Stourbridge cameo glass of the 19th century was unique in the world of glass decoration. It was inspired by Roman cameo glass that was epitomised by the sixteenth century discovery of the Barberini vase. Better known today as the Portland Vase it was the subject of a challenge by Benjamin Richardson to the Stourbridge glass manufacturers to reproduce a replica of this vase in glass for a reward of £1000.
A collaboration between Phillip Pargeter and John Northwood resulted in the fulfillment of this challenge and the birth of Stourbridge cameo glass. Although this well documented landmark achievement heralded the start of cameo production its evolution into the magnificent art form it became is less well known in part because of the lack of any centralised archive material.
All identified available information has been put together into a chronological history of Stourbridge Cameo Glass. The book format I have adopted will, I hope, make for easy, enjoyable reading as well as providing access to available archive materials.
A contemporary account on the production of 19th C., cameo glass was written by James O’Fallon in his Art Journal article on glass carving.
The best way to understand what cameo glass is, is to watch some modern videos that explain its production and some of the techniques employed to carve the glass.