centuries the Irish have been
supreme artists in glass. It is one
of the great traditions in the realm
of art, a tradition founded on
patient and meticulous hand
craftsmanship. But the skill of
Irish hands is only part of the
story - there is also an uncanny
power in those hands to impart
something magical to glass. And in
all of Ireland, no hands have been
more patient, more meticulous, or
more blessed with the elusive powers
of art than the hands of Waterford
When the brothers George and William Penrose founded the Waterford Glass House in 1783, they made a bold promise - to make Waterford crystal in "as fine a quality as any in Europe in the most elegant style." It was no idle boast. They had in hand the old secrets of mingling minerals and glass to create Waterford crystal of beautiful and mysterious qualities. It sang sweetly at the tap of a finger. It felt soft and warm to the touch yet possessed strength and durability known only to Waterford crystal. And it radiated a distinctive, silvery white brilliance, which Waterford Crystal's artists enhanced with deeply - cut ornamentation that gave the finished pieces a vivacious, traditional Waterford crystal sparkle. Patience, skill, and artistry had wrought a triumph at Waterford Crystal.
A splendid array of drinkware, serving accessories, and decorative crystal flowed from the Glass House into the aristocratic home of Europe and America. King George III ordered a set of Waterford Crystal sent to his residence at a fashionable resort, where "it has been much admired" by court society. At two exhibitions, the Royal Dublin Society bestowed medals for superb design on Waterford Crystal's entries. Just as Waterford's art was reaching its full flower, the financial climate turned grim. In 1851 a suite of ornamental banqueting crystal was displayed at the London Exhibition to universal acclaim; and in the same year the owner, George Gatchell, was forced to close the Waterford factory, largely because of crushing taxes.
This great tradition lay dormant for a hundred years. But when Irish independence rekindled a passion for Irish arts in the 1940s and 1950s, a group of businessmen resolved to bring back to life the industry that had made the city of Waterford famous. They recruited a small band of hand - picked artists, and under the guidance of these masters, young apprentices learned the intricacies of the art of crystal. In a few short years Waterford Crystal reclaimed its pride of place. Once more, it is the customary gift for royalty and heads of state. The Irish government has presented exquisite Waterford Crystal pieces to each American president from Dwight D. Eisenhower to Ronald Reagan. Waterford Crystal trophies are awarded for distinguished achievement in science and to the champions of some of the world's most prestigious sporting events. Thus the glory of Waterford Crystal has reawakened - a splendid phoenix rising from the ashes. Once again, the name "Waterford" summons up all the elegance, the fine craftsmanship, and the magical allure of Irish art.
Click on image below to read about Waterford's brand new House of Waterford Crystal!
Click here to view the entire Waterford Crystal collection.
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