Chess Set

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Object Name: 
Chess Set
Place Made: 
Accession Number: 
Base W: 50 cm, D: 50 cm; Tallest Piece H: 19.8 cm
On Display
about 1981
Web Description: 
This chess set by the master glassblower and flameworker Gianni Toso is one of the most popular objects in the Museum. Toso, an Italian Jew, comes from a historic Venetian glassmaking family. The chess pieces are made in the form of Jewish (Hassidim) and Roman Catholic (Franciscan) figures. Their positioning on the chessboard was determined by the artist, and it is meant to reflect the opening up of dialogue between the two religions. Gianni Toso writes: "Reactions to the chess set depend on what people already have in their brains or hearts, so everyone has individual reactions when seeing this work, which can be provocative. On the Jewish side, the king is the written Law, the queen is the calendar that represents the Holy Shabbat. The two Hassidim holding the cedar and the palm represent the feast of Sukkot, which celebrates the first Holy Temple after the Jews escaped from Egypt. The two Hassidim with shofar (ram's horn) represent the natural strength that was used, instead of horses, to destroy the impenetrable walls of Jericho. The two Hassidim who carry Torah scrolls, given to Moshe (Moses) by the commandment of God, represent the people of Israel. As for the pawns, every Hassid represents the execution of a precept of Judaism. On the Roman Catholic side, the king, as the pope, is head of the church. The queen, or Sister, represents love for the church. The towers of two Franciscan friars, with large candles and candle holders, represent the rich. The two brothers, with a pot containing coals and incense, represent the faith of the common people in the search for a miracle. The two friars who carry the cross are symbolic of the Catholic faith. The pawns have candles, each of them a little deformed, because candles soften when you keep them in your hands for a long time."
Toso, Gianni (Italian, b. 1942), Former Collection
Primary Description: 
Chess Set. Glass chess set; black and white pieces; flameworked and cold-worked figures, cut and assembled chessboard.
The illustrated encyclopedia of glass (2011) illustrated, p. 258; BIB# 128671
Toso Chess Set (family) (2011)BIB# 134394
Toso Chess Set (adult) (2011)BIB# 134396
The Corning Museum of Glass (2009-03) illustrated, p. 10; BIB# AI98465
Modern and contemporary art glass (2006) illustrated, slide 62; BIB# 130418
Plastik sanatlarda cam malzemenin uygulanisi (2003) illustrated, p. 86, fig. 3.62; BIB# 120381
Contemporary Lampworking: A Practical guide to Shaping Glass in the Flame (1997) illustrated, p. 18;
Glass Art (1996) illustrated, p. 149; BIB# 36413
Judaica Under Glass (1990-10) pp. 44-48, esp. p. 46;
Recent Important Acquisitions, 24 (1982) illustrated, p. 114, #80; BIB# AI9252
The Corning Museum of Glass Annual Report 1981 (1982) illustrated, pp. 5, 11; BIB# AI97141