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Historical Glass


Glassware and ornaments were made in Egypt and Mesopotamia about 3000-2500 BC and consequently mankind produce glass more than five thousand years. Glass was transported from Egypt to the territory of Rome as well as Greece and Byzantium. After to the northern coast of the Black Sea about III-IV cc, and then on the Kievan Rus. First glass shops were build on the territory of Ukraine during the Kievan Rus period. Ukraine has about 90 settlements called Huta or similar names derived from the word "Huta". Many relevant titles still exist: Hutysche, Hutysko - ancient place of glass production. Ukrainian glassworks produced "sklyanytsi" (so called once all the glass products), not only for Ukrainian market, but also exported to Poland, Lithuania, Germany and other countries. Glass vessels and beads made in I-II BC in the Roman colonies in the South of modern Ukraine (here was the first glass production on the territory of Ukraine). The glass melting process was fairly primitive that time and it was quite difficult to achieve transparency. In this purpose it was necessary to blow glass as thin as possible. Ancient glassblowers were exceptionally well skilled and those vessels are the perfect demonstration of it. Their weight is less than 100 grams. It is hard to find nowadays the glassblower capable to perform such high-quality thin-walled glass and filigree.

Glass beads, around I c. AD

Roman bottle, around I c. AD

Glass vessels, around XII-XII c.

Glass goblet, XVI c.

Kyiv was the main center of glass manufacturing in Kievan Rus at the beginning of XII c. Glass production shifts from the needs of the church and princely courts to the needs of common people. Ancient glassmakers learned almost all tricks and achievements of civilization in this area. Products of Kyiv glass shops were sold over large areas from Rhine to the Ural Mountains. Kyiv will continue to remain a major center of glass production during the following centuries, but also glass production was established in Zvenigorod, Galicia, Chernihiv and other cities. Glass beads and vessels from the XI-XII centuries are displayed on the exposition as well as bracelet fragments found during excavations in Zvenigorod and Galich. Glass beads, known since ancient times, were widely distributed on Kyivan Rus beginning with X century. Colors, forms and ways of decoration increased considerably since that time. It was made in the way of twisting the hot glass on the metal wire.

Glass vessels, XVIII-XIX c.

Cup, beg. of XVII c.

Glass cups, XVIII c.

Vivat goblet, XVII c.

The glass production in Ukraine until the middle of nineteenth century concentrated mainly in a small workshops, owned by individual families of glassblowers. Bigger glass shops t were the property of the landowners, Cossacks and monasteries. The excavations of a forest glass shop near Univ Monastery (Lviv region) changed the outlook on Ukrainian glassblowing of this period. In this workshop the glassware and glass window was produced - a standard range of each small glassworks of that time. The difference here is only in the breadth of the range of techniques which were used there. The several colors of glass were melted there: cobalt, blue, white, green, brown and purple. Specifically the white glass was melted to imitate porcelain, which was brought to Europe from distant China and was very expensive at that time. White glass was sometimes decorated with the sustainable painting enamels. Here you see the jar made of white glass with grape motive enameled. Probably it was used to wash the hands of a priest before communion.

The demand for glass products increased in the late 18-th - early 19-th century. Glass was used in optics, pharmacy, bottles as a packing container appeared in a daily life, etc. Simultaneously the window glass production growth to a separate industrial branch. The furnaces with high chimneys appeared, the British started to make lead crystal - a soft, suitable for grinding and polishing glass type. Glass blowing industry in Galicia began to compete with such highly developed factories in Austria-Hungary as Bohemia, Silesia, which had a very strong traditions of grinding, engraving and painting on glass, mirror manufacturing, parts of chandeliers and candelabra, glass jewelry. During the Napoleonic wars these regions entered a period of protracted crisis that has caused the migration of glass masters into other regions of Europe, including Galicia. In 1780, at a distance of 3 km from the newly constructed road to Transcarpathia, in the deep forest near Skole the Princess Isabella Lubomirska established a factory of high quality grinded glass. In the mid-nineteenth century the era of "forest glass shops" ended throughout Europe. New enterprises established in the industrial centers and required more labor, railway connection, services for the delivery of materials and shipment of products. On the territory of modern Ukraine this process begins in the 70s of the XIX c. But the "remnant" forest glassworks still existed at the expanse of Volyn’ and Galicia until the First World War, producing a limited assortment of simple glass.

Glass cups, XVII c.

Caraffe, mid. of XIX c.

Cup, Korostiv glasshouse, beg. of XIX c.

Cup, Korostiv glasshouse, beg. of XIX c.

A new stage in the development of Soviet art glass and applied arts in general begins from the end of 50th. At the main glass factories in the republic were engaged designers and it facilitated to expand the production line radically, to improve the artistic and technical quality of the entire production of glass i a relatively short period. It also gave the opportunity to open the way to all-union and international exhibitions and fairs which provided a true development of Ukrainian art glass in 1960-1970-th. The tradition of "old glassworks" evolved in two directions closely connected to each other: "folk-plastic" and "arts and baroque."There were several dozen of glass art factories during 80s in the USSR. The most famous among them were Kyiv factory of glass art, Lviv production association "Rainbow", Lviv Ceramic and sculpture factory, the plant Romaniv, Berezhany, Donetsk, Constantine, etc. .. The show featured production of "Rainbow" Association, Stryi Glass Factory Lviv Experimental Ceramics and Sculpture Factory as well as Lviv Glass Factory number 1.