Lot 47. A glass model of a jellyfish, Leopold Blaschka, circa 1877; 7 x 4¾ x3½in. (18 x 11.5 x 9cm.). Estimate GBP 15,000 - GBP 25,000 (USD 18,930 - USD 31,550). © Christie's Images Ltd 2019.
The inner chamber painted to model internal structures, the tentacles textured and in swimming position of the Polyclonia frondosa , supported on stand with painted ex inventory number 1877-360.
Provenance: Acquired by the Science Museum, London in 1877.
Note: Leopold Blaschka (1822-95) was a Czech jeweller working in Dresden who turned his attention to his passion: natural history. His glass models of plants and sea creatures were highly prized and commissioned by several universities and natural history museums of the late 19th century, where indeed almost all extant examples of his (and his son's) work survive. We know of only one other glass jellyfish in private hands.
The need for glass didactic models of these jellyfish is due to their soft bodies being incredibly difficult to preserve. When suspended in jars of fluid, they quickly lose their colour. Coloured and translucent glass is of course the perfect material to use, but the difficulty of working in the medium is such that the quality of the Blaschka’s work has never been equalled.
Christie's. Peter Petrou: Tales of the Unexpected, London, 30 January 2019.