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Object Timeline

1932

  • Work on this object began.

2011

  • We acquired this object.

2012

2015

2019

  • You found it!

Rum Flagon, 1932

This is a Rum Flagon. It is dated 1932 and we acquired it in 2011. Its medium is yellow-tinted glass. It is a part of the Product Design and Decorative Arts department.

From 1929 to 1939, Ladislav Sutnar directed a furnishings firm, Krásna jizba (Czech for “beautiful interior”), the aim of which, according to a Panorama magazine advertisement of 1927, was to “sell applied art, decorative art, graphic art, and home accessories.” Founded in 1927, Krásna jizba was part of the Prague publishing firm and artists’ cooperative, Družstevní práce (Czech for “cooperative work”). In the 1930s, in addition to being a noted exhibition designer, Sutnar designed objects for household use, including silver flatware, candlesticks, and tea and coffee sets made of glass and porcelain.
Sutnar’s glass objects were manufactured at Kavalier Glassworks in Sázava. Influenced by Le Corbusier’s purism, Sutnar’s designed these household items to be functional for everyday use, rather than as lavish designs executed in costly, impractical materials. The rum flagon would have been an essential component of tea and coffee sets, as rum was often served with (or in) these beverages in Central Europe. The service is made of heat-resistant glass, combining practicality with aesthetics. The flagon is also distinctive for its yellow tint, as the majority of Sutnar’s tableware pieces are made of colorless glass. This subtle use of color is one that contemporary glass designers, including Lobmeyr and Riedel, have reintroduced.
Sutnar’s glass tableware pieces are quite rare, and the acquisition of this rum flagon is an opportunity for the museum to expand its holdings of his tableware. What adds to the rarity of this flagon is the fact that only one would be included in each tea or coffee set, as opposed to cups and saucers, which were included as multiples. The museum holds a glass tea service by Sutnar and this rum flagon would both enhance and complete the set. The acquisition of this rum flagon also presents the opportunity to show the influence of Josef Hoffmann’s designs for Lobmeyr on Sutnar’s glass forms, which is important both in the context of the museum’s collection and in tracing the trajectory and subsequent significance of the long-established and admired Bohemian-Czech glass production.
The museum holds Sutnar’s archives, which include a collection of tableware photographs taken by Czech photographer Josef Sudek, who was employed by Družstevní práce from the late 1920s through the mid-1930s. In his photographs, Sudek brings Sutnar’s designs to life through their association with related works or through special lighting techniques. These images show Sudek’s inventive approach to photographing functional objects and emphasize the practical approach of Sutnar’s designs in a graphically arresting layout. These photographic compositions (ca. 1930), show a large array of glass objects, including pieces from the tea set in the museum’s collection.

This object was donated by General Acquisitions Endowment. It is credited Museum purchase through gift of Estate of Ladislav Sutnar.

  • Ether Inhaler (USA), ca. 1846
  • glass, horn, metal, textile wrapping, wooden base (not original to the object).
  • Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of American History, Cat. M-09244.
  • 14.2012.43

Its dimensions are

H x diam.: 17.1 x 8.3 cm (6 3/4 x 3 1/4 in.)

Cite this object as

Rum Flagon, 1932; yellow-tinted glass; H x diam.: 17.1 x 8.3 cm (6 3/4 x 3 1/4 in.); Museum purchase through gift of Estate of Ladislav Sutnar; 2011-8-1-a,b

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<ref name=CH>{{cite web |url=https://www-6.collection.cooperhewitt.org/objects/18766765/ |title=Rum Flagon, 1932 |author=Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum |accessdate=25 June 2019 |publisher=Smithsonian Institution}}</ref>