Published: March 13, 2001
Weighs a Ton, Costs a Million
The New Orleans Museum of Art Shows Off American Cut Glass
NEW ORLEANS, LA. – At the New Orleans Museum of Art through June 24, “Simply Brilliant: American Cut Glass, 1890-1915, from the Permanent Collection” will be shown in the Decorative Art’s Gallery, featuring glittery, diamond-like glass wares that reveals one of the great eras of American luxury glass production.
Owning a piece of American Brilliant period cut glass became synonymous with wealth and refined living at the end of the Twentieth Century. As Oscar Wilde once said in reference to this period in glass cutting, “No American table was fashionably set unless it weighed a ton and cost a million.”
The more than 50 pieces of glass on display are not only brilliant, but rich in history. The exhibition explains that the origins of glass cutting may reach as far back as the Fifteenth Century BC in Egypt. The pieces on view at NOMA, however, are from the American Brilliant Period, 1890-1915, which is considered the finest period of cut glass production in the long history of the craft.
The work by American glasshouses from the Brilliant Period was requested by prestigious people from all over the world including Tsar Nicholas II of Russia and president Mario Menocal of Cuba as well as American Presidents William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. American Brilliant Period glass was for the elite, and not, as NOMA’s curator of decorative arts, John Keefe, pointed out, “cut glass that your grandmother owned, unless of course your grandmother was a Rockefeller.”
Cut glass cigar humidors were extremely rare objects during Brilliant Period and NOMA’s exhibition features an impressive example. “Simply Brilliant” showcases diverse pieces that range in scale from footed punch bowls to powder jars, reflecting the enormous range of cut glass objects available from circa 1890 until World War I.
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