Michael Dilger

Interior of a Glass-Blowing Workshop in the Black Forest, um 1820

About the object

Because glass production required large amounts of wood, the early glassworks were established in the Black Forest. Since none of the earlier production sites have survived, this motif is of great cultural and historical significance. The act of blowing the molten glass into different shapes is clearly recognisable.
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The first workshops for commercial production in the Black Forest emerged quite early in the course of the Industrial Revolution. Glass production played a special role beginning already in the 18th century. The immense quantity of wood required to manufacture glass made the Black Forest an ideal location for the early glass workshops. To make glass, a mixture of ash and quartz sand was melted and then formed into vessels by blowing the glass by mouth. Glass workshops were generally established in remote forest areas where felled timber could not be removed by rafting. All the trees were felled around the workshop, and as soon as the supply was exhausted the workshop would be rebuilt elsewhere. This production method led to widespread deforestation in the Black Forest in the period before 1800. Since glass workshops were generally in remote locations, their products often had to be transported long distances. This task was performed by so-called glass carriers, who used large wooden frames on their backs to carry the fragile material from the workshops to the larger towns and cities for sale. The glass carriers were usually organized into associations. Since not a single early glass workshop has survived, this painting by Michael Dilger is of tremendous cultural-historical significance. In it we can clearly see the two glass ovens from which the molten material is drawn and blown into various forms. TILMANN VON STOCKHAUSEN (Transl. MELISSA THORSON)

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