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Beaker

  • Place of origin:

    Venice (made)

  • Date:

    1519-1558 (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Colourless glass, enamelled and gilt

  • Museum number:

    191-1879

  • Gallery location:

    Medieval & Renaissance, Room 63, The Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 9

Venetian enamelled and gilt glass was a luxury product exported all over Italy and beyond. The glassmakers of Venice had an excellent and wide spread reputation for high-quality colourless glass and fine workmanship in gilding and enamelling.
Account books and inventories of the time sometimes mention small numbers of 'worked' or 'gilded' glass and often this is stated to have come from Venice or Murano, the Venetian island on which the glass industry was concentrated. The value of such items was often many times as great as that of ordinary beakers and bottles which were used in much greater quantities for daily use at the dinner table.
The more valuable enamelled and gilt glasses were almost certainly used for special occasions only. Their shapes were also more varied, including footed beakers and bowls, cooling vessels, dishes, ewers, basins and salts. The fact that such items were specially mentioned in inventories showed how they were treasured by their owners from the start.
Enamelled glass went out of fashion in Italy, from about 1520 onwards, but it remained popular in Central Europe. Venetian glassmakers continued supplying German patrons with finely enamelled wares, often decorated witht the arms of the patron.

Physical description

Conical glass beaker on low foot, gilt & enamelled with the arms of Emperor Charles V

Place of Origin

Venice (made)

Date

1519-1558 (made)

Materials and Techniques

Colourless glass, enamelled and gilt

Dimensions

Height: 16.4 cm, Diameter: 11.2 cm greatest width, Weight: 0.2 kg

Object history note

The arms are those of Charles V (1500-1558) as Holy Roman Emperor (1519-1558)

Before coming to the Museum this beaker was in the private collection of John Charles Robinson (1824-1913), the first curator of art at the V&A, who shifted the focus of the Museum collections away from its original enthusiasm for good examples of modern design, towards historic works of art which should inspire modern manufactures. In his 15 years at the Museum, Robinson created the first public collection of medieval and Renaissance decorative art in Britain.

Historical context note

Venetian enamelled and gilt glass was a luxury product exported all over Italy and beyond. The glassmakers of Venice had an excellent and wide spread reputation for high-quality colourless glass and fine workmanship in gilding and enamelling.
Account books and inventories of the time sometimes mention small numbers of 'worked' or 'gilded' glass and often this is stated to have come from Venice or Murano, the Venetian island on which the glass industry was concentrated. The value of such items was often many times as great as that of ordinary beakers and bottles which were used in much greater quantities for daily use at the dinner table.
The more valuable enamelled and gilt glasses were almost certainly used for special occasions only. Their shapes were also more varied, including footed beakers and bowls, cooling vessels, dishes, ewers, basins and salts. The fact that such items were specially mentioned in inventories showed how they were treasured by their owners from the start.
Enamelled glass went out of fashion in Italy, from about 1520 onwards, but it remained popular in Central Europe. Venetian glassmakers continued supplying German patrons with finely enamelled wares, often decorated witht the arms of the patron.

Descriptive line

Beaker, enamelled glass, Italy (Venice), 1500-1600

Labels and date

enamelled with the arms of Charles V (1500-1558) as Holy Roman Emperor (1519-1558) []

Materials

Glass

Techniques

Enamelling

Categories

Glass; Drinking

Collection

Ceramics Collection

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