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MIL OSI Translation. Region: Russian Federation –

Consider the stacks of Peter the Great, entomological glasses of the 18th century, a Venetian vessel in the form of a boat and other glass treasures of the Kuskovo estate museum.

Every year on November 19, Russia celebrates the Day of the Glass Industry Worker. For the professional holiday of glaziers, the birthday of the outstanding scientist Mikhail Lomonosov was chosen, thanks to whose works colored glass appeared in Russia.

In the funds of the museum-estate “Kuskovo” you can find the rarest glassware created by artists and unknown craftsmen. Read about how the glass business developed in a joint article by and the Mosgortur agency.

Royal glasses

The first glass factory in Russia was opened in 1635 in the village of Dukhanino, Dmitrovsky district. For this, several foreign specialists were invited from abroad. The second production was opened in the village of Izmailovo in the Tsar’s estate under Tsar Alexei Mikhailovich in the late 60s of the 17th century. The plant was built at public expense, it worked for the needs of the royal family.

The glass business acquired an industrial scale under Peter I. In 1705, the tsar opened an exemplary glass and mirror factory on Vorobyovy Hills, where the leading craftsmen were foreigners who passed on their experience to Russian craftsmen.

The funds of the Kuskovo Estate Museum contain the rarest items made by the masters of the Izmailovo Glass Factory at the beginning of the 18th century: a cup with the inscription “Vivat Tsar Petr Alekseevich” and an engraved foot with Petr Alex Magn Czar Mosc (“Peter Alekseevich the Great Tsar of Moscow”). The signature on the foot was made with errors – with missing letters and abbreviations. Most likely, it was made by a Russian engraver who does not speak Latin. Most likely, Peter I did not use such feet, but he could well give them to those close to him.

Glazier virtuoso

By the end of the 18th century, several of the largest state glass factories were formed in the Russian Empire. The first private glass factory was founded by a hereditary nobleman Aleksey Ivanovich Bakhmetyev on the territory of his own estate in the Penza province in 1764. The permission to build and operate a private enterprise was given personally by Catherine II.

In the late 18th – early 19th centuries, the serf Alexander Vershinin worked at the Bakhmetyevs’ plant. The master nugget invented a unique technique for making double-layer glasses. Between the walls of the items, he managed to create real works of art – mini-landscapes from paper, straw, moss and other improvised means. There are several such glasses in the funds of the museum-estate “Kuskovo”.

Vershininsky glasses are widely known. Of particular interest was the cunning technique invented by the master, the secret of which went with him to the grave. Nobody succeeded in repeating it perfectly.

The master made sets for the royal family, and for one of these works Alexander I honored him with an award: “Master Vershinin deigned to grant a gold watch, expressing his pleasure that in Russia the crystal finishing was brought to such perfection”.

“Flies” at the expense of the house

The original glasses were made at the Bakhmetyevs’ plant. They depict fluttering butterflies and flies in a very naturalistic way. In the 18th century, it was a very popular gift among the landowners.

According to one of the versions, the expression “walking under the fly” is associated with these cute glasses. According to another, its history is rooted in the era of the reign of Peter I. The king promoted the development of taverns, in which it was offered not only to drink, but also to have a snack, in contrast to taverns, where visitors could only do the first.

To stimulate demand, Peter I ordered the owners of taverns to pour the first glass of visitors free of charge. The owners, on the other hand, went for a trick – they brought in mini-feet with a capacity of about 10-15 milliliters in order to fulfill the royal decree and at the same time not spend much money. Tiny glasses were popularly called “flies”, and the expression “walking under the fly” appeared thanks to the cunning people who managed to bypass several taverns during the night and in each of them get their legal free “fly”.

Secrets of the island of Murano

Venetian glass dates back to the 8th century. Then the city consisted of wooden buildings, and the production where fire was used was dangerous. In the 13th century, glass workshops were moved to Murano, one of the largest islands in the Venetian lagoon. Murano glassmakers began to use new methods of creating painted glass, brought to Venice from Byzantium at the beginning of the 13th century.

The manufacturing recipe was kept in the strictest secrecy for a long time, the disclosure of which was punishable by death. Venetian glass was worth its weight in gold, its sales brought serious income to the treasury. The craftsmen, along with their families, were often isolated on the island. In order to keep glassmakers in Venice, the state gave them some privileges: for example, the daughters of the craftsmen had the right to marry a member of the nobility and receive all the titles they owe.

Despite the fact that the secret of the Murano masters has long been revealed, not everyone can repeat the technology. It is noteworthy that even with the development of technology, Venetian glass blowers continue to work by hand.

The museum-estate “Kuskovo” contains a vessel made of Venetian glass in the shape of a boat, dated back to the 19th century. There is a legend that in Venice, when launching new ships, such products were smashed against the side for luck.

Sculptor and glass

Vera Mukhina was not only an outstanding sculptor, but also a master of glass making. She stood at the origins of Soviet glass production, and many of the services that adorned the homes of Soviet citizens were made according to her sketches. Mukhina became interested in glass in 1914 after seeing the works of Murano masters in Italy. However, she began to work with new material for herself much later.

At the beginning of 1940, Vera Mukhina, the creator of the technology for the production of optical glass, Nikolai Kachalov, and the writer Alexei Tolstoy wrote a letter to the government with a request to open a workshop for the serial production of artistic glass products. An experimental laboratory was founded at the Leningrad mirror factory. The best glassmakers from all over the Soviet Union came there to advise their colleagues. In less than a year of the workshop’s existence, the craftsmen have created several dozen unique art samples.

After the war, the forces of Kachalov and Mukhina managed to reopen the laboratory. It was in this workshop that Vera Mukhina began working with glass under the guidance of Nikolai Kachalov. She started with small forms, but with the invention of her own method of glass molding – bending – the sculptor created a series of glass busts. One of them was the “Portrait of a Scientist” dedicated to Nikolai Katchalov. Now the bust is in the collection of modern glass in the museum-estate “Kuskovo”.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and or sentence structure not be perfect.

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