It has been 30 years since the Museum published a volume dedicated to glass from Asia, so we are thrilled to announce the publication—thanks to the support of the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation—of Shelly Xue and Christopher L. Maxwell’s Asian Glass: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass!
You already may be familiar with the most recent volumes of the Museum’s Selections book series, which have transported readers to both the far and more recent past.
Ancient and Islamic Glass by Katherine A. Larson, Curator of Ancient Glass
Modern Austrian Glass by Alexandra M. Ruggiero, Curator of Modern Glass
This latest volume in the series will also take you back in time as well as around the globe, with stories of more than 50 fascinating objects from the Museum’s Asian glass collection, illustrated with striking full-color photographs. Each entry contains detailed object information and contextualizing commentary about production, design, culture, and trade. The research is cutting edge, and many of the pieces are published here for the first time.
Most of the objects originate in China, but there are also pieces from India and Japan. You will discover an ancient ritual (or bi) disk and cameo-carved snuff bottles (51.6.548, 82.6.50); purist monochrome vessels in blue, green, and imperial yellow, as well as figures in landscapes in reverse-painted pictures (51.6.6, 2014.6.18); plus a vibrant green uranium-glass buckle and an elaborate vase demonstrating the inside-painting technique (51.6.408, 88.6.23).
The photographs dazzle—quite literally, with sparkling specs of copper (82.6.104).
Asian Glass opens with an essay, “Defining the ‘Asian Glass Collection’ at The Corning Museum of Glass.” Dr. Maxwell delves into the challenge of identifying “Asia” as a consistent geographical and cultural entity. He broadly traces relationships between the East and the West that influenced the intercontinental exchange of glass knowledge and products, and he discusses how the Museum’s collection came into being, touching on questionable dealings that built many Western collections of Asian glass.
The 50 entries are the result of intercontinental efforts. Dr. Shelly Xue, professor and director of the Workshop and Studio Center of the Institute of Visual Arts in Shanghai, China, composed most of them with the collaboration of Dr. Maxwell. She traveled to Corning in 2019 as the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation Fellow for Asian Glass. Asian Glass: Selections was one planned product of that fellowship. Dr. Xue spent a year at the Museum exploring and rediscovering its Asian glass collection, and she updated existing information about the objects—including redating the Museum’s showpiece Snowflake Warrior Vase based on how its carvings reflect the stories of 19th-century Beijing opera (57.6.10). She identified some exceptional works whose cultural—and monetary—value had not been realized, like the pair of Qing dynasty “court-style” vases on the book’s cover (53.6.1, anonymous gift).
Dr. Xue’s study continued once she had returned to China. Her work in national archives (with additional funding from the J. S. Lee Foundation) and with glass scholars and glassworkers in China is evident in the wealth of detail about the Imperial Glass Workshops and about the close ties between glassmaking and other traditional Chinese crafts like jade carving, as on the padded and cameo-carved multicolored bottle (56.6.1), and ink painting, as on the pair of vases.
In addition to engaging readers with informative entries and stunning photographs, the book should pique the interest of anyone curious about glass science. CMoG’s Conservation Department worked with glass scientists from Corning Incorporated, to conduct scientific analyses of the chemical composition of all the objects. Their results are interspersed throughout the entries as they can help identify where and when something was made, but the details are also presented in an extensive table—a significant resource for researchers of Asian glasses. And for the layperson, there is a clear introduction by Astrid van Giffen, associate conservator at the Museum, explaining the science.
The book ends with a Select Bibliography, which will help you continue exploring Asian glass once you have embarked on your adventure with Asian Glass: Selections from The Corning Museum of Glass.
To purchase a copy of the volume or any other Museum publications, please visit The Shops at The Corning Museum of Glass.
Additional image captions:
- CMoG 51.6.548: Bi 璧 (ritual) disk). China, middle of the Warring States period (475–221 BCE) to early Western Han dynasty (206 BCE–8 CE), about 350–150 BCE. Cast and carved glass. Diam. 16.4 cm.
- CMoG 82.6.50: Snuff bottle. Imperial Workshops, Beijing, China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), Qianlong period (1736-1795). Blown, cased and cameo-carved glass. H. 5.9 cm. Bequest of Marian Swayze Mayer.
- CMoG 51.6.6: Blue bottle. Imperial Workshops, Beijing, China, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), Qianlong period (1736-1795). Mold-blown and cold-worked glass. H. 27 cm.
- CMoG 2014.6.18: Reverse-painted portrait on mirror glass depicting a Mughal nobleman. Probably England (glass); possibly Kolkata (Calcutta) or Murshidabad, West Bengal, India (painting), 1760–1780. Cylinder-blown and painted mirrored glass. H. 96.5 cm, W. 66 cm.
- CMoG 51.6.408: Buckle. China, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), about 1850–1949. Cast and cameo-carved glass. H. 3.4 cm, L. 10.8 cm.
- CMoG 88.6.23: Vase. Boshan, Shandong province, China, People’s Republic of China (from 1949), about 1960–1980. Mold-blown, cased and cameo-carved glass, inside-painted. H. 22 cm. Gift from Estate of Zachary Taylor.