Thursday, 31 August 2017

Bran Tub # 14 : Blaschka Glass Flowers, Harvard …



I wrote about the Blaschka father and son and their amazing ‘flower sculptures’ four years ago – but have just found the postcards I brought back from Harvard after a visit in 1976 …




The four cards I found with their descriptions I set out below ...



 



ECHINOCEREUS ENGELMANII (Parry Rumpler) 
(Model 529)
An abundant cactus in the American southwest and adjacent parts of northern Mexico.  In fashioning this model, in 1895, the artists Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka used extreme accuracy in such details as the numerous stamens.




FRAGARIA VESCA L. var.   SEMPERFLORENS Duch. 
X F. VIRGINIANA HYBRIDA  (Model 796)
This cultivated hybrid, known as Monthly Strawberry, was modelled by R Blaschka in 1929 and shows some of his finest techniques in reproducing plant texture in glass.




ASPERGILLUS HERBARIORUM  (Wigg.) Fischer   (Model 785)
Mould, magnified in the model 250 times, on the surface of the pear fruit.  This model made by R Blaschka in 1929 forms part of a series showing fungal diseases of fruits.





CALTHA PALUSTRIS Linn.  (Model 475)

Marsh Marigold or Cowslip, a species which grows in swamps and meadows from Newfoundland to South Carolina and west to Minnesota and Iowa.  Modelled in glass in 1900 by Leopold and Rudolph Blaschka.





I notice that Harvard have re-housed, cleaned and restored the acclaimed Ware Collection … a unique collection of over 4,000 models, representing more than 830 plant species.


The Harvard site has four beautiful photos of the extensive works and a short 6 minute video on how the flowers were restored for the 21st century.


c/o Harvard's site
Professor Pfister waxed lyrical about these
glass Red Maple leaves


As you’d expect from Harvard … a professional take on the restoration of the flowers … introduced by Donald H Pfister, Professor Of Systematic Botany, who was there as a graduate student in 1968 and is still there today.





We meet Wes Fleming the glass sculptor, who is restoring any damaged exhibits … and he notes that no-one has come near the Blaschkas in creating specimens like those in the Ware Collection … amusingly he says his tools are similar to those used by the Blaschkas … much like those we use at a BBQ!!


We see the restoration of the cabinets in which the botanical specimens were displayed – during deconstruction they found signatures of the case-makers from 1893, which have become part of the exhibition.


Book available in the shop
The displays now follow classification and show how the flower is built in nature – the art, as well as the way of understanding the organism.


Each section of the life-size model is remarkably accurate … this was so the species could be studied year-round.


Well this exhibition has stayed with me for over 40 years … I would now love to see it again … with all its exceptional works of art newly cleaned and displayed.


Please enjoy and if you can get to Harvard to see this extraordinary collection of famous treasures, which is internationally acclaimed – I highly recommend you make a plan.



The video of Harvard restoring its famed glass flowers.

Then here’s my earlier post from almost exactly 4 years ago, which contains some more historical background on the Blaschkas and their glass botanical models.

Hilary Melton-Butcher
Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

41 comments:

Elephant's Child said...

How I would love to see it. I am not at all surprised it has lingered in your head and your heart.

Suzanne Furness said...

Wow, they are amazing, I actually went back to check I had read correctly that the sculptures were from glass. I can see why it has stayed with you all these years. Would be wonderful to see indeed.

Marja said...

wow when I looked at your photos I was totally confused as I thought your photos are real flowers not glass. it was not only till I saw the video that I understood they are real glas flowers. What an artist Isn't it amazing

Deniz Bevan said...

Ooh, this is fascinating. I love looking at illustrations of flowers. I wish I could remember the names of more than a handful!

Jz said...

You may have just planned my next day trip for me.
Thank you, Hilary. :-)

Mike@Bit About Britain said...

Astonishing, Hilary. You certainly show some interesting stuff; in fact, positive and inspirational!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

The fungal disease on the pears is both fascinating and gross.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ EC - you would love it ... I can see that with your eye for plants, art and sculpture - it lingers on ... a visit if I can get there sometime.

@ Suzanne - I know ... I wondered if everyone would believe they are glass flowers and not actual plants - it's extraordinary craftmanship. I'd love to see the revamped exhibition.

@ Marja - they are quite extraordinary aren't they ... just stunning and so realistic, as you noticed. They were a father and son set up ... sadly there was no inheritor or artist to bring the craft into the later 20th century.

@ Deniz - I do hope at some stage you'll get down to Boston and be able to see these. For some reason, even though I don't have a garden, I have a pretty good idea of plants ...

@ Jz - that's a pleasure ... I do hope you'll report back once you've visited - that 'new' exhibition looks amazing - and I'd love to have it confirmed. So I'm looking forward to hearing from you!!!

@ Mike - my take on life is somewhat different ... but then there are specialists like you - giving us wonderful guided blog posts about British places and treasures in the UK - yes I do Britain too ... but these glass flowers are incredible.

@ Diane - I'm sure that fungal postcard totally bemused me 40 odd years ago ... and what I find extraordinary is that they could see it and then magnify it to actually make a glass model of the fungus x 250 times.

Thanks so much - I'm just glad I've added to that first post I wrote four years ago ... your comments have vindicated my decision ... cheers Hilary

Annalisa Crawford said...

I'm very taken with the mould - it's, erm, beautiful :-)

Liz A. said...

I had never heard of this. If I ever get to the east coast, I'll have to make a point to get to Harvard to see this.

Gina Gao said...

This is so fascinating! Thanks for sharing.


www.ficklemillennial.com

Rhodesia said...

I am glad that you found the postcards so can see more of this fascinating subject. Plant texture in glass is amazing and so real. Hope that all is well. Cheers Diane

Out on the prairie said...

These are some amazing flowers, I had fun looking them over.

Janie Junebug said...

The glass sculptures are extraordinary. I can't imagine being able to perform such intricate work.

Love,
Janie

Andrea Ostapovitch said...

That would be an amazing exhibit. Even with such a small glimpse, I have to say, there needs to be word that stands apart from artisan. Very hard to believe that those are glass. Stunning.
Have a great day,
Andrea

Anabel Marsh said...

How beautiful, I even like the mould!

Jo said...

I remember your original post. These glass flowers are absolutely phenomenal. Wish I could get to Harvard. Have to make do with pictures. Thanks for sharing Hilary. You always come up with stuff I have never heard of.

Botanist said...

That is amazing. It's hard to believe those beautiful creations are glass!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Annalisa – I agree – I’m sure I was taken with the mould … just staggering detail …

@ Liz –that’s great to know it’s on your bucket list of places to visit over on the north east coast …

@ Gina – good to see you and the exhibition is quite amazing …

@ Diane – finding the postcards reminded me how incredible these botanical specimens are – even if made of glass … they do look real.

@ Steve – it’s extraordinary workmanship …

@ Janie – I know the mastery of their subject really shows through …

@ Andrea – you’re right … it is difficult to just describe their work as ‘artisan’ … and to think they were ‘just doing their job’ creating these amazing specimen exhibits for study – which, even though glass, have survived a hundred years or more …

@ Anabel – thanks … I too obviously got bewitched by the mould …

@ Jo – I just had to do another post having found these postcards … and I’d love to get to Harvard to see the new exhibition space. Thanks – I do like to be different …

@ Ian – it is extraordinary workmanship … but glass they are …

Thanks so much – delighted the glass flowers meet with your expectations … just exquisite workmanship – cheers Hilary

RO said...

Not only is this quite fascinating, but I've learned so much! Hugs...and Happy Friday!

Kali Delamagente said...

I love wildflowers, the type I might see in swamps or deserts or growing naturally without the human tenders.

Emily Bloomquist said...

Wow, that mould looks so beautiful and foreign. I suppose it is because I normally do not see it magnified 250 times. I will look at my mouldy fruit slightly differently now prior to tossing it into the compost.

I can see why this exhibition stayed with you for over 40 years Hilary. It looks exceptional. Thank you for sharing it.

Joanne said...

The Harvard museum is perfect for a plant lover like yourself. I've only strolled the grounds of Harvard. I've never visited the museum. I shall have to get back to the Northeast again and check it out for you.
Nifty post. There's so much to see in this world. Too little time

bookworm said...

This is amazing. I have only been in the Boston area once - it is superexpensive to stay in and outside of my budget. Perhaps I need to work harder to find accommodations we can afford. The Unknown Journey Ahead agingonthespectrum.blogspot.com

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ RO - delighted you enjoyed reading about the glass flowers ...

@ Kali - yes, I love wildflowers or just seeing plants out and about - preferably with just nature around me ...

@ Emily - exactly ... it's surprising to see it magnified (in glass) 250 times - and certainly these models made one think. The exhibition must be amazing to see now it's been cleaned up - perhaps one day I'll get back ... and I hope when you return to the USA you'll be able to visit ...

@ Joanne - yes I do love plants ... but I don't remember Harvard's grounds - I guess I was somewhat daunted when I visited. I do hope you can get back up to the North East and visit the exhibition ...

Sadly as you say - so much to see ...so little time ...

@ Bookworm - I suspect it was fairly expensive back then - perhaps it was free at that stage: can't remember! This exhibition is just so extraordinary - it's well worth a visit - so I hope you can get across to visit when you have a break ...

Cheers to you all - have good weekends ... it's a wonderful sunny summer's day here as we ease into Autumn ... Hilary

DMS said...

I cannot even imagine the technique and talent that goes into making those models out of glass. Wow! I am so glad you shared these with us. How special. Thanks for sharing. :)
~Jess

Victoria Marie Lees said...

Wow! Hilary, I didn't realize those maple leaves were glass. All of the photos you have here are extraordinary. I have a plant like that strawberry plant growing in my back yard, although the strawberries never get big enough or ripe enough to harvest.

I'm always impressed when I visit your blog. I learn so much. All the best to you, my dear!

troutbirder said...

Fascinating post! I do have some cowslips group in a wet spot in our woods. They are always among the early flowers to bloom in the spring here in Minnesota...:)

Fil said...

They are wonderful Hilary and the process of restoring them is fascinating in itself.

Sandra Cox said...

OMGosh, Hilary, thank you so much for sharing this. It's just phenomenal. It took me several looks to realize these were truly glass sculptures. Talk about talent. I'm in awe.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Jess - the talent, as you mention, beggars belief that these models can be created, let alone could be over 100 years ago. I hope you can get to see the exhibition sometime ...

@ Victoria - I know: the workmanship is just fantastic isn't it ... who'd have believed any of them were glass - if one hadn't been told. There are many varieties of strawberry ... but this is one I hadn't come across - now I look I have! It's a type of woodland strawberry ... not often seen, as we cultivate strawberries now. I think yours are the woodland or Alpine sort of strawberry plant. Just delighted to know you enjoy your visits ...

@ Troutbirder - we tend to know the marsh-marigold, reserving the cowslip name for the more common variety - they are a delight to see in Spring - bringing golden sunlight onto the marshy woodland floors. You must enjoy your early risers when Spring starts coming around in MN ...

@ Fil - thanks ... the restoration is so worth seeing and knowing about ...

@ Sandra - I know ... I was so pleased I found the postcards and could do another post about the Blaschkas and their incredible glass flowers from over 100 years ago ... incredible talent. You're not the only one in awe - if Harvard or the Natural History Museum here are not able to replicate the Blaschkas method of working - it shows how extraordinary these glass specimens are ... and how talented the father and son ...

Thanks so much for visiting - just delighted that I've been able to bring to light the Blaschkas' range of specimens and models for you to see - cheers Hilary

sonia a. mascaro said...

Just stunning and amazing the glass sculptures!
Thanks for the link to the University and the video of Harvard too!
I will see your earlier post soon.

Wishing you and yours a happy week!
Lots of Hugs!

Vallypee said...

Incredible beauty. What care and dexterity it must take to make such glass sculptures! I cannot imagine ever getting to Harvard though!

Keith's Ramblings said...

Simply amazing, I had no idea such models existed. The cowslip is very different from the ones that grow on the Downs! My late father was a miniaturist and his collection of tiny Louis XVI furniture is in a museum in Florida.

Click to visit Keith's Ramblings

Bish Denham said...

Wow. I didn't even know these glass flowers existed. So beautiful!

sage said...

Those are neat post cards (i have a habit of collecting old post cards of trains and ships)

mail4rosey said...

Those are really great. I can see why you're revisiting. I love that they've cleaned and re-stored. That means these will be around for many more people to visit and love.

cleemckenzie said...

I'm always so impressed by a cactus flower. You just don't expect something that beautiful to pop out from all those thorns. The others are really beautiful as well, and those glass sculptures are amazing.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

@ Sonia – so glad you enjoyed the glass flowers and that you were able to check Harvard’s link out to the conservation project: renewing the exhibition. Thank you too for going back and commenting on my earlier post …

@ Val – I can’t imagine what it would take to design, let alone make those flowers … quite extraordinary. Pity that you won’t see these in person - but understand … Harvard is rather a long way ….

@ Keith – I wouldn’t have known about these glass models if my relatives hadn’t recommended I make a visit back in the day. The cowslip here is the marsh one – and it is very different from what we know as cowslip – that we both see on the Downs …

Now I want to get to Florida to see the miniatures you mention …

@ Bish – I hope perhaps you can get up to Harvard at some stage and see them in person …

@ Sage – I am an awful hoarder of postcards … way too many – mostly of places where I visit, or things that stand out and catch my eye … I probably should do what you do – cut back somehow!

@ Rosey – exactly … it’s wonderful these have been restored and cleaned and then can be available for the next generations to view … to show what can be done in the last 1800s- early 1900s …

@ Lee – I agree when you see a flower such as this – to realise it’s really the rose between the thorns … is quite extraordinary … and that colour – is so delightful. I’m sure I selected postcards for the variety of sculpture on offer – they so amazed me …

Cheers to you all – thanks for visiting and commenting … Hilary

Juliet Batten said...

What extraordinary skill! It's hard to believe these are crafted from glass.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Juliet - it is amazing isn't it - I'm so glad I saw this exhibition all those years ago ... I can't forget the workmanship. I'm so glad the Harvard exhibit has been updated ... thanks for visiting - cheers Hilary