Swedish artist Emil Weidlich, 1895-1986, engraved this special vase with a dramatic figure of a nude man holding a lyre, presumably Orpheus, sitting upon a stylized rock, surrounded by water. It is a typical Weidlich motif, as he was highly influenced by the Art Deco movement, and his mentor, Simon Gate, taught him the value and the timelessness of a nude. Careful treatment of the musculature, all created by pressing the glass against spinning copper wheels, is another Weidlich hallmark.
Weidlich specialized in engraving; he did not make vases. This beautiful vase was made from an impressive mass of ice-blue, sparkling clear, Swedish crystal, at the Strömbergshyttan glassworks. The base is signed both Strömbergshyttan and Weidlich Värends Konstglas, and it is dedicated for a 40th birthday. It is a medium-sized piece, 7.75" x 3.5" x 5.75, and it weighs almost 5 pounds. It is in truly remarkable condition for its age.
Weidlich was educated as a glass "carver" at the Steinschönau Glass School (Kamenický Šenov), founded in the 16th century in the current Czech Republic. He was recruited by the pioneering Swedish designer, Simon Gate, in 1922, to work at the Orrefors glass mill. There he worked closely with Gate for almost a decade. In 1931 he joined Elme Glasbruk as a leader of an engraving workshop and remained there until 1942. He executed his own engravings on his own models, but also engravings of former designers, such as Edvin Ollers. In 1942, he started his own company, Värends Konstglas, at which he worked until the age of 85. The business was located in Älmhult, Sweden. (Home to the first IKEA!)
The story of Strömbergshyttan begins in 1876, when a glassworks called Lindfors ("winding falls") opened about 50 km west of Orrefors. In 1933, Edward Strömberg, who was a former head at Orrefors, and his wife Gerda, who was a designer at Eda, leased the company and changed the name to Strömbergshyttan ("Strömberg's hut"). Edward and his son Eric devised a way to produce a glass that had a bluish-silver hue, which became characteristic for Strömbergshyttan. Eric Strömberg and his wife, Asta, bought the company in 1945, and they invested heavily to modernize it. The Strömberg family further upgraded the mill in 1960. For most of the 40+ years that the family controlled the glass mill, Gerda and Asta Strömberg designed the glass. A fire in 1973 left the glassworks in financial difficulties, and it was sold to Orrefors in 1976. Orrefors closed the Strömbergshyttan glassworks just three years later. (Adapted from Nils Bergqvist)
Legend tells the tale of Orpheus, the son of Apollo, whose “rich clear words and the silvery notes from his harp were so enchanting that they … had a magical effect on everything around him. His songs could charm even rocks and rivers as well as humans and animals."
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