Komaromy glass figurine

above: Komaromy
glass figurine
of Olga Korbet

below: figurine
of a doe
by Komaromy

Below: Angela's book
with a chapter on
Komaromy Glass

Glass Encyclopedia

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Komaromy Glass from
The Glass Encyclopedia

A short explanation of Komaromy Glass:

Istvan Komaromy was born in Dusseldorf, Germany in 1910, to a Hungarian civil engineer working on the building of the Rhine bridges. The family returned to Budapest in Hungary shortly afterwards, where he grew up and subsequently studied science at university in Budapest in the late 1920s. At that time science students had to purchase glassware required for laboratory work and Istvan discovered he had a talent for glass blowing, making scientific glassware for his fellow students and thereby creating additional income. This led to a fascination for glass and he began making artistic art deco style glass items in his spare time.

Komaromy showed some of his glass pieces to his University professor, who was so impressed that he persuaded Istvan to give up his scientific studies and become a glass artist. He arranged sponsorship so that Komaromy could travel to major exhibitions around Europe, at which the young glass artist was successful in winning a number of gold and silver medals (probably as many as 16). At the World Fair in 1931 Mussolini, who had been minister of Arts, described Istvan Komaromy as "the Michelangelo of glass", quite a tribute coming from any Italian! All of Istvan Komaromy's glass pieces were made using a Bunsen burner including his blown glass pieces, from either solid or tubular coloured or opaque glass rods.

In the early 1930s Istvan taught his sister Manci to create sculptures in glass, and together they set up a glass studio in Budapest which is still run by relatives of the Komaromy family today. But Istvan was involved only briefly. In 1935 he visited Britain as a celebrity glass artist, giving demonstrations throughout the country including venues specializing in high quality glassware, such as Harrods in London. He was featured on British Pathe News that year, making a beautiful glass figurine - a 'dancer' - and also a statue of the cameraman filming him. The short film can be seen today in the Pathe News archives on their website at http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=28588.

Komaromy liked England, and he fell in love with an English woman, Ruth Stratford, whom he later married. In 1937 he moved to London and they set up their home and glass studio in Leinster Gardens, near Marble Arch. In 1939 they bought a house in Shirley, Croydon and moved home and studio to this new location. Istvan was very successful, counting several Royal families amongst those who collected his work, including the British Monarchy. Queen Mary commissioned a set of glasses with a nude white figurine in the stem, which became known as the Mary Glasses. It is believed that these were bequeathed to Princess Margaret who had five replacement glasses ordered for her in 1971, via Thomas Goodes in Mayfair (suppliers to the royal family).

Istvan and Ruth Komaromy had three children but Ruth died in 1950 whilst they were all very young. Komaromy was left to bring up three very small children and continue his career at the same time. He loved making glass animals for his children, especially at Christmas and for their birthdays. For Queen Elizabeth's coronation in 1953 he made a leaping stag and two does on a wooden stand, known as 'The Leader', as a gift. It is thought that the Queen collected a number of Komaromy's pieces. Although famous for his "dancers" which were popular items and sold very well in specialist glass outlets, he also sculpted other classical figures, animals such as does, stags and horses, both singly and in pairs, candelabras, goblets and decanters, vases, abstract forms and complicated figure studies. He used over 200 kinds of glass, often manufactured by Pilkington's to his own recipes.

Komaromy's early pieces were not labelled, but silver labels with his signature were attached from the early 1960s. His early pieces were either standing on a glass ball or on a wooden stand. His later pieces were on marble stands or stood alone. He taught at the Wimbledon School of Art and also gave visiting lectures at Slade College in London. As he became older, his pieces tended to get larger, and he focused more and more on the kind of pieces that were most popular. It has been said that his career suffered because of the constraints of being a solo parent. He did marry again, in 1963, to his long-standing friend Margaret.

During his lifetime Komaromy frequently featured on television and radio and in art magazines; his work is held in the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum (for example there is a male figure and a group of Hungarian peasants sowing seeds in a field) and in the Pilkington's Museum of Glass, as well as in the Museum for Applied Arts in Budapest, Hungary. When he visited Hungary in the 1960s he was feted as a major celebrity. He died at the age of 64 in 1975, still making his glass statues. The Telegraph & Times carried obituaries and there was an article in 'Glass Age' August 1975 entitled "Istvan Komaromy, Pioneer of Glass Sculpture".

Until recently his work was not well known amongst glass collectors. Hopefully that will soon be rectified as more information is made available. Lately, his work has cropped up on the Antiques Roadshow and on the internet giving rise to a well-deserved renaissance and appreciation of his art. Examples of his work are in reasonable supply, mostly cared for in private collections, and with the passage of time, this will ensure Komaromy's recognition and secure his place in history.

If you are interested in Komaromy glass you are sure to enjoy the first part of a Trilogy on three London Lampworkers - Pirelli, Bimini, and Komaromy.. It is available as a paperback book or as a downloadable Kindle. Click here to take a look - London Lampworkers.

If you are looking for Komaromy glass, you can occasionally find items on offer on ebay. Click Komaromy Glass to take a look. Sometimes confused with Bimini figurines, so you could try searching for Bimini listings too.

Further Reading

INFORMATION about Komaromy Glass!
This is the first part of a Trilogy covering Komaromy, Bimini and Pirelli glass.
Click here to take a look - London Lampworkers: Pirelli, Bimini and Komaromy Glass

INFORMATION about Pirelli Glass!
Pirelli Glass were competitors of Komaromy, making lampwork figurines in the London area after the Second World War. This is the 'go to' reference book if you are interested in Pirelli Glass. It offers collectors a comprehensive history of Pirelli glass and its makers, from its inception in the mid 40s to 1980 when the company closed. The book is filled with colour photographs, original black and white catalogue photographs, stories and a miriad of information on Pirelli and Vasart glass. (review by Jackie S. from Canada). Click on this book cover for more information.

Pirelli Glass Book

And if you didn't read the first part of this Trilogy, you can take a look here:

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