They’re in a hurry, these three riders, urging their horses on with whip in hand. High peaks appear in the background, little clouds dancing above them to provide a rhythmic accompaniment of their vigorous haste. A painting? Yes, but done in miniature on transparent glass with a mere wisp of a brush. And this goblet’s circular curvature, which certainly made painting more difficult, gives rise to an interesting special effect: by turning the glass the scenery starts to move, as in a film.
The passing scenery is interrupted, however, by a coat of arms: the insignia of Count Johann Leopold von Paar (1693–1741), positioned proudly amidst the protective wings of the crowned, double-headed imperial eagle! And as if that weren’t enough, the artist also included the count’s initials, artfully woven into the vine pattern on the goblet’s base.
This goblet bears no specific reference to the artist himself: his signature consists simply in the painting style, which indicates beyond the shadow of a doubt that it is the work of Ignaz Preißler (1676–1755), who hailed from the border region between Bohemia and Silesia. As one of the most versatile and original artists of the 18th century’s first 40 years, Ignaz Preißler made his career in Breslau (today’s Wrocław) and—from 1729—in the Bohemian town of Kronstadt (today’s Kunštát u Orlického Záhoří). It was beneath his hands that the baroque genre of Hausmalerei reached its climax, and he left behind outstanding examples of the high art of black stain-painted Schwarzlot glass.
In German, schwarz means “black”. But Lot? This is a term that has long since disappeared from German-speakers’ active vocabularies, perhaps still being vaguely remembered as an old unit of measurement akin to a gram. Originally, back in the Middle Ages, the word Lot had referred to the strips of lead that framed glass panels, and the association between “lead” and “weight” then quite naturally caused these two ideas to mix—as did the metal oxides, glass powder, and binding agents that became the ingredients of a new material with which to paint: so-called Schwarzlot. This material proved ideally suited to the graphic decoration of glass, for it could be permanently fired in at temperatures as low as 600°C.
600°C could be managed by even a very small kiln, making it possible for artists to produce individual commissions at home rather than at the usual manufactories. Which was good when one thinks of the omnipresent ravages of the 30 Years’ War, which made staying put at home an attractive option indeed. No wonder, then, that this artistic technique first established itself in Nuremberg, since that city was also largely spared from fire and murder. And it was thus that one of the most productive and artistically fascinating forms of home-based work for men developed.
This glass will go up for bidding in the auction “Antiques” on 25 April 2018 at Auktionshaus im Kinsky.
Text: Marianne Hussl-Hörmann, Auktionshaus im Kinsky