Thursday, May 10th: Blaschka: Glass Creatures of the Ocean

Blaschka: Glass Creatures of the Ocean
Observatory (543 Union St., Brooklyn)

Although more famously know for the making the glass flowers exhibited at the Harvard Museum of Natural History, the father and son partnership of Leopold (1822-1895) and Rudolf (1857-1939) Blaschka also made numerous marine invertebrate glass models. Some of the first models they made were sea anemones in the early 1860’s. The Natural History Museum (NHM), London purchased their first set around 1865 and holds over 185 Blaschka glass models consisting of anemones, sea slugs, jellyfish, octopus, squid, protozoans and corals representing their entire model making career. The models were made in a variety ways with many formed over wire skeletons (known as armatures) with the glass fused together or glued. Profiled in various scientific sales catalogues such as Henry A. Ward’s they were to sold museums, universities and private collectors by the Blaschkas themselves and various agents who worked on their behalf worldwide. In the past these models were of scientific importance in teaching but as trends change their significance as works of art are also being highlighted. Each glass model is a unique blend of art, science and craftsmanship looking more life-like than real specimens whose natural colours may fade when stored in jars of preservation fluid over time. This highly illustrated lecture will give a fascinating insight to this collection housed at one of the major natural history museums in the world.

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