
We'll highlight some of the other amazing pieces, but will leave it up to you to come here and see the amazing collection for yourself!

Here are some Baroque examples of bone powder milk glass with enamel from Bohemia, Saxony and Riesensgebirge. Gorgeous!
Numerous pieces of cut glass from Biedermeier and Empire period were exquisite. Here is an apple (most likely) with the stem and top of the fruit a lid. Imagine how this would reflect light all over the room if it were placed in sunshine!
Among the numerous examples of patentglas by Friedrich Egermann Boehmann (Biedermeier, 1810-1830) was this stunning container. Note the carefully painted landscapes on this jar.
Some delicately painted glasses from North Bohemia have incredible detail...
Example works by Gottlob Mohn (Dresden and Vienna) during the Biedermeier period include these delicately thin beakers. The one on the left says "Almanac for the year 1819".
And then, a carp appears--of such fame in the Czech Republic and throughout the countries of the former Habsberg and Austro-Hungarian Empires! This one actually seems to be alive, due to the thin and high quality glass in the beaker made by Anton Koffgasser of Vienna.
And then, some surprises of black gilt hyaliths from Count Buquoy (South Bohemia and Northern Austria.....near us!). The Count patented this process in the early 1800s. Aren't they stunning with the gold highlights and the dark black glass?
Then, moving on to red cut gilt hyalith glass--again from South Bohemia and northern Austria (right near us).
More colorful stone and bone glass from Count Buquoy's Glassworks--amazing colors!
Gold ruby glass after Kunckel's recipe (Bohemia and Silesia, Germany) had such dark ruby colors while the angles of the beakers reflect light in numerous ways.
Then we moved to examples of chartreuse Uranium glass and gold topaz, very reminiscent of American 'Depression Glass'....and, we were delighted to learn that many Bohemian and German companies that made this type of glass also exported it to America in the 1930s!
Chrysopras, uranium, and iron oxide green glasses from Bohemia, Riesengebirge (1830-1850):
Pink gold ruby glass from Bohemia, Silesia:
An elegant set of ink wells made of blue cobalt glass (Bohemia, Silesia, Bavaria)!
Colored glasses, cased cut and gilt!
Bohemian opaque-colored cut glass beakers...
Examples of tin-opaque and alabaster glasses from Bohemia and Bavaria:
Yellow etched crystal by Count Harrach Glassworks (Bohemia, Silesia)
There were numerous styles and types of cut & engraved reliefs and lithophany. Here's one of the Last Supper.
And then some absolutely astounding pieces that took our breath away....these beakers of lithophany!
There were numerous examples of ornate glass from European Courts. Many were exhibited at the Vienna World Exhibition in 1873. Notice that some (three pictures down) have snakes wrapped around them!
Much of the cut crystal glassware and chandeliers were in black rooms and backlit to highlight the delicate cuts to make each piece sparkle continuously! Other pieces (below) were etheric in the artistry.
This green glass caught our eyes...they're from Count Schaffgotsch Josephine Glassworks in Silesia.
Or how about pairs of vases for floral designing?
Some pieces were whimsical, like this elaborate vase painting of animals all dressed up!
Here's an elegant cake plate (especially for some of our friends who collect these!)...
Or how about a few small (!) containers with Indian design? These are actually ~1.5 meters tall!
These ladies say that you should come and visit the Glasmuseum in Passau, Germany....right away! It's lots of fun and will keep in you constant awe of the incredible historic talent that Bohemian, Austrian, and German glass artisans have had...and inspire you to visit current day Glassworks throughout Bohemia and Bavaria. 
Of course, current-day Glassworks will be visited soon and we'll show you some of their exquisite handiwork that continues these great traditions of artistic glassware!
We raise our glasses to all of them!

Disclaimer: This blog is not an official University of Minnesota or Fulbright Program blog. The views expressed are my own and not those of the Fulbright Program, the U.S. Department of State or any of its partner organizations, or the University of Minnesota.

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