Posted 3 years ago
It has been a while since I posted an article regarding my views of the plethora of Rückl attributions we have seen in this forum for several years now. My critique is not specifically related to, or directed at just current posts, but is also aimed at previous posts in this forum which have been done by several people seeming to employ like methods.
I will clarify again, that the purpose of this series of posts is to simply provide my own opinion regarding the validity of “evidence” posted in this forum. I leave it to forum members to form their own opinions. My motive behind this has always been to provide an opinion that differs from some presented here, and this has gone on for several years now. My views have never changed, regardless of which individual has “presented” their findings about Rückl production.
My concern has always been that people knowing little of glass and trying to learn, can be misdirected by information that is not really accurate or supportable, but repeated often enough on the internet that it takes on a believable life of it’s own. It is, and always has been my opinion, that much of the work done to attribute Rückl production has been done using what I like to call the “close counts” school of décor identification. This post is going to discuss some of the issues that I have seen with the approach, and it’s application in serious glass research….. That is of course, operating under the assumption that “research” presented here is meant to be serious.
One of my “bones of contention”, both here and on the internet in other locations has always been that many of the attributions have been loosely linked to line art, much of which has never been solidly linked to real life examples of the decors shown in the artwork. I have looked for years to locate examples of shapes and decors represented in that artwork, and I address that issue in another post on this subject where I try to establish a baseline of known and possible shapes. In light of no known production literature other than the line art of décors, the development of an accurate library of known shapes becomes, in my opinion, one of the most critical aspects of uncovering Rückl production.
So let’s get started.
There are currently only a handful of pieces of literature known that relate to Rückl production of art glass vases. Those are a poster of solid colored items found in a poster published in Das Bohmisch Glas by the Passau Glass Museum. In addition to those, there is a page of décor line art found in Truitt II, and then there are examples of similar line art that were not published, but made available to me by Deb Truitt. There are also several pages of lamps and light globes, but lamps can be very difficult as they were a mainstay of the Czech glass industry in the interwar period. For the purpose of this work, I have focused on vases, their shapes, and their decors.
In my article on establishing a shape library for Rückl in this forum, I used the shapes found in that artwork as one of the possibilities. I did note that although I, and others I know, have actually tried to find examples of those shapes in decors in order to verify the actual appearance of the décors in the line art, to the best of my knowledge, few if any of those shapes had ever been identified. I believe there is a possible shape match to a perfume in a Rückl décor in this forum. I also voiced a concern that the décors in the line art, in many cases had different names, but were not all that distinguishable from each other in the artwork, so there had to be a way to find actual verifiable examples of the decors as a foundation for building a library of supportable attributions.
Instead, what we saw in this forum and other discussion groups, was the creation of attributions without supportable ground work. As an example we had the declaration of certain spatter décors with upward pulls of solid colors being simply declared to be Rückl Shimmy and Shimmy Pfau examples based on their similarity to artwork. The problem with that is, and always has been, that most of the decors shown in the line art have never been seen in verified examples in real life….. hence, my classification of it’s use as the “close counts” technique. I have always, and continue to invite any and all people doing this “work” on Rückl to provide supportable links to show the décor attributions are valid, and after about 4 or 5 years of asking, nothing has ever been shown in any forum.
Let me use an example to show what I am talking about:
Image 1 above shows 5 shapes and décors. These drawings are from Rückl line art purported to provide a visual example of the named décors. The obvious problem is that it appears to be closer to showing 2 or 3 decors than 5. These are examples of which are from the “Pierrot” family of décors.
A close examination of the two left examples, top and bottom row shows us that the only real difference visually, at least in line art, is that the Orange Pierrot has some green chards in it, and the Coral Pierrot has some blue chards in it. In the artwork at least, the remaining colors really appear to be the same. The obvious problem with this is that Orange and Coral are different colors, and that difference can not be seen or determined from the line art. I am of the opinion that in order to even classify a real life piece of glass as being one of these décors, an actual example that could be verified would need to be found, in order to establish a baseline starting point…. And historically, spatter decors can be extremely difficult to attribute…. Impossible? No…. but quite difficult? Yes. Abd yet, this forum has seen examples of spatters declared to be Rückl, and then additional similar examples to be Variants of the earlier ones.
What this forum has seemingly witnessed is a “circular” argument. One that really has no established start or end, but relies on all other aspects of the same argument.
To demonstrate the difficulty of attributing decors based on spatters alone, without a clearly defined and well supported starting point, let’s look at Image 2 above. This image contains 5 spatters from 5 different pieces of glass. All 5 pieces are different shapes, and 3 of the examples are actually from examples that can be identified through methods other than looking at the decors. 2 of these examples are said to be Rückl production. The examples used for that purpose are two examples in my personal collection claimed in this forum to be a Rückl décor. Unfortunately, I feel there is no supporting evidence, other than the claim seemingly originating with the line art in image 1 and common shapes linked later. If that is not the case, then I would certainly welcome information explaining the origins of the attributions. Sorry, but I am simply not a believer….. At this point, current or past attribution claims based on Rückl line art are simply examples which fall far short of what I consider to be viable research.
Image 3 above moves on to some attributions and examples. In this image we have 5 line art drawings of various décors described with numeric assignments and and the décor name of Metallit. One can reasonably assume that the numeric assignment indicated the color used as the ground for the specific décor. In this image the first and 4th examples were attributed as Rückl decors of Metallit based on the line art drawings. The line art does not indicate what the spots in the décor are actually made of. The examples are labeled below as to known or unknown origins. The first example attributed to Rückl is a vase that other than being declared to be Metallit, has no solid links or supportable evidence to attribute it to Ruckl. The second example is unknown, but most likely Bohemian production. The third example is actually Welz production. The fourth example was the original piece declared in this forum to be Rückl Metallit, but is in my opinion, another example of Welz. It has the same exterior as several Welz examples I own, and the same interior color as one example I own in green mica. It also has a stamp on the underside which is not used for the purpose of ID, but is commonly found on Welz production. The fifth example is actually Welz in my collection, and the sixzth example is also Welz in my collection.
Do I believe that Rückl made a décor called Metallit. Of course I do. Do we know what the décor is? No we do not, as we have never seen a confirmed example. Simply saying something is Rückl Metallit, and proving it is Rückl Metallit, are two completely different things.
The bottom half of image 3 shows some examples of pieces claimed early on to be Rückl decors, and continue to be examples which are being used as the foundation for different attributions now. This is simply a small sampling.
The first example is a décor which was declared to be Orange Shimmy. The next three examples, although starkly different in appearance from each other are all examples of a common décor referred to as Orange Pierrot. None of these examples has been linked successfully to Rückl production, other than by declaration in this forum.
In the top of the last image above we start with the line art representation of Orange Pierrot. It is the same line art drawing as seen in the last 3 examples in the bottom of image 3. Next to it we have an example of a vase that was declared in this forum to be an example of Orange Pierrot by Rückl. We then have an example of that same shape in this forum (picture unavailable for my use) in a spatter décor that is the same as the décor on the two vases in the last image. This link to Rückl has then been used to develop a grouping of shapes and decors attributed to Rückl. Am I saying that the décor is not Rückl? No, What I am actually saying is that the basic foundation to build a connection to Rückl was flawed in the first place, and as a result any and all shapes used to develop the family of shapes in this décor is not supportable. I have owned the last pair of vases for many years now, and have been unsuccessful in attributing them, and it was not for a lack of trying…. Do I think they are Rückl? I do not know who they are….. At this point I would say that I would agree that the spatter is the same, and that they most likely share a common maker.
The bottom half of this image starts with a line art drawing of the Rückl décor “Orange Shimmy”. The example to the right of it, although in a different shape, is the exact same décor declared to be Rückl Orange Shimmy in this forum several years ago. The example to the right, although darker and not showing the decor as well, is the shape of the vase on which the declared décor was originally found. This example was provided to me by a good glass friend. It now appears that this form has been used to confirm other Rückl décors. The bottom row of images from my archives, are examples seemingly linked to Rückl through the shape. If one is to believe that the declared décor matches the original line art of that décor then all is well….. If on the other hand, one finds the original claim to be unsupportable, then all attributions of décors stemming from that shape, or supported by that shape, become completely null and void.
In many instances through the years, I have asked for members of this forum (myself included of course) to be shown some of the basic foundation work that led to so many Rückl attributions. My reason for doing this series of posts is that I simply thought since the work had never been presented, that it would be interesting to post about some of the many issues I have had all along, and it does not matter which forum member has posted it. I always welcome an open discussion, and would still love to see some of the basic foundation presented here. I will not be holding my breath though.
In looking to affirm attributions of any production to any company, the most basic foundation necessary is to find a shape and/or décor which can be confirmed as a primary starting point. If the foundation is flawed, then the “house” built on top of it is also flawed. No matter how long it takes to lay, the foundation is one of the most critical aspects of research.
I am presenting what I can, without infringing on the photo rights of people that would object to their images being used in this forum without their permission.
In light of the presentation of foundation work not being presented here, members of this forum are left to decide for themselves if some of the basics from the beginning of Rückl investigations which I am presenting here, are sound…. Or not…...