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European Virtual Training Centre
for glass arts and techniques

Czech republic High enamel


Written and translated by Tereza Jeřábková

There have been at lest two reasons to paint glass. First has been to make the product more attractive and the second has been the attempt to cover possible defects in glass.

Glass has been decorated with painting since the ancient Egypt, but not until the period of Roman Empire fired glass emails have been used.

The tradition of painted glass in the Czech countries began in the Renaissance.
The painting with glass emails based on Venetian style came to Bohemia probably from the South of Germany. However, the use of the wide spectrum of national motifs sat the peculiarity of Czech renaissance painted glass.

In the baroque period glass painting changed nearly to folk art, especially welcoming goblets and square bottles for liquor were very popular. In this time glass painting could not compete with much more advanced engraved glass.

The great break in quality and quantity of painted glass came as late as the period of rococo, when the production of imitations of more expensive porcelain was dominant. Typical rococo motifs are painted mainly on the white opaque opal glass.

The nineteenth century brought the vogue of historism style, renaissance glass was imitated and also the Arabian and Persian inspiration influenced the production significantly.

At the end of nineteenth century historism receded and the progressive style of Art Noveau, which was the period of creative and technological experiments, replaced it. At that time the high enamel was used for the first time, but only as the subsidiary technique, implementing brilliant floral motifs of incredible skill and elegance.

Soon after the Second World War the era of unprecedented boom of painted glass began especially in Nový Bor area. The reason was huge run on the painted glass in associated socialistic countries and also in friendly Arabian countries.
Beside the copper ruby glazed glass the high enamel painting got strong position. Blue, green, ruby or opal glass has been decorated by abundant décor on golden under layer, consisting of flowers painted with high enamel and garlands made with relief enamel.
This technique and also the décor have been produced up to the present day. The main market of Nový Bor painters are still Russia and Arabian countries. However, the traditional décor does not correspond to contemporary taste of home product, which may cause complete extinction of this very interesting technique.