The Collection of Erich Schuster
122nd Art Auction, Antiques, 25 April 2018

During the Biedermeier era, glass production in the Habsburg Monarchy’s numerous Bohemian glassworks took on a very specific and independent overall character thanks to technical innovations that came about between 1815 and 1848. Whether difficult glass cutting or fine, highly detailed painting, whether colourful cameo glass or deceptively stone-like lithyalin and hyalith glass, these products were of formidable variety and became hugely popular among European aristocrats during the Congress of Vienna as well as, more and more, among the rising bourgeoisie.

The 80 pieces in the Viennese collection of Erich Schuster represent an exquisite selection from this remarkable era. Schuster, however, decided last year to relinquish his objects to the market and thus to new collectors who will now continue upholding interest in and passion for glass. For Michael Kovacek, who has assisted and advised this collector over the past 40 years in his capacity as an experienced glass dealer of profound expertise, it is a great pleasure to have the privilege of offering these artistically valuable glass objects at Auktionshaus im Kinsky as part of its major April 2018 auction!

This collection presents rare glasses and chalices of glowingly bright colours as well as works done in various perennially fascinating stone-like glass varieties, the marbled appearance of which was first achieved in experiments by the glass artist Friedrich Egermann from Haida in northern Bohemia. Not to be missed, of course, are glasses with transparent painting by Anton Kothgasser (1769–1851), probably the most famous glass painter of his day. Alongside the motif of St. Stephen’s Cathedral, which has always been quite popular, Kothgasser’s glass cup with the motif showing birds behind the golden mesh of an aviary represents a true rarity.

Special mention is also due to the selection of engraved glass objects, particularly the portrait cup by Dominik Biemann (1800–1858), who engraved objects with portraits of seldom-seen perfection and refinement for the glass factory of Count Harrach in Karlsbad. Biemann, incidentally, was the only such artist who prepared his own drawings of his subjects, thereafter transferring them to glass in unique liveliness. Generally very hard to find, furthermore, are original works by Franz Paul Gottstein (1771–1848), who—like Karl Pfohl (1826–1894) later on—produced glass artworks delicately engraved with lively animal depictions.

A final special group is the collection of paperweights from the outstanding glass manufactories of Saint-Louis, Baccarat, and Clichy, as well as from Bohemia. Their artists were uniquely adept at filling these transparent, hollow glass balls with interior motifs done in the so-called millefiori technique from Venice, in which differently coloured glass canes are melted into the object like a mosaic, or with latticinio décor (from the Italian latte, “milk”), the thin, white glass threads of which create fascinating 3D effects. A specialty of the French manufactories in particular was the inclusion of remarkably realistic motifs from the world of plants and animals. Paperweights have been produced since the mid-19th century, and the fascination with their refined and creative patterns and techniques remains unbroken to this day.