Plzeňské sympozia

Jan Mergl

Against the Light: Dekorative Sheet Glass in Plzeň 1890–1910

pp. 230–239 (Czech), Summary pp. 239–240 (English)

Th?e changes that occurred in the external architectural appearance and internal layout of municipal houses in the last quarter of the 19th century were also projected into the ways in which they were lit. Windows and entrance doors of vestibules and halls, glass panels in doors in town-dwellers' apartments, and large glass plates in shop windows and partitions in offices substantially aided the penetration of light into interiors. In addition to practical purposes, a further use of the optical qualities of glass surfaces presented itself, namely a decorative role, based on the effects produced by transparent decoration standing out against the light. Striking effects were achieved by using sheet glass with etched decors. A broader development of its use, with companies being
established specialising in its production, took place around 1890. Manufacturers offered a choice of numerous ornamental, genre, and figurative motifs, in styles influenced by contemporary taste. Two such firms operated in Plzeň in the 1890s: the First Plzeň Works for Decorative Etching of Sheet Glass, founded by František Rehwald, and the Kopecký & Svátek Sheet Glass Refinery. Both of them attached great importance to the artistic craftsmanship of their etched glass and worked closely with trained artists. ?e only source providing a more detailed knowledge of this cooperation is to be found in contemporary printed material, drawings of designs, and samples of work, kept in the collections of the Museum of West Bohemia in Plzeň. Among the artists whose designs can be found here are for example the painters Bedřich Wachsmann the younger, Láďa Novák, and Emanuel Novák, and the architect Antonín Beneš.

Key words: etched sheet glass - 1890-1910 - Plzeň - Rehwald - Kopecký & Svátek


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