Shards Bring Luck: A Temporary Exhibition of Unique Bone Glass on Display at the Lobkowicz Palace

April 26 – August 31 2023

Bone glass came to the fore in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. This happened largely due to the growing popularity of Chinese porcelain imported to Europe, which was, however, expensive. Because bone glass strongly resembles porcelain in terms of its appearance and properties (i.e. opacity, translucency and luster) skilled merchants began to sell it as the so-called "porcelain for the poor". It was therefore a cheaper option for customers who did not have the means to buy a Chinese original, but at the same time wanted to embrace the trend of the time. In addition to serving as decoration, bone glass also became a springboard for European scholars attempting to uncover the secrets of Chinese porcelain. The plates, which are part of the Lobkowicz Collections, are most likely intended to imitate celadon porcelain, (i.e. ceramics with a greenish to bluish opaque glaze). 

Shards Bring Luck is not only about these valuable and important examples of craft. During the Nazi and Communist regimes, and the communist period, the entirety of the Lobkowicz Collections were confiscated, and neglected of the care they deserved. This unfortunate reality is also reflected in the poor condition of some collection items. Among the damaged items is a rare set of bone glass plates from the turn of the 16th and 17th centuries, the painted decorations of which were mostly rubbed off, and one of the plates was broken into three pieces. However, through studying the damage to the fragments, researchers were still able to learn a lot about the nature of the material itself, and now share these interesting discoveries with museum visitors. 

Shards Bring Luck is open from April 26 to August 31, 2023 and is part of the permanent tour of the Lobkowicz Palace Museum in Prague Castle. 

Curator: Dominika Fink