Glass-Goblets-art - 10/16/11
"Venetian Betrothal Goblets" by Mistress katherine kerr.
This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.
These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.
While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.
Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous
stefan at florilegium.org
NOTE: See more of this author's work on her website at: http://webcentre.co.nz/kk
Venetian Betrothal Goblets
by Mistress katherine kerr
It is a world to see in these our days, wherein gold and silver most aboundeth, how that our gentility, as loathing those metals (because of the plenty), do now generally choose rather the Venice glasses both for our wine and beer, than any of those metals or stone wherein beforetime we have been accustomed to drink; but such is the nature of man generally that it most coveteth things difficult to be attained.
William Harrison, The Description of Britain (1587)
Background and Production
Throughout period Venice was the premiere producer of glassware, most noted for the beautifully made, often highly decorated beakers, glasses and goblets that were exported throughout Europe. “Venetian” was synonymous with quality and style, which led to many attempts at copying in late period by glass workers in Antwerp and London (Museum of London).
Venice gained glass-making experience from its contacts with the eastern Mediterranean and the Islamic world, which had seen glassworking and enameling grow and develop from the seventh century (Adams, pg 2 citing Carboni & Barovier). By the late 13th century, Venice’s specialist glass-blowing operations had shifted to the island of Murano, largely as a measure to prevent the danger of fire to La Serenissima itself. The glass industry gained a further boost in the 15th century when craftsmen arrived as refugees following the fall of Damascus in 1400 and of Constantinople in 1435 (Glass Cottage).
Venetian glass itself was noted for the early development of clear, colourless forms, known as “cristallo”, as distinct from the greenware and other tinted or bubbled glass produced earlier by less skilled craftsmen struggling with inclusions and contaminants in the processing. The Venetians also produced colored glass, such as deep greens, cobalt blues and opaque whites (lattimo), used in applications such as goblet stems to contrast with the cristallo or as full goblets with decorative enameling.
Applied decorations included enameling, gilding or engraving. The Aldrevandini beaker (in the British Museum), was a Venetian product of the late 13-14th century, and has a still-bright enameled decoration of shields, flower forms and script in yellow, red and white. The use of dots to highlight or decorate the design is seen in this early beaker and continues throughout period as a simple, yet effective decorative approach by glass enamelers everywhere. Black enamel was used to outline and add decorative detail (Corning).
Decorating a cristallo goblet with enamel was an elaborate process executed by specialists. Finely powdered glass, colored with metallic oxide and suspended in an oily medium, was applied to a vessel with a brush. As the glass was fired in the furnace, the medium burned away. Sometimes, several firings were required to fuse the various colors of an ornately enameled object.
According to British Museum notes, “specialists, some of them women, carried out the painted enamel decoration and applied gold leaf, which were fixed to the surface of the glass in a low-temperature kiln”. In my case, I used the readily available Vitrea 60 glas paints produced by Pebeo. I made a paper pattern shaped to fit inside the glass; difficulties with refraction made it more a general guide for decorative placement, rather than a straight transferable outline. A fine brush (O size) was used for painting, with some detailing using the pointed nozzle of the related outliner product to produce a raised effect, and a toothpick for dragging. The paint was thermo-hardened in an oven as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
The paint had a tendency to run – in this case to “slide” down as I was painting the goblets in an upright position. This was primarily a problem in the field area of the arms, where the paint needed to be laid thickest. I could possibly have avoided this by doing the two sides separately on their sides with individual firings in between each, but time constraints did not permit this.
Both the British and Victoria & Albert Museums have examples of Venetian betrothal goblets, dating from the early 1500s. The British Museum one is 22cm high, with a diameter of 10 cm. The emerald-green glass has two enamel portraits in profile of a man and a woman surrounded by putti and decorative foliage; the top is encircled with lines of gold and white dots. The V&A has a very similar green goblet, dating from 1475-1510, though the quality of the enameling is not as good as the British Museum example. Both glasses are bucket-shaped, and the British Museum one has a decorative knop on the stem.
The use of shields as a decorative device is found on glassware from the 1330s onwards. Some have been identified with specific families and are thought to represent celebrations of wedding and alliances; others appear to be just decorative motifs unattributable to any recorded arms. The V&A has an example of what looks to be a German shield on a clear trumpet-shaped glass, with a freeform tendril pattern and lines of dots around the rim.
One goblet (from the Getty Museum collection), is considered relatively unusual in not having any figures or shields on it, simply free-flowing foliate patterns in blue, red, green and white enamels picked out with gold leaf. The ubiquitous lines of dots circle the rim in red and blue. This and the V&A shield-enameled goblet are the two which provided me with the greatest inspiration for my enamel designs – I would have loved to try a set of portraits as with the green goblets mentioned above, but my skill and experience are not sufficient at this stage to attempt that. Another time perhaps….
My Betrothal Goblets
I was given a set of clear glass goblets for a 25th wedding present by Lady Anne de Lacey. Their shape is a reasonable form for the type of goblets available in the 16th century. According to Roman Glassmakers, a company which specializes in reproduction of period glassware, later cristallo goblets tended to “be trumpet- or bucket-shaped” with plain or knopped stems (pg 1). English pedestal goblets of the 16th century were characterized by more vertical sides than the earlier trumpet variations (Roman Glassmakers, pg1), so it seemed reasonable to use these goblets for this project even though their shape did not exactly match the museum examples.
Grateful thanks to Alazais who took this photo at Aneala Crown -- the only picture I have of the intact goblets.
I wanted to do a pair of betrothal goblets, one for my persona story representing the marriage of my Scottish father and Venetian mother, and one for personal SCA use representing my own marriage. This would give my lord and I a goblet each to use, and with suitable arms on them.
My “parents” goblet has my father’s arms (actually my SCA registered ones) and my mother’s (period) Mocenigo arms in a lozenge (per fess azure and argent, a rose countercharged); the latter was copied from a floor mosaic I had photographed in the Casa Mocenigo in Venice. The arms are surrounded by twining white roses, taken from the well-known depiction of the lovers in the 14th century Manesse Codex. While the Codex is relatively distant in time and locale from early 16th-century Venice, the white rose is a charge from the Mocenigo arms and also represents the Yorkist ties of my father, so I felt the motif an appropriate one to use in this context. The dots around the top are based on those seen around the base of the green V&A goblet of 1475-1500.
The SCA goblet has my lord’s registered arms and my own SCA arms in a lozenge, as appropriate for a woman. These are surrounded by an Elizabethan-inspired heart shape vine in gold, with leaves and flowers, including oak and thistle, to represent our persona locations. For many years, my lord has borne a favor from me that uses the same motif, based on a pattern in Elizabethan Needlework Accessories by Sheila Marshall. The Corning discussion of a Venetian goblet with “grotesque decoration” notes that “decorative motifs were interlaced with vines or ribbons, and included coats of arms”. The traditional rim dot design gave me an opportunity for an anachronism which tickled my fancy – for this goblet I used dots and dashes, representing our mottoes in Morse code (Never stop dreaming; Amor omnia).
The largest piece left after the big earthquake.
Aftermath: I made these for the glassware competition at Aneala November Crown AS45. My documentation did well; the execution was more mid-range -- not a bad achievement given my eyesight and first major use of the medium. Sadly, the 6.3 earthquake that shattered our city on February 22 2011 also shattered the goblets which I had so carefully put away after Canterbury Faire the fortnight before. It may take me a while to source another set of suitably shaped goblets, but I have the glass paint waiting for the time when I do.
Adams, Kathleen, The Colour and Techniques of Venetian Glass: Italian Renaissance Art http://people.stfx.ca/x2007/x2007tqh/Italian%20Ren%20Venice%20Paper.doc
British Museum: Aldrevandini Beaker Enamel on Glass Betrothal goblet http://www.britishmuseum.org/explore/highlights/article_index/e/examining_enamel_on_glass.aspx
Carboni, Stefano & Mentasti, Rosa Barovier; Enameled Glass Between The Eastern Mediterranean and Venice; Venice and the Islamic World, 828-1797; The Metropolitan Museum Of Art (2007)
Corning Museum of Glass: goblet with grotesque decoration 1500-1525 http://collection.cmog.org/detail.php?t=objects&type=browse&f=place_made&s=Venice&record=16#.TpuPFt1KAxo
Getty Museum: Venetian Goblet, foliage and tendrils Glass Cottage http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=1219
Harrison, William; The Description of England; Dover History of Glassmaking in London
Marshall, Sheila, Elizabethan Needlework Accessories; Georgeson Publishing (1998)
Museum of London:http://www.museumoflondon.org.uk/ceramics/pages/category.asp?cat_name=Venetian-style%20glass&cat_id=764">
Senhora Rafaella d'Allemtejo, Lady Temair of Hawthorne; Paint Your Own Feastware Using Pebeo Porcelaine; Arts Gathering, October 12, A.S. XXXVII (2002) http://www.fridayvalentine.com/rafaella/paintedglass.html
Roman Glass Makers, http://www.romanglassmakers.co.uk/pdffiles/pedestalgoblets.pdf
Sim, Alison; Food and Feast in Tudor England;
Sutton (1997) V&A: Enameled goblet, Venetian, 1475-1510http://collections.vam.ac.uk/item/O1830/goblet/
Copyright 2011 by Vicki Hyde. vicki at webcentre.co.nz. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.
If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.