A „porcelain palace“ to rival any in Europe
Rastatt Favorite Palace
Glassware on the mantelpiece in the small dining room in the margravine's apartment, Bohemia, early 18th century. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Martine Beck Coppola

Fragile, splendid and extravagantGlassware for the princess

Whether as glassware for the table, window glass or mirrors, this material was in high demand during the Baroque period, an expensive way to decorate royal palaces! The margravine's glass collection is one of Favorite Palace's greatest treasures.

Detail of the hall of mirrors, Rastatt Favorite Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Martine Beck-Coppola

All made of glass: glassware, window, mirror and chandelier make a luxurious impression in the hall of mirrors.

A passion for collecting

Part of Margravine Sibylla Augusta's inheritance included a glass collection from her native Bohemia. It included ruby glassware, three crates of decanters, lidded glassware, and crystal goblets. She supplemented this collection by buying filigreed fluted glasses, elegant platters and lavish bottle and glass coolers, along with impressive ornate glassware. She showcased these to her guests as examples of Bohemia's glass art. For this reason, the glassware exhibits exquisite embellishments and unusual production methods.

Ornate glassware on the pietra dura table in the Florentine cabinet, Bohemia early 18th century. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Martine Beck Coppola

Ornate glassware served decorative purposes.

Masterful manufacturing in Bohemia

In the mid-15th century, Venetian glass makers were able to produce a crystal clear glass for the first time. During the Baroque period, glassware came primarily from Bohemia and Silesia. Glass makers in these regions experimented with formulas to create thick glass, allowing it to be cut and polished, creating the glassware that was so popular in the Baroque. In the first half of the 18th century, when most of the margravine's glassware was created, Bohemian glass art reached its greatest heights. 

Goblet with gold ornamental painting, early 18th century. Image: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Lutz Hecker

Representational goblet with gold ornamental painting.

Glassware for the royal table

Into the late Baroque, artistic glass objects were a status symbol; only nobility could afford the fragile pieces. Glass tableware played an important role in table decor at royal celebrations. Prior to 1800, it was unusual to have bottles and glasses on the table. They were kept at the ready on buffets, in coolers of ice water. Footmen would fill the glasses and hand them to the guests. During dessert, glass bowls decorated the center of the table, richly stocked with fruit, sweets or baked goods. 

Champagne glass, Rastatt Favorite Palace. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Werner Hiller-König

Champagne glass from the collection with craquelure and build-up.

A challenge for restorers

Some of the glassware at Favorite Palace broke over the centuries and waited a long time to be restored. In 2015, 21 historic glass items were restored, thanks to a donation from the Wüstenrot Stiftung. In a cooperative research project with the Fraunhofer Institute, State Palaces and Gardens of Baden-Württemberg is exploring the causes behind the glass corrosion and searching for optimization options for how to display and preserve the valuable works of art safely and lastingly. 

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