American Brilliant Cut Glass

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For lovers of art and all things brilliant, the Forsyth Galleries at Texas A&M University presents an exhibition which features hand-cut glass made in the United States between the late 1870s and the First World War. “That’s Brilliant! American Brilliant Cut Glass” is available for viewing at the gallery until September 5, 2018.

With all its delicate intricacy, cutting glass requires a high skill level. This decorative technique is created by hand carving the glass using a rotating wheel. The artists use varying sizes and materials for their wheels, leading each piece to be unique.  

American cut glass did not truly gain its own personality until about the 1830s. As the craft made its way to America from Europe, the industry started slowly. But by 1876, the era of American Brilliant Cut Glass had begun, lasting until World War I. During this period, because of its intricacy and difficulty, cut glass was only available to the affluent, and thus became a symbol of sophistication and luxury. As war loomed on the horizon, the lead oxide needed for cut glass was delegated elsewhere, successfully ending the “Brilliant Period” of American cut glass.

The pieces in this exhibit shimmer with intricate details from the age when America dominated the art form, highlighting work from leading American brilliant glass makers, including C. Dorflinger & Sons, Pairpoint Glass Company, J. Hoare & Company. Also featured are pieces from T.G. Hawkes & Company, whose advances in craftsmanship forever changed the reputation of American cut glass by winning the 1889 Paris Exposition Grand Prize.

The American Brilliant Cut Glass exhibit is free for the public to enjoy on the second floor of the Memorial Student Center at Texas A&M University until September 5. The gallery is closed on Mondays and on University holidays, but open Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday-Sunday Noon-6 p.m.

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