Louis F. Vaupel (American (born in Germany), 1824–1903), New England Glass Co., East Cambridge, Massachusetts (1818–1888)
Object Place: East Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
15.87 x 7.62 x 7.62 cm (6 1/4 x 3 x 3 in.)
Medium or Technique
Blown, cobalt-blue cased glass, cut and engraved
David and Stacey Goel Gallery (Gallery 239)
Cobalt-blue cased glass bowl on baluster stem and circular foot. Panels of horse and wolves, lions attacking buffalo are on bowl.
Louis Vaupel’s work at the New England Glass Company represents the pinnacle of mid-nineteenth-century glass engraving. He came to the company in 1850 from Germany, where he had learned his craft from his father and had already attained the rank of an expert glass engraver. Vaupel specialized in cased (or overlay) glass, made of fused layers of colored and clear glass into which decoration was cut with a grinding wheel. Artisans had produced glass of this type in Europe, particularly in Bohemia, since the eighteenth century, and displays of glass from France and Austria at New York’s Crystal Palace exhibition in 1853 helped popularize the style in America.
Engraving cased glass required great skill and speed. The craftsman would begin by either lightly drawing the design on the surface of the glass or placing a piece of paper showing the design inside the vessel. He then used varying sizes of copper grinding wheels, which were coated with an abrasive agent such as emery or pumice mixed with oil, to engrave the design. As the grinding wheel turned on a lathe, the craftsman delicately pressed the layered glass against the spinning blade, which removed areas of colored glass to reveal the clear glass beneath. Because the abrasive material and glass dust partially obscured the glass, the engraver relied on a sense of touch to judge the amount of pressure needed to create the design. In the complex hunting scenes on this remarkable goblet, Vaupel skillfully created precise renderings of the animals’ musculature and a lively sense of movement and depth.
This text was adapted from Ward, et al., MFA Highlights: American Decorative Arts & Sculpture (Boston, 2006) available at www.mfashop.com/mfa-publications.html.
Bequest of Dr. Minette D. Newman