By Karol B. Wight
President and Executive Director
The Corning Museum of Glass
The Techniques of Renaissance Venetian Glassworking is groundbreaking for two reasons. First, in one resource, it brings together a lifetime of study and analysis of Venetian glassmaking techniques by the author, William Gudenrath, who has devoted his career to researching historical glassworking methods. When I arrived in Corning in August 2011, he and I met to discuss a future collection catalog on Venetian glass in The Corning Museum of Glass. Bill was to be a contributor to that publication, and he had undertaken extensive review and analysis of Corning’s Venetian glass in order to understand the means by which these splendid objects were made. His own work as a glass artist brings these techniques back to life in the Venetian-style vessels he creates. During our discussions, it became clear that Bill was nearly finished with his technical observations, and rather than waiting for the curatorial content to be completed, I thought it would be better to share this research sooner so that it would be available to a range of audiences—the collector, the curator, the glassmaker, and the interested non-specialist. The ideal way to share this information was not in print, but rather electronically so that the text could be combined with video and 360-degree photography to fully show these amazing works of glass artistry from multiple dimensions. And thus the idea for this electronic resource was born.
The second reason this work is groundbreaking is that it is the first of such electronic resources produced by The Corning Museum of Glass. From the outset, the goal was not to present a static body of knowledge, to prepare a traditional book and post it online as a PDF. Rather, it needed to link back to the extensive content on the Museum’s Web site, and also externally to other collections and resources related to the topic of Renaissance Venetian glassmaking. Because of the manner in which it is designed, this resource can be updated as new information is gained about the works included. The organization of this work is meant to suit the user: information can thus be gleaned through a number of lenses—shape, typology, manufacturing technique, and history, to name a few. (Please consult Introduction & How to Use this Online Resource in the table of contents to ensure that you get the most out of this resource.)
I am very proud that, with the publication of this work, The Corning Museum of Glass has enabled lovers of Renaissance Venetian glass, wherever they reside or whatever their level of interest, to appreciate this material more deeply through the technical observations the work contains. I thank the dedicated staff from a number of departments at the Museum—including Publications, Photography, The Studio, Audiovisual, and Digital Media—who contributed to this work. I am also grateful to The Samuel H. Kress Foundation for its support of this important project.