Sometimes arts really do become lost

31 Jul

When I came across the following article in the December 1930 issue of Popular Mechanics, I was intrigued:

MODELING GLASS FLOWERS SOON TO BE A LOST ART

The world is about to list another lost art, one that came into being less than half a century ago and yet is doomed to pass within a few short years. For Rudolph Blaschka, maker of the famous glass models of flowering plants in the Ware collection at Harvard University, has passed his seventy-third birthday and feels that he has few more working years ahead of him. And there is no one else in the world who knows how to make glass flowers like his. Many master workers have tried to duplicate the products of the art started by Leopold Blaschka, father of Rudolph, forty-five years ago. All of them have failed. For a Blaschka mode is as the flower itself; root, stalk and bloom are there in faithful detail.

Just recently, there arrived from the Blaschka studio at Hosterwitz, near Dresden, Germany, a consignment of twenty-five specimens representing the entire product of six years’ work by the artist-glassworker.    Perhaps another genius, capable of carrying on the work, will rise alter Rudolph Blaschka has passed on. He has promised to leave behind complete written details of how the glass is fused upon the tiny wires and how the coloring is attained. But Louis Bierweiler, who is devoting his life to the preservation and cataloging of the collection, as the Blaschkas have to it creation, points out that even with this detailed information at his command, it will take a most extraordinary person to add to the collection specimens worthy of a place beside the work of the two masters.

However, it turns out that was correct. The glass flowers of the Wade collection have become famous and would certainly on my “must see” list if I was visiting the American Cambridge. (If I was visiting the British Cambridge, I’d want to see my father’s college).

This from Wikipedia:

The Glass Flowers, formally The Ware Collection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants, is a famous collection of highly-realistic glass botanical models at the Harvard Museum of Natural History at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

They were made by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka from 1887 through 1936 at their studio in Hosterwitz, Germany, near Dresden. They were commissioned by Professor George Lincoln Goodale, founder of Harvard’s Botanical Museum, for the purpose of teaching botany, and financed by Goodale’s former student, Mary Lee Ware and her mother, Elizabeth Ware. Over 3000 models, of 847 different plant species, were made.

According to Rossi-Wilcox, the question people most often ask after seeing them is, “‘Where are the glass flowers?’ Because nobody can believe these are made of glass.”

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