At the turn of the 20th century, before first aqualung and underwater photography Leopold Blaschka and his son, Rudolf, masterfully captured in glass the brilliance and beauty of living specimens by making remarkable scientific models.
They developed a successful business producing glass models of soft-bodied undersea creatures—marine invertebrates.Their work has been described as “an artistic marvel in the field of science and a scientific marvel in the field of art.” Carefully crafted in their studio in Dresden, Germany, these models were shipped to universities and museums worldwide as study models.
Coming from a long line of glassblowers and flameworkers, Leopold was traveling by ship when he was introduced to the magic of jellyfish and other aquatic life. Years later he drew on this experience to produce glass sea anemones for display at the Natural History Museum in Dresden, explains CMoG. Since underwater photography wasn’t exactly a thing at the time, Leopold’s detailed models became all the rage for universities and natural history museums, which wanted similar creations for study and display. A thriving business ensued, and in 1876 Rudolf joined his father in the work. They eventually had a catalog of 700 invertebrate models available upon request.
Cornell University acquired a collection of 570 items in 1885, and a selection of these can be seen at an exhibition at the Corning Museum of Glass.
All Images @ Corning Museum of Glass