The celebrated Vienneese firm of glassmakers J. & L. Lobmeyr was founded in 1823. Throughout the nineteenth century, Lobmeyr earned acclaim at numerous world’s fairs, establishing itself as the foremost company producing Bohemian and historical revival-style glass. In the nineteenth century, Lobmeyr designs ranged from ornate, elaborate items to austere, elegant decorative and functional wares such as vases, drinking glasses, and decanters. Lobmeyr commissioned designs from leading artists in Vienna, including Joseph Hoffmann, who became the firm’s co-director in 1902, and Vally Wieselthier, a celebrated designer of Art Deco wares who had worked with the Wiener Werkstätte craft workshop since 1912.
The “Queen of Sheba” Vase was designed by Wieselthier in 1923 for Lobmeyr, which exhibited the vase at the 1925 Universal Exposition in Paris, the exposition that established Art Deco as a prevailing aesthetic. The wheel-engraved design on the vase depicts King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba enthroned under a canopy, receiving gifts, and listening to music.
A number of vases were produced from Wieselthier's original design; the Art Museum's piece was engraved in 1926. It is representative of the thick-walled, wheel-engraved vases exhibited by Lobmeyr in Paris in 1925.
The Queen of Sheba, revered as an exotic and mysterious woman of power, has inspired countless works of art spanning various time periods and diverse cultures.