In the nineteenth century, William Gibson began the earliest known glass business in America around 1834 in New York City. This venture did not last, but he tried again several decades later and would promote himself as the “father of glass painting” in the United States.
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In 1894, glass was first seen in Paris when S. (Siegfried) Bing first exhibited oriental arts and ceramics. Bing was a key figure in the history of decorative arts. His Salon de l’Art Nouveau in Paris gave name to the movement.
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Labouret was born in St. Quentin, France and developed the dalle de verre technique in the early 30s while working on glass in historic monuments. The artist sought a combination of modern strength and durability with a depth of color found in old glass. The thickness, broken surface and cut edge gives dalle de verre its characteristically rich translucence. The negative matrix area that frames each pane of glass is visually much heavier than the lead in ordinary windows. This characteristic, as with the earlier Islamic pierced windows, enriches the color by creating a great contrasting brilliance. This juxtaposition of brilliant color and dark surrounds can be painstakingly achieved in flat leaded glass by elaborately painting or by a combination of etching and painting of flashed glass.
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Variously called beton glass (beton glas), concrete glass or mosaic glass, the renewal started and by 1939 had crossed the Atlantic when a beton glass window was installed in the Chapel at the Shrine of St. Anne de Beaupre, Quebec, Canada. This was designed and fabricated by Auguste Labouret and is believed to be the first such panel in North America. In the same year, the French pavilion at the New York World’s Fair featured the same “Magi” panel that had been completed in 1936.
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“Thick colored glass was first used in a decorative way by Byzantine artists, instead of embedding the glass in stone, pierced the walls clear through and set it in as window lights. Arabic type examples can be found in Spain, apparently finding their way from North Africa with the Moslem Invasion. Although the actual glass is no longer in place, the feathery stonework grills that remain definitely indicate they must have been filled with colored glass.
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In 1875, an Italian-Swiss craftsman, Claudio Pellandi, made the first window glass in Mexico. In 1900, he established a studio for leaded glass, etching, beveling and silvering mirrors. In 1898, two North Americans, MacDaniel and Wineburgh advertised “Artistic Windows.” When MacDaniel died, Wineburgh merged his studio with Pellandi’s. Juan Navarrete was their designer. He taught Francisco Lugo, whom in turn taught Enrique Villasenor.