About this artwork
The colorful geometric clusters embedded in this paperweight reflect the nineteenth-century European fascination with optical effects. Sir David Brewster invented the kaleidoscope in 1815, and its colorful and changing patterns brought great visual entertainment. Paperweights such as this example reformed this childlike pastime for a sophisticated adult audience. Depicted in glass were tiny glittering flowers, small black and blue cameos of figures, and even miniature bottlecaps. These were delicately arranged within the orb for the observant eye to discover.
From the late 1840s to early 1860s, French manufacturers of fine glass and crystal—such as Baccarat (Alsace), Clichy (Paris), and Saint-Louis (Lorraine)—catered to the vast public enthusiasm for beautiful yet functional desk accessories. Paperweights, which were designed to secure loose papers against drafts, were among their most popular products.
- Clichy Glasshouse
- Diam. 9.5 cm (3 3/4 in.)
- Bequest of Arthur Rubloff