Orrefors 1940's Design Engraved Crystal Vase, Child Pearl Diving, by Nils Landberg

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This fantastic Swedish art glass was designed by Nils Landberg, one of the great 20th century Orrefors artists. The vase depicts a small nude child, diving down to a large, open oyster shell. This theme was first popularized by fellow Orrefors designer, Vicke Lindstrand, with his seminal 1932 work, the Pearl Fisher. The vase is large, 3.25" x 4.25" x 10.25" (80mm x 110mm x 270mm) and weighs 6.1 pounds (2.8 kg).

The codes etched on the bottom of an Orrefors piece tell us about when it was designed, when it was made, and by whom. In this case, the vase (3676) was designed by Landberg in 1960, but I know from an earlier catalog image that the engraved depiction of the diving child (2424) was first done by Landberg in 1941. (That was the year after Lindstrand left Orrefors.) This actual vase was made in 1962 (D1) and the engraver was likely Anders Svensson or Thure Schultzberg.

The Orrefors story began in 1726, when an ironworks and smith was built near “the beautiful river that flows into Lake Orranäs” in the Swedish countryside. It was given the name Orrefors, which means “the Orre waterfall.” ("Orre" is the Swedish name for the black grouse, which is the bird seen on their iconic labels.) The foundry was converted to a glassworks in 1898, as the demand for iron decreased. By the mid-1920s, Orrefors was celebrated for the quality and beauty of its glass.

Nils Landberg was born in 1907 and died in 1991. He studied at the Handicraft Society School in Gothenburg, and began his career at Orrefors Glassworks in 1925, initially as an engraver and from 1936 as a designer. He debuted his engraved glass at the Paris Exhibition in 1937, participated in the World Exhibition in New York in 1939, and won the gold medal at the 1957 Milan Triennale. Landberg is best known to the public for his thin wall elegant tableware and art glass. His most famous designs are "Tulip" and "Dusk." He worked at Orrefors until 1972.

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