And the Blaschkas’ models were exceptional, renowned for their absolute fidelity to specimens and their fine eye for detail; all the more impressive because the Blaschkas lived in landlocked #Dresden.
Although Leopold had managed to amass a respectable group of studies, he did not have immediate access to additional specimens, nor could he quickly resolve any questions he had about the physiology, structure, movement, coloration, or typical markings of the sea creatures he had drawn. Books and field reports were critical sources for him, as were letters and drawings from scholar- researchers. Yet looking at the thousands of delicate cilia of the comb jelly, or the layered piling of cerata of the sea slug, it’s incredible to think how perfect the Blaschkas’ models were when they hadn’t seen with their own eyes the vast majority of the objects they were recreating.
One of the people who heard of the Blaschkas’ work and was interested in making some purchases of his own was #Harvard University’s George Lincoln Goodale. Goodale, the first director of the university’s #Botanical #Museum, had seen some of the duo’s marine models at the university and was stunned by their quality. He was mapping out the exhibits for his museum and confronting a challenge he hadn’t been sure how he’d surmount. How could he present botanical specimens in a way that would be faithful to their in-the-field beauty and, by extension, would draw in the crowds that are necessary to sustain a museum’s operations?
#Boston’s cold northeastern winters made the problem more acute. Glass models, Goodale thought, might solve his problem. Goodale was so convinced he had hit upon a solution that he packed his bags and headed to Dresden, where he sought - and was granted - a one-on-one meeting with the Blaschkas. He made his case and set down his offer; he was prepared to commission the men to create a collection of glass flowers for Harvard.
But the Blaschkas weren’t interested. For one thing, they had a steady business and weren’t likely to be able to handle more work since they had no help. For another, Leopold had tried his hand at glass #flowers and wasn’t particularly pleased with the result. Still, Goodale was persistent. Easing off his full-on proposal, he suggested that the men might create just a few models. With the intense pressure off, the Blaschkas agreed and the beginning of a long and mutually fruitful relationship began.