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“Clutha” Solifleur Vase

Design attributed to Dr. Christopher Dresser (1834-1904)
Manufactured by James Couper & Sons c. 1882-1895

With its streaks of aventurine quartz, flecks of gold murhrine and intentional air bubble inclusions, this pale green blown glass vase is attributed to Christopher Dresser and is typical of the art glass he designed in the 1880’s and 1890’s. Artglass is perhaps the rarest medium in which Dresser worked. Although inspired by ancient Roman examples, he was “one of the first to acknowledge the contemporary progress in glassmaking under Venetian influence.” ¹ Fascinated by the artful, accidental and idiosyncratic effects of its making, Dr. Dresser’s major contribution to the production of art glass stemmed from his understanding of the technical aspects of glass blowing. “He was one of the first designers to adopt the technique of infusing colored particles into the glass while it was exposed to heat, causing streaks of different tints….” ² His works frequently display irregular patterns in lighter and darker shades of his favorite “greenery yallery,” and occasionally the multicolor effect of “solifleur” as found on the present example. “The seminal importance, [however, of Dresser’s glasswork] was that it reproduced Roman and Venetian aventurine and murrhine effects by permeating the colored glass with irregular metallic streaks or foils.” ³

The only maker of Dresser’s art glass was James Couper & Sons of Glasgow which produced vessels for retail sale at Liberty’s. Called “Clutha” – the Latin name for the River Clyde that runs through Glasgow – the name and trademark were registered by Couper in 1888, although it appears that unmarked examples may have been made prior to that date, perhaps as early as 1882.

1 Widar, Helen. Christopher Dresser. Oxford: Phaidon, 1990, p. 189.
2 Ibid, p. 191.
3 Ibid, p. 192.