High Spirits

Art Deco decanters from Bohemia

It may be a simple case of art imitates life, but these innovative ca. 1930 Art Deco decanters from Bohemia seem to embody the bold exuberance of the then newly independent Czechoslovakia, finally freed from the Austro-Hungarian monarchy in 1918. In the 18th century, Bohemia had made its reputation for fine glass by pioneering such influential techniques as the layering and cutting away of enamel, a process soon ardently copied by artists from Venice and elsewhere. The use of this technique in the red decanter ($3,150) highlights its Cubist-influenced design, using natural shapes--in this case leaves or flower petals--transformed into angular yet fluid abstraction. The glowing amber decanter ($2,000) is perfectly colored to complement scotch, while black enamel jags give a graphic punch ($3,750). After Bohemian glass designs won numerous awards at the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts, held in Paris in 1925, Europe clamored for more, and by 1936, Czechoslovakia was producing a third of the world's glass. Although the rise of Hitler soon caused the demise of the factories, examples such as these are still prized as a reminder of Bohemia at its best. James Robinson, Inc.; 480 Park Avenue; New York, NY 10022; 212-752-6166.