The Blair Museum’s permanent collection includes more than 2,380 lithophanes, original 19th century engravings, and a few original 19th century carved wax models and plaster molds. The majority of the collection is comprised of examples from the 19th century, when lithophanes were in their heyday. The finest 19th century lithophanes were created in Germany and France, while other countries that beginning in the 1820s produced the lithophanes in the Blair collection include Austria, Belgium, Bohemia/Czechoslovakia, Denmark, England, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Norway, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, the United States, and Wales. More than 750 lithophanes are currently on view.
20th century and contemporary lithophane makers are also included in the Blair permanent collection, including works by Hannah Blackwell, Alpha Gene Blue, Bryan Czibesz, David Failing, Walter Ford, and David Jefferson. Lithophanes produced by the Porcelain Garden, Bernardaud of Limoges, and Light Affections are also on view.
Lithophanes were incorporated into night lights, candle shields, hand screens, fire place screens, match boxes, commemorative pieces, tea and food warmers, lamp shades, fairy lamps, beer steins, tea cups, and were hung in windows.
The magic of lithophanes can best be seen in person, when the bumpy porcelain plaque is back lit and the glorious detailed image magically appears before the viewer. Move the cursor over the image to see the unlit and lit lithophane.