The image of King Louis XIV, the Sun King, will shine in the new Glass Pavilion of the Toledo Museum of Art.
A 17-by-14 1/2-inch cast glass medallion, circa 1675, was acquired Sunday, a gift of the Apollo Society donors.
Encased in what is thought to be its original gilded and carved wooden frame, the piece is thought to be in the best condition of any of the eight or nine such pieces in the world, said Jutta-Annette Page, the museum's curator of glass.
The medallions represent a breakthrough in glass technology invented by Bernard Perrot, born in 1619 into a family of Italian glass-makers. As a child, he and his father immigrated to France. Before Perrot, glass mirrors and windows were blown into large cylinders, cut open, and flattened, which resulted in thin, uneven pieces, said Dedo von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk, curator of European glass at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, N.Y.
A well-known glass-maker and researcher, Perrot figured out how to cast glass. Into hot glass, he pressed molds that depicted figures and scenes. For this medallion, a profile bust of the lavish king in his prime was cast in reverse, and then gilded and silvered from the back.
"It shows a huge technological step forward," said von Kerssenbrock-Krosigk. The Corning Museum owns two medallions, the Louvre Museum in Paris owns one, and others are believed to be in France.
Perrot's technology was adapted within a few years to make the large glass mirrors in the Versailles palace that reflect the exterior gardens.
The museum does not report what it pays for its purchases, but a King Louis XIV medallion of lesser quality sold in 2004 for about $60,000.
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