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The main difference between Venetian and Bohemian glass is the style. While the Venetian style involves a lot of intricate painting, the Bohemian style uses more melting techniques and a bolder style of painting. Venetian works are typically more expensive and not as commercially produced as Bohemian glassware.
Bohemians traditionally made glass from ground quartz, which is silica, and iron oxide. This makes a greenish tinted glass that was used for regular daily items. Bohemians began blowing glass for trade in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Venice was a main trade center for glass beginning in the thirteenth century. Most Venetian glass was made on the nearby island of Murano and the Venetian Glassmaker's Guild was founded in 1291.
European glassmaking changed in the Renaissance of the sixteenth century when Venetians invented enamel paint. Although the Venetians tried to keep the technique a secret, the Bohemians adopted it as well. However, Venetian and Bohemian painting styles were very different. For example, families such as the Schurers of Northern Bohemia became famous for melting blue cobalt glass, while Venetian glassmakers are famous for their more delicate and less bold designs.
Bohemia is better known today for crystal manufacturing than Venice. Glass becomes crystal when lead oxide (PbO) is added to the basic glassmaking minerals with impurities such as iron, refined from it. Crystal is of maximum clarity and brilliance whether or not lead is present. But, PbO affects the durability of the crystal and aids in its ease in being cut. Today, the European Union (EU) considers a PbO content of 4% or higher as crystal and anything less than 4% to be glass.
"Overshot glass" is a bubbly, textured material that was first created in sixteenth century Venice and then became popular in Bohemia and other countries. It's formed by taking hot glass gobs and rolling them in finely ground shards, and then reheating the shards just enough to melt down any sharp edges. Today, most Venetian glassware is made by artists and is more expensive than Bohemian glassware which is often mass produced.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the main differences between Venetian and Bohemian glass?
Venetian glass is renowned for its artistic elegance and technical mastery, originating from the island of Murano in Venice, Italy. It is characterized by its lightness, bright colors, and intricate designs, often featuring delicate shapes and the use of clear cristallo. Bohemian glass, on the other hand, hails from the regions of Bohemia and Silesia (now parts of the Czech Republic). It is known for its high-quality, lead crystal, which gives it a weightier feel, exceptional clarity, and the ability to be cut with precise, intricate patterns.
How does the production process differ between Venetian and Bohemian glass?
The production process of Venetian glass involves a unique technique of glassblowing that has been refined over centuries, creating pieces that are light and airy with a focus on artistic shapes and colorful designs. Bohemian glassmakers, conversely, have perfected the art of cutting and engraving on their heavier lead crystal glass, resulting in detailed and often geometric patterns. The addition of lead oxide in Bohemian glass also allows for greater refraction, making it popular for cut crystalware and decorative items.
What historical factors influenced the development of Venetian and Bohemian glass?
The development of Venetian glass was heavily influenced by the Republic of Venice's position as a trade hub in the Mediterranean, which facilitated the exchange of ideas and techniques. The Venetian government also moved all glass production to Murano in the 13th century to protect the city from fires and to safeguard the secrets of their glassmaking. Bohemian glass's evolution was impacted by the region's abundant natural resources, including quartz and potash, and the 17th-century discovery of how to make crystal glass that rivaled the clarity of diamonds.
Can Venetian and Bohemian glass be identified by specific colors or patterns?
Yes, both Venetian and Bohemian glass can often be identified by their distinctive colors and patterns. Venetian glass is celebrated for its vibrant range of colors and for incorporating techniques such as millefiori, which creates a flower-like pattern. Bohemian glass is typically clear or colored by incorporating metal oxides, and it is renowned for its precise cuts and engravings, which often result in complex geometric patterns, stars, and lattice work.
What are the current trends in collecting Venetian and Bohemian glass?
Collecting Venetian and Bohemian glass remains popular among enthusiasts who appreciate the history, craftsmanship, and beauty of these objects. Venetian glass is sought after for its artistic glassware and sculptures, with contemporary collectors often looking for Murano glass chandeliers and vases. Bohemian glass collectors tend to focus on the exquisite cut and engraved crystal pieces, with a particular interest in antique stemware, decanters, and decorative items that showcase the precision and clarity of the glass.