Beaker with Hunting Scene

Object Name: 
Beaker with Hunting Scene

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Object Name: 
Beaker with Hunting Scene
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Overall H: 13.8 cm, Diam (max): 10 cm
On Display
about 1840
Credit Line: 
Gift of The Ruth Bryan Strauss Memorial Foundation
Web Description: 
In order to be fashionable, Bohemian glass of the Biedermeier period had to be heavy. Since no lead glass was made in Bohemia, weight was added to objects by accumulating glass and forming it into unusual shapes. The arched projections at the bottom of the beaker shown here seem particularly peculiar, but they were a fairly common feature of Bohemian Biedermeier glass. The subject of the engraved scene is a hunt on horseback or Parforcejagd, as it is called in German. In this form of hunting, a deer was chased by dogs. When the exhausted stag fell to the ground, it was killed with a long hunting knife. The engraving on the beaker shows the moment when the dogs overwhelmed the stag. One hunter is shown arriving on the scene, cracking his whip, but his horse has slowed to a trot. Another hunter signals his companions, who can be seen on the horizon. Several features make this engraving special among the countless 19th-century depictions of hunting scenes. First, the careful execution of even the smallest detail is unusual. The details of the hunter's face, which measures only about an eighth of an inch, are sharp and clear even when viewed through a magnifier. This reflects perfect craftsmanship, but the artistic merits go further. The naturalistic liveliness of the scene is especially intriguing. Although the arrangement of the figures is well planned, it looks accidental. Ornamental borders, which were an almost obligatory feature of Biedermeier decorative arts, are absent here so as not to distract the viewer's eye. The view looks almost like a photograph. This is particularly interesting because the glass is thought to have been engraved about 1835, the year the earliest known surviving photographic negative on paper was made by William Henry Fox Talbot. Four years later, the daguerreotype, another photographic process, was invented, and it was eventually used around the world. The engraver of the hunting beaker seems to have accurately sensed the direction in which art would go to create permanent impressions. Two closely related beakers are known. One is in the Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna, Austria, and the other was formerly in the Conrath Collection in Reichenberg/Liberec, Bohemia. All three are attributed to the Bohemian artist Dominik Biemann (1800–1857), who is considered to have been one of the best glass engravers of all time. Beginning in 1826, Biemann worked as a freelance glass engraver. He spent his summers working in the western Bohemian spa town of Franzensbad/Františkovy Lípa.
Christie, Manson & Woods Ltd, Source
Strauss Memorial Foundation, Ruth Bryan, Source
Primary Description: 
Colorless non-lead glass; blown, cut, engraved. Slightly tapered cylindrical bowl, with continuous minutely engraved scene of a stag hunt: a horseman atop a rocky outcropping sounds a hunting horn, and overlooks the scene of a stag attacked by nine dogs, another horseman races in from the right, his whip raised, and is followed by two more dogs; two other horsemen emerge from the hills in the background; naturalistic trees dot the landscape; the bowl constricted above a seven- sided section, with seven projecting rounded bosses, one on each face, each boss with oval rounded cut flute on the outer face and on the base; cross-hatch cutting on the bottom, with a small cut star at the center.
Corning Museum of Glass 2005-05-19 through 2005-10-30
Printmaking Techniques on Glass (2012) illustrated, p. 176;
Recent Important Acquisitions, 25 (1983) illustrated, p. 264, #22; BIB# AI98084
Fine English and Continental Glass (GILES Sale) (1982-02-09) lot 244; BIB# 4958