Blansko's cast iron
This exhibition presents an overview of products that Blansko's ironworks started to produce around the 1850s. The display shows artistic cast iron as well as commercial products. CLOSED UNTIL 25.3.2019
Cast iron from Blansko is a phenomenon that had no competition in the whole Hapsburg lands. The quick development of the iron industry in Blansko is connected to the family of Salm-Reiffenscheit, which bought the castle and the local foundries in 1766. A milestone in the history of the ironworks was the year 1807, when Hugo Franz Salm-Reifferscheidt became the head of the company’s management. Hugo Franz was an art connoisseur and also a patron. In the local factories, he introduced many innovations which modernised the old ironwork practices and upgraded them for mass production. Thanks to him, Blansko's iron factories became one of the top Austrian ironworks. At this time, the ironworks were producing all kinds of utility merchandise, soon though, they started to cast artistic products. Hugo Franz wanted to cast large antique-style sculptures and so he contacted leading European sculptors, from whom he acquired many models of ancient heroes and gods. In 1921 a chemist and metallurgist from Stuttgart, Carl (Karl) Ludwig von Reichenbach came to Blansko's ironworks. The era of casting large figure sculptures started with his arrival. Reichenbach’s knowledge enabled him to cast large sculptures in one piece. Blansko's ironworks then became the biggest producer of cast iron in Moravia and Silesia and exported these to all around the world. There was not one coherent artistic style throughout the 19th century and therefore we can find many historical artistic styles even in the casting industry, such as Empire, classicism, neo-gothic, baroque and so forth. Blansko's cast iron continued to be popular throughout the second half of the 19th century. Products were sold and used abroad and their quality was compared to that of English cast iron. At the end of the 19th century though, Salm's ironworks slowly started to decline and in 1896 the factory was sold to Breitfield-Daněk a.s.. Artistic casting continued and was influenced by the new style of Art Noveau. The First World War was a big blow to the ironworks as the production had to be given to its demands. After the company was taken over by Českomoravská Kolben-Daněk, the foundries focused their production on more commercial and construction cast iron. After liberation in 1945, the whole enterprise was nationalized.