- Museum number
Glass dish, lead crystal cut and engraved with a flowering thistle head and leaves, using a mixture of deep cutting and shallow engraving to create different depths and patterns for the bold thorny stems and the delicate thistle-down. Artist’s signature on the rim
- Production date
- 1960 (circa)
Diameter: 43 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Švarc studied at the specialised school of glassmaking (Fachschule für Glass) in Kamenicky Šenov from 1949-52. While there he was employed as a glass artist at the glassworks at Novy Bor till 1951. From 1953 he worked at the Bohemia Glassworks in Svetla nad Sazavou. He is described in the Czech Glass Review’s publication, 'Czechoslovac Art Glass' (1980) as ‘an excellent and sensitive engraver and cutter with a sense of detail. Has designed and realised numerous exacting works of a unique nature’.
Švarc was among many glass artists who enrolled at the Academy of Applied Arts in Prague after completing his studies at the glass school (H. Ricke, ed., 'Czech Glass 1945-1980. Design in an Age of Adversity', Stuttgart 2005, p. 41). He was a contemporary of Josef Pravec (see 1998,0406.2). Some of Švarc's glass designs were cut by other specialist cutters at the factory, and it is not always possible to tell which peices were cut by Švarc himself (information kindly supplied by A. Langhammer, July 2013).
A deep bowl by Švarc with elaborate thistle motif very close to that on this plate is illustrated in a special issue of the Czech magazine 'Glass Review', on 'The Art Glass of Czechoslovak Glassworks', fig. 32, dated 1962. Several other vases and plates designed by Švarc with thistle motifs are illustrated in an article in the same issue on 'The Sklárny Bohemia Glassworks, Podebrady' , figs. 6-8. Švarc's work is described in detail among that of other outstanding glass designers: 'Josef Švarc represents another individualistic artistic view on modern Czech cut crystal. In 1954 the artist began to work at the Josefodol workshop of the Sklárny Bohemia glassworks and later he became head of the art department. Cutter, engraver and desginer he soon begam to exploit all his specialized knowledge and talent for drawing in his own designs with vegetable motifs. His first designs are outstanding for the considerable degree of stylization of the given motif and its regular composition. Later, as his artistic virtuosity grew, his compositions became freer and more refined. The technique of their realization is also refined. Josef Švarc combines cut with stone engraving, this giving rise to a wide range of different structures of the glass surface and a new optical effect. His technique is never automatic, however, being on the contrary subordinated to the beauty of the brilliantly executed thistles, roses, ears and corn and other vegetable motifs, which the artist brings into play in ever new variants and unusual compositions.' The article goes on to say that Švarc's renown for his thistles led to the ropoduction of a range of cased glass at Josefodol (part of the Svetlá nad Sázavou works) in which the cut and engraved designs were executed in the outer coloured layer so that they appeared in transparent crystal surrounded by colour (fig. 17).
For a cylindrical vase with related thistle design, see 'Glass Review. Czechoslovak Glass and Ceramics Magazine, Special Issue: Art in Glass' 1969. A similar design was also used on a rectangular vase, see www.markhillpublishing.co./articles-2/czech-glass-basics/ (accessed 13 June 2013). See also Auction House Zezula, Brno, 12 November 2011, lot 568, for a 22cm dish with motif and four thistles and similar spiky leaves, similarly signed 'Švarc'; and www.liveauctioneers.com/catalog/13077/ for auction of European Glass and Studio Glass, 30 June 2007, lot 839, for purple cased dish, 28cm, with another thistle motif. See also R. Stennett-Wilson, 'Modern Glass', London 1875, p. 66, top, for a plate in which Švarc has combined thistle motifs with background cutting of facets.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- Britain, Europe and Prehistory
- Registration number