Published: February 26, 2008
From 1880 to the outbreak of World War I, American brilliant-cut glass was a popular luxury product among the country’s elite. Characterized by its elaborate, deeply cut and highly polished patterns that often covered the object’s entire surface, brilliant-cut glass was ordered by American presidents and prominent industry leaders alike. More than 100 superb examples of these objects are on view in the new exhibition “The Brilliant Period of American Cut Glass” at the Mint Museum of Art through August 17.
The exhibition showcases dazzling bowls, trays, vases, stemware, decanters and even a bowling pin made from brilliant-cut glass. The largest object is a two-piece punch bowl 18 inches in diameter, while one of the smaller works is a champagne tumbler that was part of a table service for President Benjamin Harrison. All of the objects on view were lent by members of the Carolinas Chapter of the American Cut Glass Association.
While admired by fashionable consumers everywhere, the glass was largely produced in just a few key centers. The principal manufacturers were sprinkled through the northeastern portion of the United States, with a particular concentration in the small city of Corning, N.Y. One section of the exhibition highlights the artistic and technical contributions made by three of the most important of these Corning companies: J. Hoare, T.G. Hawkes and H.P. Sinclaire.
C. Dorflinger of White Mills, Penn., and Libbey Glass Company of Toledo, Ohio, are likewise examined for their notable accomplishments within the American cut-glass industry.
The second section of the exhibition focuses on the labor-intensive techniques used to create these beautiful objects.
“The designers who created the patterns and the craftsmen who cut the glass were highly skilled and very innovative,” said Brian Gallagher, curator of decorative arts at the Mint Museum. “American brilliant-cut glass truly earned the respect and admiration of people both here and abroad, and the Mint is extremely fortunate that so many superlative examples are in private collections nearby,” he added.
The Mint Museum of Art is 2730 Randolph Road. For information, 704-337-2009 or www.mintmuseum.org .
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