A 1950s Alexandrite J. Hrobár for Chribskà Sculpture

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Factory: Chribskà
Designer: J. Hrobár
Date of design: Late 1950s
Produced: Late 1950s-60s

This monumental curving sculpture typifies the organic and assymetric forms of much glass designed or produced in the 1950s. In Czechoslovakia, Chribskà, Skrdlovice and Mstisov were the leading factories working in this style, with designs produced by those such as Josef Hospodka, Marie Stahlikova, Frantisek Zemek and Hana Machovska. Many may have been inspired by Scandinavian factories and designers, such as Per Lütken for Holmegaard, who were inspired by bud, flower and leaf forms found in the natural landscape around them. Produced at the furnace while the glass was hot, each piece is unique in terms of the form, size and pattern although glassmakers had to adhere to strict production guidelines.

The majority of designs produced at this time were functional bowls and vases and, although this form contains two pockets which could hold flowers, it was undoubtedly intended to be purely decorative – a sculptural art piece. The pockets not only serve to reinforce the curving, organic nature of the form, but they also reflect and refract the other design elements to create an intriguing optical effect. Despite appearing simple, the design is deceptively complex to produce, and it is likely that the pockets were created by ‘injecting’ and manipulating the glass with pressurised air or steam. The smoothly rounded assymetric form would have been created by swinging the molten glass. The most interesting feature, and one that marks this design out from any other, is the almost paper-thin glass membrane in the arches between the two wells. Extremely delicate and hard to retain and almost invisible at first sight, the glassmaker has drawn attention to it by touching it twice with a pointed tool, leaving two tiny pin-prick indentations. One is visible on the third detail image.

This sculpture is extremely rare, only a few other examples have been found to date. These have been in colourless, green and smokey grey glass, but none have yet been found in the neodymium glass of this example. Also known as Alexandrite glass and containing the mineral neodymium, the colour of the glass changes from pink to lilac to a bright, icy blue depending on the type of light. The images shown here show a range of these colours due to the different type of lights present when the piece was being photographed. In all, a superb, sculptural form in the style of the period in a rare, highly appealing colour.

12.25in (31cm) high.

Two similar examples, with the above attributions to this designer and factory, were sold in the auction of the contents of Chateau Liberec held by Hessink’s Veilingen B.V. in March 2007. Nothing is currently known about the designer J. Hrobár, and this appears to be his only known design.