Hans Stoltenberg Lerche

At Fratelli Toso

Hans Stoltenberg Lerche (1867-1920) was a gifted painter, sculptor, ceramicist and jeweler of Norwegian origin who was born in Germany and spent most of his adult life in Rome and Paris. In 1911 he began to work with glass at Fratelli Toso. It seems as though Lerche was given carte blanche to experiment, and for the first six months of his tenure, he tried making glass objects on his own. By 1912 he was working in collaboration with Fratelli Toso’s master blowers, and the series of vessels that they created were unlike anything ever made on the island of Murano. 

This footed objet is among the most rare and accomplished of all Lerche’s work in glass.

Even today, Lerche’s otherworldly creations seem a unique combination of freeform experimental glassblowing informed by the traditional colors and transparency of Murano, the pre-surreal nightmare imagery of Symbolist painting, and the tangled and biomorphic crust-and-flow of the best French studio glass. Lerche’s work as a ceramist and his knowledge of glazes is also (somehow) present in his glass. Overall, to say that his work for Fratelli Toso is atypical or idiosyncratic doesn’t seem to capture the novelty, surprise and fascination that it still engenders today. 

The piece presented in this collection is unique, and represents the outer edge of Lerche’s work—rather than a vessel in which images of fantastic animals are embedded, the entire object seems to assume the form of an abstracted medusa (jellyfish). This footed objet is among the most rare and accomplished of all Lerche’s work in glass.