Vase, c. 1898

Candia Papillon décor

Blown glass, brass Glasfabrik Johann Loetz Witwe, Klostermühle, Bohemia (now Czech Republic), 1836–1947 Gift of M. Elizabeth Brothers in memory of Hugh and Jeannette McKean 4 1/2 x 4/12 in. (2017-119)

The Austrian firm Glasfabrik Johann Loetz Witwe was inspired by natural phenomena in the creation of this dazzling Art Nouveau vase. Loetz called the luminous “oil spot” finish on the vase Papillion, which is a French term for butterfly. The surface visually resembles spotted, iridescent butterfly wings. Loetz, the foremost producer of luxury glassware in Bohemia, was one of the first Bohemian glass firms to use an iridescent finish on colored glass. It, and the many other companies that would follow, were capitalizing on the public fascination with ancient Roman glass that was being pulled from archaeological digs showing a lustrous corrosion. At the turn of the 20th century, the geographic region known as Bohemia (now part of the Czech Republic) had more than 100 glass factories. For many years, Loetz was owned by Johann Loetz’s widow, Susanne. In 1879, ownership transferred to her grandson Maximilian von Spaun, who with Eduard Prochaska modernized the factory and introduced new techniques, processes, and lines that gained Loetz international artistic recognition. The firm’s production—including organic forms and subjects derived from nature—epitomized the Art Nouveau style. This vase features a beautiful peacock, a motif closely associated with Art Nouveau. Peacock feathers too are naturally iridescent.