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)
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.
Here’s the University’s link … Glass Flowers: The WareCollection of Blaschka Glass Models of Plants
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.
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