Oct 13 2011: Intricate Blaschka Glass Models Of Single-Celled Radiolaria (from Life Magazine, 1940s)

It’s not clear whether the four images in the gallery below (from a page in a 1940s British encyclopaedia using photography credited to Life Magazine in the US at some unspecified earlier date) definitely show works by Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka themselves or some other, unidentified, follower: the Radiolaria models are, however, noted as being from the American Museum of Natural History in New York, and the Blaschkas had extensive links with American universities and museums, notably Harvard, who contracted them to model glass flowers from 1880 until Rudolf’s retirement in 1938 (his father, Leopold, had died in 1885). So it seems more than likely that the images do show Blaschka models, even though the picture captions don’t credit them. I first came across the Blaschkas’ extraordinary and seemingly impossible glass objects when they were exhibited at Nottingham Castle Museum in early 2003, and even now, knowing more about the duo, their methods and the traditions from which they emerged, something about the things they were able to do with glass still seems almost magical, as though these are not only the result of supreme craftsmanship and skill, but frozen hallucinations, apparitions from some other reality altogether: which – like much of the life found in the world’s oceans – I suppose is exactly what they are.


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