Stemmed bowl, Venice, 1st third of the 16th century

Enameled and gilt blown glass
H: 0.175 cm
Purchased with the support of the Kovacek Gallery in Vienna
Inv. 998.115
© Les Arts Décoratifs

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This stemmed bowl made of colorless blown glass (the new cristallo developed in Murano in the early sixteenth century) features a polychrome enamel and gilt decoration: the coat of arms of a Medici Pope, though it is not clear whether it was Leo X (Pope from 1513 to 1521) or Clement VII (Pope from 1523 to 1534).

This decoration suggests that the bowl may have belonged to a group of over twenty pieces, mostly plates, stemmed flat dishes and pitchers, held by famous public and private collections (the Louvre, the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum, etc). This “service” was not intended to hold food, but probably to adorn dressers at prestigious banquets; it reflects the respect and recognition earned by the Venetian glassmakers of this period for their skill and creativity.

The museum’s new acquisition appeared on the Austrian market in 1990. Its form is the only one of its kind in this group. Its profile, still Gothic in style, is archaic for the early sixteenth century and was not represented in the museum’s fine collection of Venetian forms and techniques.

This collection, like the whole Medieval and Renaissance department, is largely the result of gifts and bequests, many of which were made before World War I. This group of over fifty, mostly unpublished objects, including the new acquisition, was the subject of a recent publication by Swiss historian Erwin Baumgartner, thanks to a reseach sponsorship fund awarded to the Glass Center at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs by the Venetian firm Salviati.

J.-L. O.

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